INDIANAPOLIS — Let there be no doubt that the Indiana Hoosiers will be playing in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in six years.
Actually, it was Trayce Jackson-Davis who took care of that for IU for all of us to witness over the past two days.
We begin our quarterfinal coverage of the 2022 Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament with a seismic blast sent throughout the world of the NCAA Tournament bubble, as the Indiana Hoosiers, the No. 9 seed in the tourney, just ousted the top-seeded Illinois Fighting Illini 65-63 to advance to Saturday’s semifinals. Just over 24 hours ago, the Hoosiers, who are either just inside or outside of the cut line for the NCAA Tournament depending on which bracketologist tickles your fancy the most, were down 60-43 to eighth-seeded Michigan in their second-round game, in danger of being bounced by a fellow bubble team and dreading another anxious wait until Selection Sunday.
From then on, Jackson-Davis has transformed from an All-Big Ten Second Team selection into a Marvel superhero. Not only did he score 19 second-half points against the Wolverines, 15 of those came in the game-ending 31-9 run to secure Indiana’s 74-69 victory. For good measure, he also blocked four shots in the half.
Against the Illini and All-Big Ten First Team selection Kofi Cockburn, all Jackson-Davis did was drop 15 of his 21 points in the second half, including finishing a layup over Cockburn inside to give the Hoosiers at 60-59 lead with 3:24 remaining. The winning points from the Hoosiers came from Jackson-Davis at the free throw line after he drew a foul inside on Cockburn, making both free throws to give the Hoosiers the lead for good, 64-63, with 26 seconds remaining.
Any remaining doubts about Indiana’s curriculum vitae it will send to the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee have been put to bed over the last 48 hours.
Indiana will await the winner of the 4-5 matchup between the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and Iowa Hawkeyes. In the evening session, No. 7 Michigan State will take on Big Ten Player of the Year Johnny Davis and Wisconsin, while the No. 11 Penn State Nittany Lions will look to pull another shocker against No. 3 seed Purdue in the nightcap.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Friday’s quarterfinal games, with the photos taken by Detroit-area photographer Aaron J. Thornton. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 11 pictures in total.