Six Big Ten Teams Have Their Dancing Shoes On

Posted by jnowak on March 12th, 2012

There are six Big Ten teams in the NCAA Tournament. So what? So let’s dance!

Big Ten fans everywhere should be excited about their team’s prospects in the tournament. The conference has been considered the best in the nation all season, and more than a few squads have the goods to make the Final Four in New Orleans. Here’s a brief look at each of the six Big Ten teams’ first-round games, with some thoughts from our Big Ten contributors Joey Nowak (@joeynowak) and Ryan Terpstra (@terphimself):

Tom Izzo is a master in March. How far can he take his Spartans this year? (Justin Wan/The State News)

#1 Michigan State vs. #16 Long Island University-Brooklyn

  • Ryan Terpstra: A #16 has never beaten a #1, and that won’t change for MSU. The Spartans are playing great, and are 3-for-3 in going to Final Fours when they’ve entered the tournament as a #1 seed. It would behoove them to build an early lead and put the game out of reach so they can rest some starters, because a potential matchup with Memphis would be a tough one for the next round.
  • Joey Nowak: What is there to say about a #1-#16 match-up? As a Brooklyn resident, I’ve been rooting for LIU-Brooklyn the last couple weeks, until I found out they’re matched up against my alma mater. I honestly think this game will be competitive for most of the first half before the Spartans pull away.

#2 Ohio State vs. #15 Loyola

  • RT: The Buckeyes are disappointed to not be a #1 seed after losing in the Big Ten Tournament, but their talent and size can’t be matched by many teams. They should overpower Loyola easily, but a possible game against West Virginia wouldn’t be such a pushover.
  • JN: The Buckeyes probably feel a little burned after losing to the Big Ten Tournament championship game, and that’s bad news for Loyola. Ohio State plays always rebounds well from losses and has shown in the last two weeks that this team means business.
#4 Wisconsin vs. #13 Montana
  • RT: A good seed for the Badgers delivers another favorable matchup. Wisconsin’s inside-outside offense and ball control always makes them a tough out in the NCAA Tournament.
  • JN: Since Wisconsin presents such a unique style, Bo Ryan‘s group thrives against unfamiliar teams in the NCAA Tournament. Montana won’t know what hit ’em.

#4 Indiana vs. #13 New Mexico State

  • RT: Indiana goes from a #5 seed in the Big Ten Tournament to a #4 seed in the Big Dance. Not a bad jump for the Hoosiers. I really like IU’s opening game, and their prospective second-game matchup with Wichita State could be one of the best of the Tournament. I hope the loss of Verdell Jones III doesn’t hurt them too much.
  • JN: You have to wonder how Indiana will continue without  Jones and now that they’ll be tested in important games outside their home state. This offense is too powerful to be stopped in the first round, and I expect Tom Crean to have his guys focused in the tournament.

#4 Michigan vs. #13 Ohio 

  • RT: The Wolverines are the third #4 seed for the conference, and probably should’ve been seeded a little higher. That said, there is some irony that they’ll be playing the real Ohio, after losing to the school that Brady Hoke refers to as “Ohio” in the Big Ten tourney. Michigan just needs to keep their shooters cooking to advance.
  • JN: No doubt the staff in the football and basketball offices in Ann Arbor is in a tizzy now that the Wolverines are actually playing “Ohio.” The Wolverines are a weird matchup and susceptible to upsets because they don’t have a post presence and can go cold from long distance. I don’t expect that to happen, as long as Trey Burke rebounds from his miserable performance against Ohio State on Saturday.

#10 Purdue vs. #7 St. Mary’s

  • RT: The only Big Ten team not “favored” in its opening matchup is the Boilermakers.  However, this will be a great #7-#10 game. Big-time players need to come through in these spots, and Purdue will rely heavily on Robbie Hummel to try to move on for a possible game with Kansas.
  • JN: St. Mary’s is used to being a trendy upset pick come Tournament time, but finds itself as the higher seed in this one. Matthew Dellavedova is one of those pesky players who you hate to play against, but would love to have on your team. I’m interested to see him vs. Lewis Jackson.
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