Indiana and Northwestern made sure there was very little drama for those trying to catch the Metro prior to closing.
The thought coming into the night session was there would be two good games. Most looked forward to Indiana-Iowa being a first class shootout that could come down to the end. Instead, the Hoosiers got red hot and turned a 3 point halftime lead into a 95-73 victory.
James Blackmon Jr. was on fire. He was 7-9 from the field (4-5 from the 3 point line). His 23 points and 8 rebounds helped turn a close game into a rout but that wasn’t the narrative after the game. Coach Crean and his players spoke extensively how better defense led to the offensive explosion. When Blackmon Jr. was asked about his hot night he said ” Really it was just locking in on the defensive end. That’s what I think got me going.”
Iowa coach, Fran McCaffrey, lamented the fact that they sped up their offense when Indiana made runs. “They really kept our composure” McCaffrey said. “In the second half, we did not. We started quickshooting the ball.”
The night game saw 31-0 run by the Northwestern Wildcats as they steam their way into their first ever NCAA tournament bid. Rutgers saw their 9-6 lead go to a 37-9 deficit before they scored another basket. The Wildcats had four players score in double digits and got some needed rest for their starters.
Northwestern’s Vic Law said about the 31-0 run ” It felt like we were clicking on all cylinders tonight.”
Rutgers season comes to an end but they have a bright future. After the loss, Coach Steve Pikiell said “I’m very excited to be the head coach. I love the university. It’s a great place. Building a new practice facility, great athletic director, a lot of real positive things going on.”
Indiana faces Wisconsin in the Quarterfinals
Northwestern face Maryland in the Quarterfinals
Marcus “Mook” Washington is the host of Making The Cut. Follow Mook on Twitter: @mtcwithmook and IG: MTCWithMook