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Big Ten Tournament 2011: Northwestern Polishes Off Minnesota

After a tight first half, Northwestern rallied to crush Minnesota 75-65 in the second half of the first Big Ten Tournament first round game of the day at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Michael Thompson went off for 35 for the Wildcats, finishing 11-22 from the field and 5-12 from the 3-point line. Drew Crawford had a nice day in victory as well finishing with 15 points and six rebounds while Alex Marcotullio 13 points and six rebounds. Star Northwestern forward John Shurna was unusually quiet, scoring only two points in 35 minutes.

Trevor Mbakwe came back from a slow first half to finish with another double-double of 19 points and 11 rebounds as the the Golden Gophers lost their 10th contest in 11 games. Blake Hoffarber and Ralph Sampson III finished with 13 and 12 points respectively.

Northwestern now advances to face No. 1 ranked Ohio State tomorrow in the quarterfinals. The Wildcats will look to improve on their near upset back in Evanston on Jan. 29 when the then-undefeated Buckeyes managed to escape with only a one point win.

Minnesota is almost surely headed for the NIT.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.