The 2022 NCAA Tournament continued on Friday with another full day of action. Five Big Ten teams joined the fray, including higher seeds Purdue and Wisconsin.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-No. 4 Illinois Fighting Illini 54, No. 13 Chattanooga Mocs 53
This felt like an upset coming into Friday and played out that way for large segments. Chattanooga came out of the gates firing and went up big on Illinois in the opening minutes. Illinois looked shell shocked by Chattanooga and its smaller lineup and you could see Illini fans and the team’s bench starting to feel the pressure.
Fortunately for fans, Illinois collected itself by halftime and continued putting pressure on the Mocs from there. Kofi Cockburn was great all night, finishing with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Alfonso Plummer also had some huge shots in the second half, finishing with 15 points. Ultimately, the game came down to the final few possessions where Illinois converted and Chattanooga came up just short on multiple looks to end the game.
The win pushed Illinois to 23-9 overall and into a huge matchup against Houston on Sunday. The Cougars are the five seed and one of the more diversely evaluated teams heading into the postseason. While Houston has an elite statistical profile (third on KenPom), the Cougars haven’t really beaten anyone of note this season. In fact, the team’s best win came against Memphis in the AAC Tournament and the Tigers entered the Tourney as a nine seed. We’ll see if Houston can change that against Illinois.
-No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers 78, No. 14 Yale Bulldogs 56
Heading into the postseason, there were many who thought Purdue might be vulnerable to an upset. The Boilermakers had shown some vulnerability in recent weeks. However, that wouldn’t be the case as Purdue would cruise to victory over Yale. The game was never really competitive and the benches were unloaded in the final minutes. Jaden Ivey led the way with 22 points and four rebounds. Zach Edey also had 16 points and nine rebounds.
Purdue improved to 28-7 overall with the win and will now prepare for a Round of 32 matchup against Texas on Sunday. The Longhorns are 22-11 overall and beat a red hot Virginia Tech team on Friday. It figures to be quite a matchup.
-No. 3 Wisconsin Badgers 67, No. 14 Colgate Raiders 60
After Wisconsin’s horrid 0-2 performance over the last two weeks, nobody was quite sure what to expect out of the Badgers on Friday, especially with the health questions surrounding star guard Johnny Davis. Fortunately for fans, those fears proved to be exaggerated as Wisconsin scored a win on opening night over Colgate. And Davis led the way with 25 points and eight rebounds.
The win pushed Wisconsin to 25-7 overall and into a really winnable matchup against Iowa State on Sunday. The Cyclones upset LSU on Friday night, meaning Wisconsin will avoided the six seeded Tigers and instead will face a double-digit seeded Iowa State team that had entered the Tournament having lost three straight.
-No. 7 Ohio State Buckeyes 54, No. 10 Loyola (Chicago) Ramblers 41
This was the ugliest game of the day and might end up being the ugliest of the entire Tournament. Both teams put up absolutely putrid offensive numbers. Ohio State finished with 0.86 points per possession and Loyola (Chicago) finished even worse with 0.65 points per possession. Generally speaking, it’s rare to see a team win with either of those numbers, especially in something like the NCAA Tournament. Ohio State only made one three-pointer and somehow won the game. It was a truly remarkable game from start-to-finish.
Fortunately for Buckeye fans, Ohio State escaped with the win. It pushed the team to 20-11 overall and will put some of last year’s Oral Roberts nightmares to bed. Ohio State will now prepare for a really tough matchup against Villanova on Sunday. KenPom gives the Buckeyes a 34 percent chance to win.
-No. 7 Michigan State Spartans 74, No. 10 Davidson Wildcats 73
This game was thoroughly entertaining. Both teams exchanged the lead all night and got some great performances from some unlikely faces. For Michigan State, it was Joey Hauser who led the way with 27 points and eight rebounds. AJ Hoggard also chipped in 14 points and matched up against former Spartan Foster Loyer. The Spartans used a late push to get past the Wildcats.
The win pushed Michigan State to 23-12 overall and into the Round of 32. Tom Izzo and company will now face off against Duke on Sunday. The storylines practically write themselves for that one with Izzo facing off against Coach K one last time. Michigan State will be hoping to pull off another upset over the Blue Devils.