Good morning! Here’s your rundown from Indianapolis, about 20 minutes before we’ll drop a gamethread for the day’s action...and maybe mix in some NCAA Tournament projections, too, since Sparty took a nasty loss to Maryland yesterday.
Men’s, women’s, and some general chatter below!
Big Ten Tournament: Men’s Edition
Maryland Terrapins 68, Michigan State Spartans Presented By Rocket Mortgage 57
So, Sparty and MD played a few weeks ago. Sparty was on game 4 in a period of eight days. MD just their second. Or, MD was literally playing their first game of the week and Sparty was playing their third game of the week. Not exactly fair.
MD looked well rested and lively. Sharty looked like, well, their name, a poopy fart. They were understandably gassed and a well-rested MD team took full advantage and looked really good. MD followed that up with a couple of sharts of their own against NW and PSU. MD looked tired and looked like they had lost confidence. And nobody, not even this year’s UM team, beats Izzo twice in two weeks.
To say MD’s win over Sparty in the B1G tournament was unexpected is an understatement. Top it with the fact that Sparty started the game up 23-11. The only question was how badly was MD going to embarrass themselves. Then Sharty sharted, or MD played incredible defense [you decide] and Sparty didn’t score a basket for a full 12 minutes spanning the end of the first half and well into the second half. WTF!?! Sorry, that phrase is wholly overused, but so appropriate. On the other hand, Sparty simply cannot ever be overused. MD wins. Yay!
On to Michigan. Ugh. My total certainty in a MD loss to Sparty has been replaced with a total certainty of a loss against UM. MD really struggles with competent, physical bigs. Hunter is going to own MD.
Green Akers: Back to Bad MSU, apparently. How Izzo could look at the rotations that worked over the last month, versus the ones that didn’t, and conclude that Marcus Bingham and Gabe Brown should get 14 minutes apiece, I just don’t understand and have no reason to think I ever will. Meanwhile, Rocket Watts and Josh Langford, playing 31 minutes each, laid a fresh new all-brick wing at Lucas Oil by combining to shoot 2/13.
If the NCAAT tourney draw is decent, a well-rested MSU could win a game next weekend, but that’ll be it. Oh, and MSU is now 0-5 in games called by Bo Boroski this year, but here I’ve gone and committed OTE thoughtcrime by bringing up how consistently, unacceptably terrible the officiating is (which is a different thing, by the by, from BLAMING the refs, as MSU was plenty shitty enough today to lose all on their own, thanks very much).
Ohio State Buckeyes 79 Minnesota Golden Gophers 75
WSR: Komm susser tod. The 1st half was something, the 2nd half was probably very entertaining for non-Gopher fans watching. The team gave everything they had, but it just wasn’t enough.
If that was the end of the Pitino era, it’s a reasonably fair encapsulation: pretty good, just not good enough.
Candystripes: Let me start off by congratulating Rutgers, who actually came to play in this game and will get a decent NCAA seed no matter what happens the rest of this weekend. They earned the higher seed for this game, and they earned this win. Take nothing away from them, at least for this year. They did what good Big Ten basketball teams are supposed to do.
For Indiana, the choice is simple: Is a $10 million buyout too much to swallow, or is another season of basketball like the one that mercifully just ended too much to swallow? One way or the other, decisive action has to be taken. My opinion is that consistently beating Iowa isn’t enough to keep a coach employed anywhere other than Iowa State, and this sure isn’t Iowa State.
RU in VA: Ugh. Rutgers fans shouldn’t be upset that their team is now an easy pick for a day 3 game in the B1G tournament. I should be grateful, excited to watch, and count my blessings.
But damn. Before the game they were talking about depth perception in a stadium, how it can affect shooting and noise, etc. etc. What does this tall, strong, athletic Rutgers team do? Go what, like 0-9 jacking up terrible 3s in the first ten minutes of the game? Sure. Let’s do it. Shoot a three pointer 4 seconds into the shot clock Jacob Young.
The game was way closer than it had any reason to be, and that second half was tough to watch. BUT WE GET THIS AGAIN! Enjoy the Friday night.
Kind of...: From about 8:00 remaining in the first half to 8:00 remaining the second half, UW outscored PSU 50-24, turning a 26-18 deficit into a 68-50 lead. The Badgers moved the ball, took open 3s in rhythm, and played their typically sound defense. Then, they borrowed a turtle shell from Maryland, and watched PSU close the game on a 17-2 run. Only an excellent defensive play by the beleaguered Nate Reuvers stopped PSU from attempting the game-winning shot. So...survive and advance?
On the plus side, the Badgers are unlikely to lead Iowa by enough to try the stallball shit again, and UW was playing better in their last three losses, so they (probably) shouldn’t get blitzed by the Hawkeyes. Nonetheless, this is still a team with a very thin margin of error and a lot of the gears slip pretty easily.
Quick shoutout to PSU. This was a cursed year for them starting with the Chambers business. I thought they were a tournament contender before that went down, and I continue to think they’re much better than their record. Besides losing both OT games, PSU also lost by 4 @OSU and @Michigan and by 2 @MSU. This was a quality win for UW.
And here’s where everyone stands:
Day 2 in the books. Who goes farthest of these four winners?
This poll is closed
Big Ten Women’s Tournament
 #7 Maryland Terrapins  Nebraska Cornhuskers 73
Nebraska led this one with just under six and a half to go, but Ashley Owusu took over down the stretch, scoring 11 of the Terps’ last 15 points to help Maryland avoid a scare and keep its...do turtles have claws? Talons? Suction cups? whatever...on a 2-seed in the NCAA Tournament.
 Northwestern Wildcats 65,  #13 Michigan Wolverines 49
Super exciting for ‘Cats fans who have been waiting for Joe McKeown’s squad to recapture the magic of 2019-20—the Blizzard defense, stretched into a three-quarters press, harassed Michigan and kept the non-Naz Hillmon Wolverines off-balance, forcing the Wolverines to hit just one of their 15 threes, shoot 29% from the field overall, and rack up a meager +2 margin on the boards.
Along with streaky shooting, that’s been Northwestern’s weakness this year: height and rebounding—Michigan, for example, out-rebounded them 42-31 and 46-31 in their pair of regular season wins—with forwards Paige Mott, Anna Morris, and Courtney Shaw putting in a damn shift yesterday to slow Hillmon down. And Veronica Burton...what a damn star. Lindsey Pulliam is the volume shooter (8/21 yesterday, 18 pts), but Burton is the engine on this club, dropping 25 on 7/14 shooting, adding thirteen rebounds (she is 5’9”), and dishing out 6 assists. She is a blast, and long may this team reign.
Gonna be fun to see them take on Maryland today.
 Michigan State Spartans Presented By Rocket Mortgage 69,  #9 Indiana Hoosiers 61
Well that, uh...that was a surprise.
After opening up a lead as wide as 11 in the first half, Indiana faded in the third quarter as Nia Clouden took over, scoring 15 of her 30 points in a quarter where the Spartans flipped the script on the Hoosiers and forced 7 turnovers. It’s a crushing loss for the Hoosiers, on their best season since the eighties...but we’ll see how they get punished in bracketology later.
 Iowa Hawkeyes 73,  #19 Rutgers Scarlet Knights 62
The Hawks’ bus keeps rolling—last night it was an unexpected (at least by this morning...Iowa fans know two things: that their players always get fouled more than yours, and that they knew guard Gabbie Marshall was going to shoot 7/11 from deep on one of the best defensive teams in the conference, if not the country) 27-point showing by Marshall that added to a double-double from freshman phenom Caitlin Clark and a workmanlike 20 from Monika Czinano.
Bluder’s Bunch are now up to a 6-seed in ESPN’s last bracketology...and with a wide-open bottom half of the bracket, could a Finals appearance make them a 5? Stay tuned...
Looking for some perspective as Michigan enters the chat today or wondering what it’s like to be in Indianapolis for the Big Ten Tournament? Our intrepid actually-good-writer Brian Gillis and our man-on-the-ground Hawkeye Elvis have you covered:
Stay tuned for bracketology, Friday previews, and everything else from Indianapolis! Thanks for making OTE your home for Big Ten basketball.