Penn State could almost taste the “third” round of NCAA tournament play when the Temple Owls crushed their dreams on a buzzer-beater. Needless to say, the Big Ten teams started off the day right in the middle of the madness. The Nittany Lions lost a 66-64 heart-breaker despite 21 points by guard Talor Battle.
After Penn State’s close loss to Temple, the Big Ten got on the board for the first time when Wisconsin beat Belmont handily 72-58. The Badgers were led by John Leuer’s 22 points and are headed to the second round to face either Kansas State or Utah State, and right now the Wildcats have a substantial lead.
The highlight of the day might go to Tom Izzo’s Michigan State Spartans, who put together a remarkable rally. In the final 8 minutes of play, they outscored the Bruins by more than 20 points. Down by only one point with 4.4 seconds remaining, UCLA hit only one free throw, and Kalin Lucas, a senior, was called for a travel at the end of the game. A tough call, but probably the right call as the Spartans’ rally fell two points short.
Four more Big Ten teams will be in action for tomorrow’s games.