Sports

Bethel student comes away impressed with Big Ten Tournament

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Evan Turner the Big Ten Player of the Year led the Ohio State Buckeyes to the Big Ten Tournament Championship. The Buckeyes won by the final score of 90-61 over the Minnesota Gophers (Photo by Sports Illustrated).
Evan Turner the Big Ten Player of the Year led the Ohio State Buckeyes to the Big Ten Tournament Championship. The Buckeyes won by the final score of 90-61 over the Minnesota Gophers (Photo by Sports Illustrated).
Last week I attended the 2010 Men’s Big Ten Basketball Tournament which was held at Conseco Fieldhouse. My experience was filled with thrilling victories, stunning defeats, and significant individual performances. During the four days, there were several great endings consisting of a buzzer beater at the end of regulation, an overtime upset, and a double overtime shocker. Overall, the most noteworthy part of the tournament was the surprising performance by the Minnesota Gophers. The Gophers entered the tournament with a 9-9 Big Ten record and only 18 wins overall. Nevertheless, Tubby Smith’s sixth seeded Gophers won three games in three days and played themselves into the NCAA Tournament. Although I am not a fan of Minnesota, I could not help but jump onto their bandwagon after the toughness they showed against both Michigan State and Purdue. Due to the first day consisting of all the higher seeds advancing, it did not have the intensity it would have over the next two days. Michigan began the day by overcoming Iowa 59-52. The next game was held between the Northwestern Wildcats and the Indiana Hoosiers. The Hoosiers showed a lot of heart; nevertheless the Wildcats were able to hold them off by a score of 73-58. During the last game of the night, Minnesota crushed the Penn State Nitney Lions by a score of 76-55. I was a little disappointed after the performances of the first day; however, it would not stay that way for long. The next day opened up with a thrilling contest between Michigan and their arch nemesis Ohio State. Michigan played great from behind the entire second half and even took the lead with 2.2 seconds left due to a great lift from Manny Harris who finished with 26 points. Michigan was looking to get to the next round until they forgot to guard the Big Ten Player of the Year, Evan Turner, who dribbled down the court and fired a deep three at the buzzer that hit nothing but net. Everyone at Conseco went crazy unless they were a Michigan faithful who sat there stunned. Many of the fans had begun pulling for the Michigan come from behind upset; however, the buzzer beater which left Turner’s hands with .2 seconds left captured the heart of nearly every one of the spectators in attendance. During the next two games Illinois upset Wisconsin by four and Purdue disposed of Northwestern by a final score of 69-61. Nevertheless, the last game of the day was a nail-biter as the Minnesota Gophers took advantage of Michigan State going absolutely cold. The Gophers led for most of the game but the Spartans eventually tied the game with 4 seconds to play. Devoe Joseph took the last shot for Minnesota which was just wide and instead of seeing two buzzer beaters in one day this game was headed into overtime. In overtime Minnesota had two of their starters foul out. After Michigan State took an early three point lead, Minnesota went on a 10-0 run which earned them a bid to the semi-finals. On day three, Ohio State came out cold, and Illinois took advantage by claiming an eleven point lead with twelve minutes remaining in the second half. Just like the day before, Ohio State woke up after having their backs against the wall and went on a 20-0 run to take a nine point lead. Illinois would end up tying it, however, and had a shot to win the game at the end of regulation. Nevertheless, they missed a wide open layup that Mike Davis didn’t get off in time. They would continue to do the same in the next overtime which had to be devastating for all Illini fans. Because they did not capitalize on either situation, the Buckeyes made them pay by beating them by seven points in the second overtime. Evan Turner turned in another dominating performance as he finished with 31 points. Although Ohio State was the one seed, I couldn’t help but siding with the Buckeyes after how exciting they had been to watch the last two days. The second game of the day was the complete opposite. Minnesota destroyed the Purdue Boilermakers which shocked every fan in attendance. Purdue was cold the entire game and nearly had nine points at the end of the first half until Johnson hit a buzzer beating jumper for the Boilers. I remember thinking that because there were so many Purdue fans in attendance that they might be able to make a run and make things interesting in the second half. However, I was proven wrong as Minnesota played a great second half. Minnesota was able to put their subs in early as they sent the Boilers home by a score of 69-42. In the Championship game, I could not decide who I would root for. Minnesota had been a great story, defeating Michigan State and Purdue the last two days. Nevertheless, Ohio State had been so exciting to watch with two thrilling victories. However, it did not matter as Minnesota would later run out of gas. They played a great first half which put them down three, but they were clearly too exhausted to play with the superior Buckeyes who appeared much fresher and upbeat. Although it was not as great of an ending as I hoped, I was happy for both Ohio State and Minnesota. Ohio State had clearly deserved the title after the previous two victories. On the other hand, Minnesota had played themselves into the tournament. This was significant as the Gophers were not even on the bubble heading into the tourney. Overall, the tournament was a great experience due to all the intense finishes. I will never forget witnessing Evan Turner draining a deep three to keep their Big Ten Championship hopes alive.
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