The Big Ten had two fantastic matchups set for the Big Ten Tournament semi-finals on Saturday. Michigan and Ohio State met in the early game and Illinois and Iowa met in the late game. Both were top 10 matchups.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes 68, No. 1 Michigan Wolverines 67
The big story heading into Saturday afternoon was the injury to Michigan star Isaiah Livers. The Michigan program announced the senior forward would be sidelined with a lower leg injury indefinitely. It was a crushing blow to the Wolverines and added plenty of intrigue to the game, as many were interested to see how Michigan would respond. Ohio State also entered the game with a limited roster after Kyle Young was deemed unavailable before tip.
While the first meeting between these two had plenty of fireworks, this one was a lot slower paced. Scoring was low and Michigan had a narrow one-point lead at half. But in the second half, Ohio State took over. Duane Washington had an impressive outing and finished the afternoon with 24 points. Michigan got an opportunity at a comeback in the closing seconds thanks to some colossal mistakes from Ohio State, but the Buckeyes held on.
Ohio State improved to 21-8 overall with the win and will now move on to the Big Ten Tournament championship game against Illinois on Sunday. Michigan fell to 20-4 overall and will now await its fate on Selection Sunday. Both teams are considered serious contenders for one seeds in the Big Dance.
-No. 2 Illinois Fighting Illini 82, No. 3 Iowa Hawkeyes 71
This game was more entertaining than the final score indicates as Illinois ran away a bit in the closing seconds. Illinois was certainly in control thanks to some great play from Kofi Cockburn and Ayo Dosunmu, but it was a fun back-and-forth game. Cockburn led the way with an impressive 26 points and eight rebounds.
Illinois improved to 22-6 overall with the win. The Illini have now won 13 of the team’s last 14 games. The current streak includes some of the following:
- 13 wins against top 100 opponents;
- 9 wins against top 50 opponents;
- 8 wins against top 40 opponents;
- 8 wins away from home;
- 6 wins against top 15 opponents;
- 6 true road wins; and
- 4 wins against top five opponents.
Obviously, those numbers speak for themselves. This has been an absolutely unbelievable run for the Illini and fans hope it will continue for at least a few more games. Illinois will now face Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament championship game on Sunday. Meanwhile, Iowa will await its NCAA Tournament fate. The Hawkeyes are poised for a two seed in the Big Dance. Illinois projects as a one.