Tony Carr struggles as Penn State's run ends in Big Ten semifinals

Big Ten Tournament Notebook Nightmare season over for Pitino Gophers

Ohio State forward Miguel Fidler controls the puck next to Wisconsin goalie Jack Berry during last year's Big Ten tournament. With a win, they should lock up a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament and keep alive a shot at a No. 1.

The Buckeyes drew a No. 2 seed in the league tournament, their best finish in the Big Ten and best since their 2005 squad finished second in the defunct Central Collegiate Hockey Association. Andy Katz of NCAA.com said its best path to the Big Dance likely would have been to reach the Big Ten title game to prove it can beat an elite team outside of Ohio State.

Third-seeded Purdue (28-5) faces No. 5 MI, which will try to repeat as tournament champs on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

The Wolverines are playing their best ball of the season, right now.

MI fans have seen this movie before, of course. If there was one school that was going to fill Madison Square Garden no matter the round, no matter the time, MI was the automatic. "They probably had the most talent".

"The crowd was huge", Wolverines senior Duncan Robinson said.

"We weren't really alive on defense, with our legs", Keady said. "And it was a difference maker".

This is why March - even before teams start dancing - is so rewarding.

The depth of the league was on display in the opening round of the conference tournament over the weekend. But lately, Rahkman has been bigger than just about everybody. The Wolverines have held seven straight opponents well under one point per possession.

Garner went 4 for 5 from 3-point range, including a four-point play, to carry Penn State in the first half.

Bottom line: Few teams have looked as good over the past three weeks as MI, the No. 5 seed in the Big Ten tournament. The fickle, but fun, nature of conference tournaments. Maybe Michigan quietly winds up as a No. 6 seed.

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Whether it's with defense, timely perimeter shooting or his nifty ability to get to the bucket, Rahkman is making the Wolverines go right now. "When you're confident as a team, you just let the game come to you". And that's not abiding to the Beilein mantra. It just forces you to be better every week: your coaches to be better, your players to be better. This Michigan team is not like the ones we've seen thrive before.

Yet, somehow, the Wolverines have done a good job of filling them. Taking open threes and outside shots within the flow of the offense is fine. MI ranks sixth in KenPom.com's defensive efficiency ratings, which consider the quality of the opposition.

Added Beilein: "It was an ugly three, but it was pretty to MI".

MI now ranks sixth in defensive efficiency and a good-not-great 35th on offense.

"I'm 1-3 against them".

Purdue has not won the Big Ten Tournament since 2009. It's weird to see MI like this, but it's also intriguing because it brings out the possibility that Beilein's found a way to twist how we view him and his program.

It was hard to know what to expect from this MI basketball team at the start of the season.

"Well, I'm an optimist", Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. Zavier Simpson's defense has been shut down in NYC and he will need to be on point again today.

"I thought our team battled better, managed the puck better, obviously the shots on goal weren't as high", Pearson said. "Some of it is players and I don't know if some of it is coaching staff and what they did".

Miles Bridges had 17 points and seven rebounds to lead the Spartans.

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