The Big Ten Diaries recaps the previous night's action in Big Ten Basketball, but of course, you're probably smart enough to figure that out on your own.
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As Charles Rich already told you, the Spartans set a school-record of fewest points in the shot clock era by scoring only 36 points against the Iowa Hawkeyes on Saturday. On the plus side, at least they were consistent, scoring only 18 points in each half.
Also, let's be fair here. Yes the Spartans played absolutely horribly on Saturday, but it's not like Iowa played that much better. In fact, the Spartans out-shot the Hawkeyes by making 30.8% of their shots. The Hawkeyes could only manage to make 27.5% of their field goal attempts.
Looking at the numbers you can find a hundred reasons why the Spartans lost this game besides their inability to score. They had 18 turnovers, committed 25 personal fouls, and made only 3 of their 12 three-point attempts, but what really killed them was the free throw line. Those 25 personal fouls sent the Hawkeyes to the line 29 times, where as the Spartans only took 4 free throws in the game.
I know we're only halfway through January, but I think it's safe to assume that the Big Ten probably isn't going to get more than five teams into the NCAA tournament this March. Maybe they'll get six if things keep going the way they did on Saturday.
Purdue made their case as the 5th best team in the conference by beating the Buckeyes in Mackey Arena. Marcus Green scored 22 points to lead Purdue, while Keaton Grant dropped in another 14 as the Boilermakers ended Ohio State's 19-game conference win streak.
Along with Purdue, these two teams are the Big Ten's other candidates to fill the conference's final tournament spot(s) and on Saturday Minnesota got a big road win over the Nittany Lions. I've made no secret my doubt about this Gophers team this season, but a win like this helps me believe a little more, though I'm not convinced of anything yet.
The Gophers did storm back from a 16-point deficit in the second half to take this game. Blake Hoffarber led the Gophers in scoring with 22 points, but it was Al Nolen's play over the final 60 seconds that won the game for Minnesota. With the game tied at 73 in the final minute, Nolen picked off a pass from Geary Claxton and took off down the court where he was intentionally fouled by Jamelle Cornley. Nolen hit both free throws, then was fouled again after Minnesota inbounded the ball, and made a third free throw to ice the game.
Well, somebody had to win this game, and the Wolverines figured it might as well be them. Michigan's 10-point victory on the road in Evanston also marked the first conference win for John Beilein. Freshman Manny Harris was Mr. Everything for the Wolverines again, leading the team with 22 points and 8 assists.
The key stretch of the game was the final six minutes of the first half when Michigan outscored Northwestern 22-5 to build a 43-22 halftime lead.
Kevin Coble had a career night for Northwestern and accounted for half of the team's points with 34 points and 8 rebounds in the losing effort.