akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

CHICAGO — A couple of the octet of teams who would feature in today’s action at the Big Ten Tournament were in serious need of a victory in terms of staying in the good graces of the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee. Both delivered, and they’ll have a chance to make some bigger nose against the big boys who step on the court in less than 24 hours.

Our coverage of the 2023 Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament highlights the second round action, which started with the bubblicious match-up of No. 9 Rutgers and No. 8 Michigan, a game that the Scarlet Knights won 62-50 behind the strength of its defense. Down by three at halftime, 28-25, the Scarlet Knights held the Wolverines to 4-of-21 shooting in the second half, with Michigan making only one field goal in the first 19 minutes of the second.

Cam Spencer had 18 points to lead the Scarlet Knights, who came into the game after a heartbreaking and résumé-damaging loss to Big Ten bottom-dweller Minnesota in the season finale.

Penn State is probably closer to the NCAA Tournament cut line than the Scarlet Knights are, but the Nittany Lions added another win against an Big Dance-bound team when they held off No. 7 Illinois 79-76 in the first game of the evening session on Thursday. Guard Andrew Funk, one of the most lethal three-point shooters in the country, torched the Fighting Illini defense with 20 points, hitting six three-pointers in the process. Unanimous All-Big Ten First Team selection Jalen Pickett once again stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. The tenth-seeded Lions will now take on No. 2 Northwestern, a matchup from March 1 that the Nittany Lions win 68-65 on a three-pointer from Camren Wynter with less than a second remaining.

In the other two quarterfinal games, No. 13 Ohio State pulled off the upset of No. 5 Iowa, 73-69, while No. 6 Maryland had no trouble in ending Minnesota’s season with a 70-54 victory.

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Friday’s 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 40 pictures in total.

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Tags : Big Ten ConferenceBig Ten TournamentIllinois Fighting IlliniIowa HawkeyesMaryland TerrapinsMichigan WolverinesMinnesota Golden GophersOhio State BuckeyesPenn State Nittany LionsRutgers Scarlet Knights

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