With the Michigan Wolverines, Nebraska Cornhuskers and Michigan State Spartans taking their NCAA Tournament resumes on the road, all three were guaranteed to get the best shot from their opposition. As the season goes on and these teams continue to pile up wins, that becomes another obstacle to contend with on top of the already talented opposition.
Two of the three teams were able to come away with hard fought wins, while the Michigan Wolverines could not pass the road test presented by Chris Collins and his Northwestern Wildcats Tuesday night.
Having said that, let’s take a look at how all of the action unfolded:
Game of the Night:
-#4 Michigan State Spartans 96, Iowa Hawkeyes 93
This had the feeling of a potential trap game for a Michigan State team that was staring their stiffest conference test of the season on Saturday right in the face, with only this Iowa Hawkeyes team standing in between them and the showdown with the Boilermakers.
The Spartans managed to hold off the Hawkeyes for much of this game, but Iowa did take a lead in the second half that eventually reached as high as seven at 78-71 with just under nine minutes left. Michigan State did well to respond and bring the game back within striking distance in hopes of making their move with a few minutes remaining.
Even on a night that saw Nick Ward and Jaren Jackson Jr. limited with foul trouble throughout, Michigan State found a way to overcome the crowd and an Iowa team that played out of their minds for most of the evening.
The end result really hinged on the final minute and a half, as Iowa had the ball with a one point lead before a fantastic defensive possession for Michigan State ended with a Cassius Winston block on a three point attempt by Jordan Bohannon. Immediately following the block, Bohannon was called for a block on Miles Bridges that led to two free throws that gave the Spartans the lead for good.
It went down to the end however, as Miles Bridges missed two free throws with a three point lead with 3.6 seconds left led to a Nicholas Baer half-court heave that just missed sending it to overtime.
Miles Bridges played phenomenally for the Spartans, finishing with 25 points, four rebounds and four assists. Tyler Cook led the way for Iowa with 26 points, four assists and three rebounds.
Michigan State avoided the trap game and will host Purdue in a top five battle in East Lansing Saturday, while Iowa will look to build on this effort on the road against Ohio State on Saturday.
-#20 Michigan Wolverines 52, Northwestern Wildcats 61
It definitely hasn’t been an easy year for Chris Collins, Bryant McIntosh and the Northwestern Wildcats. However, they’ve now won four of their last five and are building some momentum as the season winds down heading into the Big Ten Tournament.
This wasn’t the prettiest game to watch and certainly didn’t have the offensive firepower of the other conference games of the evening, but the Wildcats will certainly take the win.
McIntosh played the way many expected him to play all year during the summer and fall, and he led Northwestern with 24 points and five assists, taking only 11 shots to get there. Scottie Lindsey also chipped in with 19 points, as the two combined to score 70% of the points for the Wildcats.
Michigan continued its cold shooting in this one, finishing 17-44 overall and 5-22 from beyond the arc. Moritz Wagner had a nice performance, finishing with 20 points and nine rebounds, but Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman was the only other Wolverine in double figures with 11. Isaiah Livers only played two minutes in the game, suffering an ankle injury. Whether or not that injury will have any lingering effects going forward will certainly be worth keeping an eye on.
Northwestern will look to build on this win and go above .500 in conference on the road against Maryland on Saturday, while Michigan hopes to get back on track offensively in Madison against Wisconsin on Sunday.
-Nebraska Cornhuskers 91, Minnesota Golden Gophers 85
The hot streak of the Nebraska Cornhuskers continued against Minnesota Tuesday night, as all five starters reached double-figures for Tim Miles’ squad. Isaiah Roby led the way with 21 points and eight rebounds, while James Palmer Jr. continued to play at an All Big-Ten level with 19 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.
While Palmer did contribute heavily on the glass and distributing, his biggest impact scoring came from the free throw line late. Palmer went 10-13 from the free throw line in helping put the game on ice for the Cornhuskers.
This one looked like it might be a blowout early, as Minnesota jumped out to a 7-0 start, but Nebraska responded with a 37-15 run of their own. The Golden Gophers refused to fold, however, led by Nate Mason with 34 points and Jordan Murphy, who posted 22 points and 13 rebounds.
Nebraska has now won six of their last seven, and have hopes that piling up enough wins inside the conference will push them into the field as they can finish 23-8 overall and 14-4 in the Big Ten should they win out. They’ll host Rutgers on Saturday afternoon, while Minnesota hopes to get just their second win in 11 games on the road against Indiana on Friday evening.