Though only 3-4 early in the season, the Indiana Hoosiers do not feel any magic was involved in their rallying to surprise many by capturing the Big Ten championship.
No. 6 Indiana, with its 75-64 victory Thursday night over Wisconsin, earned its first outright Big Ten title since 1983.After a poor start that included blowout losses to Syracuse, North Carolina and Louisville, Indiana has rallied to a 25-6 record, 15-2 in Big Ten play. The Hoosiers turned their season around when Coach Bobby Knight switched to a three-guard lineup.
After falling behind early Thursday night, the Hoosiers rallied to dispatch Wisconsin for the 19th straight time. An 11-3 spurt gave Indiana a 27-21 lead with 6:04 left in the first half, and the Badgers recovered.
Todd Jadlow scored all 18 of his points in the second half for Indiana. Danny Jones and Trent Jackson each scored 16 points for the Badgers, 17-10 and 8-9.
Elsewhere Thursday night, three other teams earned NCAA Tournament berths by winning conference tourneys. Rutgers edged Penn State 70-66 in the Atlantic 10, Middle Tennessee State nipped Austin Peay 82-79 in the Ohio Valley Conference and Arkansas-Little Rock rolled over Centenary 100-72 in the Trans America Athletic Conference.
Also, No. 9 Michigan survived Northwestern 88-79 and No. 19 Nevada-Las Vegas outscored Cal-Irvine 102-82 in the quarterfinals of the Big West Conference tournament.
At Piscataway, N.J., Rick Dadika hit two 3-pointers in the final 3:14 to help Rutgers hold off Penn State and gain its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 1983.
Tom Savage scored 18 points and Dadika 14 for the Scarlet Knights, 18-12. Bruce Blake led the Nittany Lions, 19-11, with 17 points.
At Nashville, Tenn., Kerry Hammonds converted a 3-point play with 6 seconds left to rally Middle Tennessee State. With Austin Peay leading 79-77, Hammonds turned an offensive rebound into a 3-point play to give the Blue Raiders an 80-79 lead.