On Friday, two lower seeded teams advanced to the semifinals. However, there weren’t really any upsets at Madison Square Garden. It was no shock to see the Michigan Wolverines defeat the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Although, the Huskers could have displayed a better performance on the court. The Penn State Nittany Lions also advanced as a lower seed. However, they defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes for the third time this season. Two of the wins came on their final shot of the game. That could be the difference between playing in the NCAA Tournament and hosting an NIT game.
The two favorites also won in dramatic fashion. The No.1 Michigan State Spartans had to use a defensive stop to eliminate the under .500 Wisconsin Badgers. That was the first game of the day. In the last game of the day, the No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers also knocked off a game Rutgers Scarlet Knights basketball squad with timely shooting. In the end, both teams still have goals of earning a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They are each one win away from a rematch. However, if the Big Ten Tournament has shown us anything, the semifinals will be as close as ever.
1. Michigan State Spartans (29-3, 17-2) vs.
5. Michigan Wolverines (26-7, 15-5) 2 p.m.
The Michigan State Spartans out lasted the Wisconsin Badgers, 63-60 in a thrilling quarterfinal game to open Friday afternoon. The Spartans used a splendid defensive play to limit every Badgers’ option on the final play. As a result, they had to throw up a desperation heave with the clock barreling towards zero. The end result, the Spartans survived and advanced to take on their instate rival Michigan Wolverines on Saturday afternoon.
The Wolverines didn’t need any desperate plays down the stretch. From the opening moments of their Big Ten quarterfinal matchup against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The Wolverines dominated in every facet to win, 77-58. For the Wolverines, they have a chance to enhance their seed line. They also have an opportunity to knock off the Spartans for the second time this season. During their first and only meeting, the Wolverines beat the Spartans, 82-72. However, the way the defenses have been playing lately, that score may be hard to duplice. The Wolverines are giving up 63.6 points per game. Meanwhile, the Spartans are right behind them at 64.6 points per game. In fact, they’ve held opponents to 61 points per game in the last six contests.
Since losing to Michigan, the Spartans have won 13 straight games. They get a chance to erase that defeat in the middle of January. Somehow, the Spartans are going to need an explosive offensive performance from their stars. They have five players scoring in double figures and it seems like Myles Bridges is out of the funk from last week’s scandal. Meanwhile, the Wolverines must avoid foul trouble in the paint. Moreover, the Wolverines must hit the 3-point shot with regularity.
Score Prediction- Michigan 70 – Michigan State 67
3. Purdue Boilermakers (27-5, 16-3) vs.
7. Penn State Nittany Lions (21-12, 11-9)
The nightcap of the Big Ten quarterfinals produced some of the best action of the day. The Penn State Nittany Lions defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes, 69-68 in the quarterfinals. They advanced to play the Purdue Boilermakers after their thrilling victory over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, 82-75. Neither team has much time to recuperate, but each team comes into the games with some advantages.
First, the Nittany Lions played earlier in the evening, so they will get more rest between games. However, the Boilermakers are coming off of their first game of the Big Ten Tournament. Therefore, they should have more legs if the second half turns into what 9 of the first 10 games have been. With both teams playing for something, this should be another barnburner. Despite the Nittany Lions beating the Buckeyes for the third time this year, they could really use another strong win over a Top 10 team. Meanwhile, the Boilermakers still have their sights on a No. 1 seed.
The Boilermakers won the first meeting between the two teams a couple of weeks ago. The three-point win could be a precursor of what’s to come on Saturday. Tony Carr led the Nittany Lions with 19 points. However, he only made 8-of-22 shots that day. Carsen Edwards led the Boilermakers with 27 points on 9-of-19 shooting. The Boilermakers only dished out 13 assists in the close win. They had 19 assists in Friday’s win over the Scarlet Knights. Clearly, the passing game will be a huge factor in how both teams play. The Nittany Lions will also have a lack of size due to Mike Watkins’ injury. Meaning, Isaac Haas may have a field day in the paint. Yet, he will have to find a suitable player to guard on the defensive side of the ball.
Score Prediction- Purdue 83 – Penn State 81