Only four teams in the Big Ten held opponents to under 1.00 points per possession in conference play this season. Two of them were eliminated last night.
Purdue held on to defeat Northern Iowa 61-56 in a 62 possession game. It wasn't the prettiest game, but Purdue is well-versed in the ways of winning ugly. It was typical Purdue ball, in that there was plenty of poor shooting on both sides of the floor, but the Boilers won the turnover battle. E'Twaun Moore led the way with 17 points on 10 shots, and JaJuan Johnson chipped in 14. Box score. The Boilermakers will go on to face Washington, who easily took care of Mississippi State.
Minnesota was downed by Texas, 76-62 in a 67 possession game, putting an end to the Gophers' season. Minnesota was plagued by the problem that has hounded them all season - an inability to simply put the ball in the basket. The Gophers shot just 40% in this one, while Texas was raining three pointers. Lawrence Westbrook led Minnesota with 19 points on 14 shots. Box score. Despite the loss, this was a good season for Minnesota, who went to the Dance for the first time in four seasons. They'll probably be back next year as well, and probably a bit better, as Coach Smith is bringing some quality recruits to Minneapolis.
Michigan pulled an upset over Clemson, 62-59 in a 62 possession game. The Wolverines hounded Clemson into a 36.1 effective field goal percentage, which is usually a good recipe for success. The reason this one was close at all was because the Tigers rebounded nearly half of their numerous misses. Manny Harris was brilliant, with 23 points on 15 shots, as well as 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Box score. Michigan will go on to face Blake Griffin and the Oklahoma Sooners.
Illinois made it interesting at the end, but ultimately they fell short, losing 76-72 to Western Kentucky in a 73 possession game. For most of this game, the Hilltoppers were raining three pointers on the Illini. Then Illinois mounted a furious comeback in the game's final 4 minutes, cutting a 15 point lead down to 2. But ultimately, it wasn't enough - Deron Williams wasn't walking through that door - and the Illini came up short. Trent Meacham led the team in scoring in his final game with 24 points on 15 shots. Box score. Though the Illini limped to the finish line, this was a nice rebound of a season for Bruce Weber's crew. The real sour note here is that Chester Frazier had to finish his career on the bench, sidelined with an injury. He deserved better than that.
In the NIT, Penn State prevailed over Rhode Island 83-72 in a 67 possession game. The Nittany Lions put on a fine offensive display, powered by 31 free throw attempts. This was especially impressive considering Jamelle Cornley was out with an injury. Stanley Pringle led Penn State with 19 points on 11 shots. Box score. They go on to face the winner of Florida/Miami for a chance to head to Madison Square Garden.