Boy, what fun the Big Ten Tournament turned out to be! Of course, there are several teams who probably wished it had gone differently. Beating Purdue on Friday night instead of getting pummeled (Hummeled?) might have been enough to get Penn State into the Big Dance. Winning the tournament might have given Michigan State a #1 seed, since everyone else in the country insisted on losing. Purdue even perhaps regret that their first tournament championship is rewarded by a trip to Portland, Oregon while the runner-up Buckeyes get to travel all the way to…..Dayton.
I don’t really care to go through the entire bracket and talk about my picks in each place. Instead, let’s look at the Big Ten teams in the first and second round.
(2) Michigan State heads to Minneapolis to face Robert Morris. While the second seed has lost the opener in the past, it’s a pretty rare occurence, and the Spartans will survive to face the winner of USC/BC. I’ve picked both teams in different brackets, but I don’t think either of them will be able to stop Michigan State from making it to the Sweet 16.
(5) Purdue finally seems to have gotten in rhythm, but the question is how consistent will they be? With Robbie Hummel healthy and back in shape, Northern Iowa will be one-and-done. On Saturday, the Boilermakers will get the winner of Washington/Mississippi State. Mississippi State is riding high after their improbable win in the SEC tourney, but Washington is playing much closer to home. Having not seein either team, I’ll have to say that Washington will be the team that gets to lose to Purdue.
(5) Illinois fans are complaining that they got seeded too low. What they should be complaining about is the fact that Chester Frazier appears to be out for at least the first round, which could be a problem. The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers have a descent basketball heritage, and I like them to get the upset. Even if they don’t, President Obama says the Illini don’t survive this weekend.
(8) The Ohio State University won’t even need to bring luggage as they travel the 70 miles to Dayton. They’ll get to face Siena, at team I like for an upset. However, when you consider the fact that Evan Turner and BJ Mullens are likely auditioning for the NBA draft, it seems reasonable that tOSU will win. Even so, they won’t be able to overcome Big East powerhouse Louisville.
(10) Michigan has the potential to upset Clemson, especially if Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims are having a good night. However, after Harris broke Chris Kramer’s nose, I swore myself to not endorse the Wolverines for the rest of the season. I might end up being wrong, but I’ll knock Michigan out in the first round.
(10) Minnesota should have been left out in favor of Penn State. I know the Gophers look better from an objective standpoint, but the simple fact is that they’ve looked like crap lately. That’s why I think they won’t be able to beat the Longhorns.
(12) Wisconsin is lucky to be here after the start they had to the conference season. Florida State is lucky to draw the Badgers, since that gets them into the second round.
So where does that leave us? Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, and Illinois are one-and-done. tOSU is gone after the second round. Purdue and Michigan we’ll see next week. That doesn’t do much for a conference trying to silence critics.