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2018 Big Ten Tournament Semifinals Command Center

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Illinois v Michigan State
This many days until we never have to watch our teams play here again
Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Game 11: Michigan State [1] vs Michigan [5]

Michigan State, 29-3 overall, 17-2 B1G, KenPom 6, RPI 14

Michigan, 26-7 overall 14-5 B1G, KenPom 16, RPI 25

2:00 EST, CBS Sports

AKalysis, MSU: For the second time in a week, MSU got more of a fight than it maybe should have expected from a more-assertive wisconsin team, but ultimately made the plays down the stretch to hang on for the win. It’s survive and advance season, but the opposing defenses don’t get easier from here on in.

AKalysis, Michigan: Michigan’s late-season roll continued as they handled Nebraska in a game that was never as close as the score. Michigan held the Huskers to a 1-for-20 stretch in the first half that seemed to take the air out of the Huskers’ lungs, even though the hot-and-cold Michigan offense took a while to get in full gear.

AKprediction: Tough call, but if we’re looking at the most recent action, Michigan has consistently performed at a pretty high level. MSU’s ceiling is undoubtedly higher, but it’s still too hit-or-miss as to whether that team shows up, or the one that forgets what a ball screen is and turns it over 20 times. I’ll take Michigan to win here, 70-62.

Game 12: Purdue [3] vs Penn State [7]

Purdue, 28-5 overall, 16-3 B1G, KenPom 5, RPI 12

Penn State, 23-12 overall, 11-9 B1G, KenPom 31, RPI 67

4:30 EST, CBS Sports

AKalysis, Purdue: You’d think after seeing Rutgers end two other teams’ seasons, Purdue would have been a little more ready for a theoretically exhausted opponent, but as in the regular season, Rutgers’ size gave the Boilers some trouble. Fortunately, it was nothing the firm of Edwards & Edwards couldn’t resolve.

AKalysis, Penn State: After once again bedeviling the otherwise-solid Buckeyes, Penn State has played itself into the bubble conversation. Lead guard play is so often essential this time of year, and Tony Carr is playing the best ball of his life at the perfect time.

AKprediction: I like Penn State to spring the upset this time around. They will struggle with Purdue’s front line, but so had everyone all season, and it feels like Purdue’s aura has been broken a bit. PSU 65, Purdue 60.

Aaron Yorke: Eventually, Penn State’s failure to give Tony Carr help on offense is going to get the team eliminated from a tournament. The good news is that we still don’t know which tournament they’re getting eliminated from. Against Ohio State, the Nittany Lions shot just 38 percent from the field, including a brutal 6-for-26 combined performance from Lamar Stevens and Josh Reaves. However, they prevailed thanks to another heroic, 25-point game from Carr and some timely shooting by Shep Garner.

It also helped that none of Ohio State’s role players stood out at all. Kam Williams had a strong burst where it looked like he would lift the Buckeyes to victory, but other than that, there wasn’t a lot of help for Keita Bates-Diop. Someone who is on the court way too much is Andrew Dakich, who had more fouls than points and assists combined yet somehow drew an Aaron Craft comparison from the BTN broadcasting crew. Guys, not all baby-faced Buckeye point guards are created equal.

Anyway, now it’s onward to Purdue, a team that almost lost to Rutgers last night despite an incredible shooting clinic put on by Vincent Edwards and Carsen Edwards. It will be up to Josh Reaves to neutralize one of those threats while everyone else tries to keep the ball away from Isaac Haas, who was a big difference-maker down the stretch in the exciting quarterfinal. Penn State has multiple big men to absorb fouls even with the absence of Mike Watkins, but defending Haas is all about limiting his touches and not allowing him to catch the ball in the low post on every possession.

The Boilermakers really slay with their shooting, though, and that’s what will make this game Penn State’s most challenging of the tournament. Northwestern and Ohio State failed to convert on many of their three-point opportunities, but Purdue is a whole different animal with the talent it has the perimeter. I’ll take Purdue to win, 84-77.