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2011 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament

 
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2011 Big Ten Tournament First Round Recap

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Early Game: (8) Northwestern 75, (9) Minnesota 65

Minnesota’s crash-and-burn is now complete. The Golden Gophers were 16-4 on January 26, and now they’ve finished their Big Ten season with a 17-14 overall mark, losing their 13th Big Ten game in 19 outings this season. The Northwestern Wildcats advanced to the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals by driving the stake in the heart of a team that had its guts ripped out over the course of the regular season.

Minnesota looked like a Sweet 16 team at the end of November, having dusted off North Carolina and West Virginia to win an early-season tournament in Puerto Rico, but once guard Al Nolen got knocked out for the season with an injury and teammate Devoe Joseph bolted for the University of Oregon, Minnesota was left without a true ballhandling point guard. A team with little agility and quickness near the rim was left in no-man’s land, and the team collapsed over the final three weeks of the season. Coach Tubby Smith has to be wondering how Murphy’s Law overshadowed his team’s season. This loss to coach Bill Carmody’s Northwestern crew was just the exclamation point on a miserable end to a long winter in the Great White North.

Northwestern was powered by Michael “Juice” Thompson’s spectacular 35-point performance. The senior hit 5 of 12 threes and 11 of 22 field-goal attempts. Northwestern barely lost to Ohio State at home during the regular season. The Wildcats will get one more shot at the Buckeyes in Friday’s first quarterfinal clash.

Next Game: Big Ten Quarterfinal No. 1

(8) Northwestern vs. (1) Ohio State – 12:05 p.m. ET, ESPN 

 

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Late Game: (6) Penn State 61, (11) Indiana 55

The Penn State Nittany Lions still need to win two more games at the Big Ten Tournament if they want to gain a legitimate chance of snaring an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament. They didn’t look impressive in fending off the last-place team in their league, but they at least survived and advanced. As long as the Blue and White can continue to turn that trick for another 48 hours, they’ll have something to shout about in Happy Valley.

Penn State received 15 points from forward Jeff Brooks on 6-of-12 shooting to ease past the Indiana Hoosiers in the last of three first-round games on Thursday. Penn State allowed Indiana to hit 49 percent of its field goal attempts, and the Nittany Lions forced only nine Hoosier turnovers. How did PSU and coach Ed DeChellis walk out of Conseco Fieldhouse with a win? They shot almost as well as Indiana did, hitting 46 percent of their attempts from the floor, but they also rebounded with far greater consistency. PSU clearly outclassed Indiana on the backboard, 28 to 19, including an instructive 11-4 edge on the offensive glass. Penn State’s second-chance points and general strength near the rim were manifested in a plus-nine margin (20 to 11) in terms of free-throw attempts. Penn State, in fact, did not commit a single foul in the second half until the 2:36 mark. Say all you want about the officials, but even if PSU had committed two or three fouls in that period of time, the Lions’ discipline was still admirable.

 

Next Game: Big Ten Quarterfinal No. 4

(6) Penn State vs. (3) Wisconsin – Approx. 30 minutes after Game 3 between Michigan State and Purdue - Television: Big Ten Network

 

Friday’s Other Quarterfinal: Big Ten Quarterfinal No. 2

(5) Illinois vs. (4) Michigan – 30 minutes after Northwestern/Ohio State

 

 

By Matt Zemek
BigTen-fans.com Correspondent

 

 

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