The 2022 Big Ten Tournament continued on Friday with four intriguing matchups, highlighted by a variety of projected NCAA Tournament teams in action.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-Indiana Hoosiers 65, No. 16 Illinois Fighting Illini 63
For the second day in a row, Indiana delivered a thoroughly shocking performance. On Thursday, it was a surprising comeback win over Michigan. The Hoosiers trailed by as many as 17 points in that matchup and somehow found a way to victory. This time around, Indiana delivered a win over the Big Ten’s highest seeded team in Illinois. The game was competitive from tip with Indiana barely holding on at the buzzer.
For Indiana, it’s hard to understate the significance of this one. The win removes any doubt about the team’s NCAA hopes and might even push the Hoosiers out of the First Four and into a 10 or 11 seed in the Round of 64. It also adds even more confidence to a group that’s growing by the day and sets the team up with another marquee opportunity on Saturday against Iowa in the Big Ten Tournament semi-finals. We’ll have to see if the Hoosiers can capitalize yet again.
On the other side, Illinois fell to 22-9 overall with the loss. The team is a clear pick to make the NCAA Tournament on Sunday. The question is just about where Illinois will land. Joe Lunardi presently projects Illinois as a four seed in his latest bracket. We’ll have to see if that holds up.
-No. 24 Iowa Hawkeyes 84, Rutgers Scarlet Knights 74
After Iowa’s performance on Thursday against Northwestern, nobody was quite sure what would happen in this one. Rutgers desperately needed the win to help its NCAA hopes, but Iowa was playing at an absurdly high level. All told, the game would prove highly competitive with Iowa doing just enough to grab an 84-74 win. Keegan Murray led the way with 26 points and eight rebounds. The win moves Iowa into the Big Ten Tournament semi-finals, where the team will face Indiana on Saturday.
For Rutgers, the loss leaves the team in an uncomfortable position heading into Selection Sunday. Despite earning a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament, the Scarlet Knights remain squarely on the NCAA bubble at 18-13 overall heading into Selection Sunday. The team has an incredible resume of wins over great teams, but an equally impressive list of poor performances, including losses to teams like Lafayette, UMass, and DePaul. It should be an interesting test for the Committee’s selection methods. My gut says Rutgers falls short and finds itself in the NIT. We’ll have to wait and see.
-Michigan State Spartans 69, No. 12 Wisconsin Badgers 63
This game looked relatively even heading into tip and played out that way. Michigan State jumped out to an early lead, Wisconsin responded, and the teams battled it out in the second half. The game eventually came down to some late free throws and a few missed looks from the Badgers to seal the win for the Spartans. Marcus Bingham led the way with 19 points and 11 rebounds. The win moves Michigan State into the Big Ten Tournament semi-finals, where the team will face Purdue on Saturday.
For Wisconsin, this marks the team’s second straight loss and will add another blow to the team’s NCAA resume. The Badgers remain in solid position heading into Selection Sunday, but the hope of a late push for an elite seed is now over. Fans will have to hope this isn’t a sign of things to come next week.
-No. 9 Purdue Boilermakers 69, Penn State Nittany Lions 61
This projected as the most lopsided game of the day, but ended up being pretty competitive. Penn State jumped out to an early lead and played well throughout the evening, putting some real pressure on the Boilermakers. However, Purdue’s offense and Jaden Ivey proved to be too much, pushing Purdue to a 69-61 win. Ivey led the way for the Boilermakers, finishing with 17 points and seven rebounds. The win moves Purdue into the Big Ten Tournament semi-finals, where the team will face Michigan State on Saturday.
For Penn State, this loss will end the team’s season. The Nittany Lions finished 14-17 overall and showed quite a bit of promise in Micah Shrewsberry’s first season at the helm. It’d be misleading to call an under .500 campaign a productive one, but most thought this team would be dreadfully noncompetitive and that didn’t happen. And in year one of a rebuild, that’s not exactly bad. It will now be up to Shrewsberry and his staff to get things moving on the recruiting trail and build on this base. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.