Big Ten: Opening Round Notes

By Phil Kasiecki - March 09, 2007

CHICAGO - We're about to head over to the United Center for the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament. Before that, a quick wrap-up of the first day of action is in order.

Day one of the Big Ten Tournament saw the higher seed win all three games, all of them close. None were offensive clinics, although Michigan State shot 58 percent in their win over Northwestern (they had 16 turnovers), and all featured late rallies that fell short. All three teams who lost are done, as none will see the NIT.

Best Players:

  • Drew Neitzel, Michigan State: 20 points on 6-11 shooting, including 5-7 from long range, 6 assists, no turnovers
  • Chester Frazier, Illinois: Career-high 21 points on 7-11 shooting, including 5-9 from long range
  • Warren Carter, Illinois: 19 points on 5-8 shooting, 3 steals
  • Mike Walker, Penn State: 22 points on 7-12 shooting, including 7-11 from long range

Are they in yet? Illinois and Michigan State looked to be in reasonably good shape for an NCAA Tournament at-large bid entering the tournament, and their wins on Thursday didn't hurt that, at the very least. Neither win would go down as the most quality of wins, but had they lost, they might sweat it out on Sunday. Michigan got another win, but the Wolverines likely still need to knock off Ohio State on Friday to have a shot at an at-large bid.

Other Notes:

  • Michigan's 49 points in the opener is the lowest winning point total in the tournament's history and marked the first time a winning team scored less than 50 points.
  • Minnesota interim head coach Jim Molinari is expected to have a shot at getting the job permanently, although some other outlets are reporting that the school will pursue coaches like Chris Lowery (Southern Illinois). Asked if he hopes to be a head coach again, Molinari said, "that's what I would like to do at the highest level, no doubt."
  • Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo spent a little time in the press conference saying he didn't prepare his team that well, although he gave Northwestern credit as a tough team to prepare for.
  • Illinois senior Rich McBride struggled shooting the ball, as he was 1-9 from the floor, all from long range. But to his credit, he handed out 10 assists to help the Illini pull out the win.

We'll come back with more in a little while from the United Center in just a little bit.

Posted by Phil Kasiecki at 10:06 AM on March 09, 2007

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