Big Ten Tournament: Semifinal Saturday Storylines

Posted by Brendan Brody on March 12th, 2016

A bit of normalcy returned to Indianapolis on Friday afternoon, as three of the four top seeds advanced in the Big Ten Tournament. Michigan was the only underdog to remain in the field, as Purdue, Michigan State, and Maryland all notched impressive wins as favorites. The two semifinal matchups today could go a number of different ways, so here’s a look at some of the biggest things to consider on Semifinal Saturday in the Big Ten.

Maryland and Melo Trimble Looked Impressive in Taking Down Nebraska Friday (USA Today Images)

Maryland and Melo Trimble Looked Impressive in Taking Down Nebraska Friday (USA Today Images)

  • Will the Real Maryland Please Stand Up: Anyone who watched the first half of Maryland’s victory over Nebraska last night saw why the Terrapins were ranked in the top 10 for most of the season. They made an ungodly 9-of-10 shots from behind the arc and scored a whopping 54 points before intermission. In the second half, we saw why they’ve also been sometimes underwhelming, as Nebraska was able to cut the lead down to six points near the end of the game. The Terps have lost seven games this season, many of which came by playing down to the competition once they became comfortable. Can Mark Turgeon‘s club put together a complete effort and beat the hottest team in the Big Ten today? Or will it only show flashes of brilliance and in the process end up as a #4 or #5 seed next week despite having arguably the most talented starting lineup in the country? Anything is on the table today.

  • Shots, Shots, Shots, Shots: Now that Lil’ Jon’s raspy voice is in your head, three-point shooting will go a long way toward determining the outcomes of today’s games. Purdue and Maryland made double-figure three-pointers in their games on Friday, while Michigan and Michigan State did not. It did not hurt the Wolverines or Spartans in their wins, but will they be able to produce from the outside in the semifinals? Duncan Robinson and Bryn Forbes will probably need to improve upon their combined 4-of-13 output from long range if their teams want to advance to the championship game on Sunday.
  • Two Down, One to Go: Michigan might be in the NCAA Tournament… or it might not be. Bracket experts seem to have a split opinion on the Wolverines’ current status. Michigan split with Purdue in the regular season, but Illinois and Nebraska showed yesterday why it is difficult playing three games in three days. Will Michigan have anything left in the tank? If they don’t and end up lose to Purdue, will the big win over Indiana yesterday be enough to get the Wolverines into the field of 68? There are no easy answers for John Beilein’s crew right now, so they should just focus on winning another game.
  • Jake Layman=Sam Dekker: The current Terrapin and the ex-Badger have awfully similar games. Dekker averaged 18.9 PPG and 6.3 RPG in tournament play last season, while Layman started his 2016 postseason off with 26 points and five rebounds. After a quiet regular season, is an improved Layman the missing ingredient for Maryland to make a run similar to that of the 2014-15 Wisconsin team? Only time will tell. Let’s tip off Semifinal Saturday.
Brendan Brody (307 Posts)

Brendan Brody is in his fourth season covering the Big Ten for RTC. Email him at, or follow him on twitter @berndon4.

Share this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *