Minnesota's long Big Ten season is over, mostly as a result of Michael Thompson. The savvy senior guard, affectionately known as Juice, broke Brian Cardinal's Big Ten Tournament single game scoring record by dropping 35 points on the Golden Gophers, sending Northwestern into the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals with a 75-65 win. Cardinal scored 33 in a Big Ten Tournament game For Purdue in 1998.
The win was Northwestern's sixth ever in the Big Ten Tournament, as the Wildcats came into the event with the worst record of the eleven teams in the 14-year old event. The Wildcats are now a step closer to their first ever NCAA Tournament berth, but they likely need to win the tournament and take the automatic bid.
Minnesota struggled to keep up with Northwestern's guard play, as the loss of Al Nolen and Devoe Joseph at midseason sent the Golden Gophers into a tailspin from which they could not recover. By the end, Northwestern's speed and shooting ability overcame Minnesota's superior size. Trevor Mbakwe finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds, including several rim-rattling dunks, but it was not enough to keep the Gophers alive in the tournament. Blake Hoffarber finished with 13 points for Minnesota, who closed at 17-14.
Drew Carawford had 15 points for the Wildcats, while Alex Mercotullio had 13 points. The Wildcats will now face top ranked Ohio State in the quarterfinals. Northwestern only lost by a point at 58-57 to Ohio State during their only meeting of the regular season.