Monday, March 10, 2003

Big 10: Wisconsin gets top seed for second straight year

The Associated Press

CHICAGO - No. 24 Wisconsin is the top seed in the Big Ten tournament for the second year in a row.

In winning their first conference title outright since 1947, the Badgers (22-6, 12-4 Big Ten) earned a first-round bye in the tournament, which begins Thursday at the United Center. They'll face the winner of the Ohio State-Iowa game Friday in the second round.

The other top five seeds - Illinois, Michigan, Purdue and Michigan State - also got first-round byes.

The tournament begins with eighth-seeded Ohio State playing ninth-seeded Iowa, a rematch of last year's championships game. No. 7 Minnesota will then play Northwestern, the 10th seed, and first-round action will wrap up with sixth-seeded Indiana facing No. 11 Penn State.

In Friday's other second-round games, fourth-seeded Purdue will play fifth-seeded Michigan State. Illinois, the No. 2 seed, faces the winner of the Minnesota-Northwestern game, while No. 3 Michigan plays the winner of Indiana-Penn State.

The semifinals are Saturday and the championship is Sunday.

How Big Ten teams fared in weekend play

Brian Cook picked up the Big Ten scoring title and Illinois continued its dominance over Minnesota, beating them Sunday for the 10th straight time, 84-60.

The Illini (21-6, 11-5 Big Ten) won their 17th straight home game and the Gophers suffered (16-11, 8-8) their fourth consecutive loss as the two teams wrapped up Big Ten regular season play.

Cook, who needed 19 points to stay ahead of Purdue's Willie Deane, scored 22 for No. 14 Illinois, winning the conference scoring title with a 20.1 average.

"I just wanted to go out there and share some moments, being my last home game, with the fellas," said Cook, one of six Illini seniors who played in their final game in Champaign. "I just wanted to play."

Rick Rickert and Jerry Holman each had 12 points for Minnesota.

The Illini will be the second seed in this week's Big Ten tournament and could face the Gophers again Friday if seventh-seeded Minnesota wins a first-round game against 10th-seeded Northwestern.

In Big Ten play on Saturday, Purdue beat host Michigan 69-61, visiting Michigan State humiliated Ohio State 72-58, Iowa beat Northwestern 77-61 in Iowa City, and lowly Penn State pulled off a 74-66 home-court upset of Indiana.

Willie Deane scored a career-high 36 points as Purdue concluded its regular season with a 69-61 win at Michigan.

The win gave the Boilermakers (18-9, 10-6) their sixth double-digit-win Big Ten season in the past decade.

At Ann Arbor, the Wolverines (17-12, 10-6), who have dropped three of their last four games, got within 53-48 with less that four minutes remaining on a 3-pointer by senior LaVell Blanchard.

Blanchard was playing his final game at Crisler Arena. He came in averaging 16.2 points per game, but managed only 11 points against Purdue.

The forward turned his right ankle late in the first half of Wednesday's 78-62 win over Penn State and didn't play much in the second half of that game.

After Blanchard's basket, Purdue scored eight unanswered points, including a Deane 3-pointer with less than 90 seconds to go that put the Boilermakers up 61-48 and sent Michigan fans streaming to the exits.

No other Purdue player scored in double figures Saturday.

Lester Abram and Daniel Horton led Michigan with 15 points apiece.

Meanwhile, at Columbus, Chris Hill scored 20 points and Michigan State shot 63 percent from the field to beat Ohio State.

The Spartans (18-11, 10-6), who have won four in a row and 8 of their final 11, are the No. 5 seed in this week's Big Ten tournament in Chicago. Wisconsin is the top seed, Michigan is seeded third and Indiana, sixth.

Ohio State (14-13, 7-9) will be the eighth seed and will play ninth-seeded Iowa in the opening round. The Buckeyes dropped to 4-4 in Big Ten home games this season.

Paul Davis added 12 points and Kelvin Torbert and Adam Ballinger each had 11 for the Spartans, who used a 9-0 run in the first half and an 8-0 burst in the second to win their 16th of the last 18 games between the teams.

The Buckeyes' Brent Darby made 10-of-11 free throws and had 20 points in his final home game, with Zach Williams adding 13 and Velimir Radinovic 10.

In another final regular-season game, Jared Reiner scored 20 points and three others scored in double figures as Iowa beat Northwestern.

Reiner was 8-of-12 shooting, grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked two shots in just 24 minutes of action. The Big Ten's second leading rebounder took charge in a key stretch in the second half, scoring six points and grabbing a handful of rebounds in a 15-2 run that broke a tie at 46 at the 10:22 mark.

Chauncey Leslie and Greg Brunner scored 15 points apiece and Glen Worley added 10 as Iowa (15-12, 7-9) swept the season series. Iowa shot just 30 percent in the first half, but fueled by Leslie's buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the half shot 56.7 percent in the second.

Northwestern (11-16, 3-12) played without head coach Bill Carmody, who checked into an Evanston, Ill., hospital after practice Friday. Carmody complained of tightness in his chest, stayed overnight for tests and did not make the trip to Iowa City. Assistant coach Paul Lee served as head coach.

The victory guaranteed Iowa will play Ohio State in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.

Jitim Young led Northwestern with 26 points on 9-of-12 shooting, including three 3-pointers.

And the Nittany Lions of Penn State had one last chance to end their season on a high note, so they made the most of it.

Jan Jagla scored 25 points and Sharif Chambliss added 22 as Penn State upset Indiana in a night game.

"I felt kind of an eerie sense of calmness and jubilation for these guys," Penn State coach Jerry Dunn said. "They've played through disappointment, frustration and distractions."

Penn State (7-20, 2-14 Big Ten) went up 56-47 on a B.J. Vossekuil three-point play, then extended their edge to 70-60 on a short jumper by Chambliss 2:18 to go.

Chambliss hit five of six 3-pointers in the game.

Indiana (18-11, 8-8) got within 70-66 with 51 seconds left.

Bracey Wright led Indiana with 21 points.

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