The 2022 Big Ten Tournament tipped off on Wednesday and fans got treated to some fantastic action. Ohio State and Wisconsin battled in the early game and Minnesota pulled off a shocker over Nebraska later on.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-No. 13 Ohio State Buckeyes 65, No. 12 Wisconsin Badgers 57
Entering Wednesday’s matchup, both these fan bases were disappointed. Ohio State entered the season with significant expectations, but fell flat in January. And while Wisconsin had been far more successful, the Badgers entered the Big Ten Tournament with work to do to secure an NCAA bid. Even one loss might cost the team a trip to the Big Dance. Not exactly what either fan base envisioned before the season.
Unfortunately for Badger fans, the pressure didn’t lead to results.
While Wisconsin would eventually pick up momentum during the game, the team came out completely flat and found itself trailing by 18 at half. It was an embarrassing effort for a group in a “do or die” situation. The offense was simply atrocious and Ohio State drilled a ton of looks, even against what was viewed as a solid Wisconsin defense.
Things closed up in the second half, but a good hunk of it had to do with some conservative play from the Buckeyes. Ohio State and Chris Holtmann clearly knew they had the game in control and played things to simply get across the finish line. That strategy eventually worked, as Ohio State grabbed a 65-57 win. Justice Sueing led the way with 16 points.
For Ohio State, the win sets up a meeting with Iowa on Thursday afternoon. The Buckeyes still have to win the Big Ten Tournament to have any shot at moving into next week. However, the team is clearly playing its best basketball in months and has suddenly won three of its last four. Knock off the Hawkeyes and things could quickly come together.
On the other side, there’s no way to describe this loss as anything but devastating for the Badgers. This was a game Wisconsin desperately needed to win and the team fell on its face. More likely than not, it will cost the group a trip to the NCAA Tournament and render this season a failure. Badger fans will have to await their fate on Sunday.
-No. 14 Minnesota Golden Gophers 78, No. 11 Nebraska Cornhuskers 75
Heading into this week, many had Nebraska circled as one of the bracket’s sleepers. The Huskers were playing well and projected to open with some manageable games. A potential at-large NIT bid hung in the balance.
Unfortunately for Husker fans, that wouldn’t pan out. Nebraska seemed off from tip and could never get its feet under it, as Minnesota pulled off the upset. The Gophers were led by 16 points from Ta’Lon Cooper and 18 points from Dawson Garcia. Both teams finished above a point per possession, which was another disappointment for Nebraska, which had prided itself on quality defense this season.
Minnesota’s win pushes the Gophers into Thursday’s slate. The team will get Maryland in the night game. It’s hard to feel great about Minnesota’s chances against a clearly superior Terp squad. Still, we’ve seen craziness in the Big Ten Tournament before, so anything’s possible. Like Ohio State above, Minnesota needs to win the conference tournament to have any shot at playing next week.
On the other side, this will be a tough one for Husker fans to stomach. It’s a game Nebraska should have won and likely cost the team a trip to the NIT. We’ll have to wait and see how things shake out, but that seems how things will shake out on Sunday. And for a program that hasn’t made the postseason since 2019, missing an NIT is a big blow. We’ll see what the program decides to do with Fred Hoiberg now. Expectations are that he will stay.