Four Game Recaps: Big Ten Tournament First Round

Posted by Ryan Terpstra on March 9th, 2012

Here’s a breakdown on how things went down in the Big Ten tournament’s first day of action:

Matt Gatens led Iowa to a big win over Illinois (Andy Lyons, Getty Images)

Iowa 64 – Illinois 61

The skinny: It’s been a tough season for Illini fans, and now (some would say thankfully) it is over. Myers Leonard was a force down low for Illinois, scoring 18 points and grabbing six boards, but Brandon Paul struggled his way to four points on 2-11 shooting. Meanwhile, Matt Gatens continued his solid senior season with 20 points to lead the Hawkeyes, but it was his defense on Paul that really was the difference in this contest for Iowa. Head coach Fran McCaffery complained earlier this week about Gatens not being included on the all-Big Ten defensive team, and the senior looked every bit an elite-level stopper in this match-up. All-Big Ten freshman Aaron White had 13 points and 9 rebounds including a key offensive board with about 40 seconds left after a missed free throw by Roy Devyn Marble that helped seal the game for Iowa.

Up next: The #8-seed Hawkeyes will face #1-seed Michigan State at noon today. Iowa only played the Spartans once this season, falling 95-61 in a game at East Lansing on January 10.

Indiana 75 – Penn State 58

The skinny: This tournament game was a big one for Indiana, who hadn’t won a postseason game since 2007, and had dropped six straight contests in the Big Ten tournament. The Hoosiers weathered the Tim Frazier storm in the first half, as the Penn State point guard scored 19 points in the first 20 minutes of action. But from there the Indiana defense put the clamps on Fraizer, and he only scored 7 points the rest of the way. Indiana got another great game from freshman star Cody Zeller, who finished with a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds. Jordan Hulls finished with 20 points on 7-10 shooting from the field (4-6 from three). But the big story for Indiana was senior guard Verdell Jones III sustaining what is perceived to be a massive knee injury while leading a Hoosier fast break. The loss of Jones III will certainly hurt the Hoosiers’ chances moving forward, and head coach Tom Crean was in tears when discussing the injury with the media following the game.

Up next: The #5 seed Hoosiers will battle Wisconsin, and try to end a nine-game losing skid against #4 seed Badgers. If Indiana emerges victorious, the 26 wins would be the most since 1992-93. 5-seeds are 7-2 in their last nine match-ups against 4-seeds in the Big Ten tournament.

Minnesota 75 – Northwestern 68 OT

The skinny:  This was the game Northwestern HAD to win.  The school’s first ever NCAA Tournament appearance was on the line.  Ralph Sampson III was out for Minnesota with an injury, and it seemed like things were stacked in favor of the Wildcats…but no such luck.  Northwestern went ice-cold in the second half, making only one basket in the final 9:53, and then after hanging tough in overtime, got outscored 6-0 in the final minute of the extra session.  JerShon Cobb scored a career-high 24 points, and John Shurna had 21, but according to head coach Bill Carmody the ball just didn’t bouce Northwestern’s way. It was a terrible time for the Wildcat shooters to go cold, and many would think that they will have to wait at least another year before they can make the NCAA tournament.  Minnesota, meanwhile, got a career-high 25 points from freshman Andre Hollins, and Tubby Smith improved to 35-14 all-time in conference tourneys, 7-4 in his Big Ten career.

Up Next:  The #10 seed Gophers will face #2 seed Michigan.  The last time these two teams met, it was January 1, and the Wolverines defeated Minny 61-56 in Ann Arbor.  A win for Minnesota would give Tubby Smith his 100th victory since becoming head coach of the Gophers.

Purdue 79 – Nebraska 61

The skinny:  Robbie Hummel dropped 29 on the Cornhuskers the last time these two played, but the birthday boy (he turned 23 yesterday) was supported by his teammates as the Boilermakers picked up a great all-around victory.  Anthony Johnson scored a career-high 17 points, Terone Johnson had 16, Ryne Smith added 15, and Hummel and DJ Byrd each scored 10 points apiece.  Nebraska actually led early in the game before a 17-0 run by Purdue put things squarely in their control.  Bo Spencer had 22 points for the Huskers, but head coach Doc Sadler said the Boilermaker balance on offense kept Nebraska off-balance all game long.

Up Next:  #6 seed Purdue will take on #3 seed Ohio State.  This is a chance for the Boilermakers to improve their NCAA Tournament resume while Ohio State will be looking to win their third straight Big Ten tournament title.

Ryan Terpstra (28 Posts)

Ryan Terpstra is an on-air personality for ESPN 96.1 FM in Grand Rapids, MI. Follow him on Twitter @TerpHimself

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