Big Ten Tournament Takeaways: Friday Night

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on March 12th, 2016

After Purdue’s blowout victory over Illinois in Friday’s afternoon session, Michigan State and Maryland followed suit with a pair of drubbings of their own. The Spartans used a 14-2 run early in the second half to ease past Ohio State, 81-54, while the Terrapins shot the lights out against Nebraska on their way to an 11-point victory in the late game. Here are four takeaways from quarterfinal Friday in the Big Ten Tournament.

Maryland took care of business against Nebraska on Friday (Kiichiro Sato, Lincoln Journal Star)

Maryland took care of business against Nebraska on Friday. (Kiichiro Sato, Lincoln Journal Star)

Michigan State: The Spartans won by 27 points despite shooting poorly for a large stretch of the contest – which probably says something about just how good they are right now. Denzel Valentine was his usual versatile self, scoring 19 points to go along with nine rebounds and eight assists, but it was the play of Deyonta Davis (12 points, seven rebounds), Matt Costello (10 points) and Eron Harris (13 points) – along with stellar defense from start to finish – that made the difference. Watching Iowa and Indiana go down early in the tournament may have also had something to do with the Spartans’ dominant victory: “We saw that those two teams didn’t come out with as much fire as they had throughout the season… we had to be ready to play today,” Costello said afterwards. Next up for Michigan State is a rematch of last season’s Big Ten semifinal against Maryland.

Ohio State: Both Michigan and Ohio State entered Friday squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble, but only one lived to see another day. For the third time in a month, the Buckeyes were throttled by a better and more experienced Michigan State team, this time after surrendering 48 points in the second half and knocking down just one three-point basket of their own. Not even junior forward Marc Loving (nine points), who combined for 40 points and 20 free throw attempts in his first two games against the Spartans, was able to do much in the quarterfinals. After seven consecutive trips to the Big Dance, the Buckeyes are likely headed to the NIT for the first time since they won the event in 2008. It’s doubtful the NCAA Tournament drought will last long, though – the entire roster is set to return for Thad Matta in 2016-17.

Maryland: Maryland surrendered 1.21 points per possession on Friday and nearly allowed Nebraska to sneak back into the game late, but none of that is really worth mentioning when you examine the final box score – the Terrapins were simply too hot offensively for this to ever be much of a contest. Small forward Jake Layman scored 26 points on 6-of-9 shooting from behind the arc; freshman Diamond Stone dropped 23 points on 15 field goal attempts; and Melo Trimble both scored (16 points) and assisted (eight assists) at a stellar rate. In fact, Maryland’s 1.37 points per trip marked its most efficient offensive performance since hammering St. Francis (PA) by 41 points (1.48 PPP) back on December 4. Mark Turgeon’s club will need the high-level scoring to continue against Michigan State tomorrow afternoon.

Nebraska: Tim Miles got just about everything he could out of his Nebraska team this week, but at some point fatigue – and inferior talent – was bound take over. A night after shutting down Wisconsin, the Huskers were not able to replicate that same defensive intensity enough to stop (or even slow down) Maryland. Senior Shavon Shields’ excellent career in Lincoln now comes to a close, but at least he went out swinging, pouring in 20 points, 20 points, and 19 points, respectively, in Nebraska’s three games this week. As for Miles’ team moving forward, a solid core of Andrew White (16.3 PPG), Tai Webster (9.9 PPG) and Glynn Watson (8.5 PPG) returns next season.

Tommy Lemoine (250 Posts)

Share this story

Leave a Reply

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