Big Ten Morning Five: 03.14.12 EditionPosted by Ryan Terpstra on March 14th, 2012
- Perhaps no Big Ten team was happier on Selection Sunday than Indiana, who has waited three long years to return to the NCAA Tournament. After suffering through three straight seasons of 20 or more losses, it feels good to have things going back in a positive direction for the Hoosier faithful. Among other interesting notes, IU has played eight teams that are in this year’s NCAA Tournament, and went 8-5 against them. Granted, more than half were in-conference foes, but that win over #1-overall-seed Kentucky certainly stands out.
- If they were disappointed that their team didn’t make the NCAA Tournament, you certainly couldn’t have figured that out from the way Iowa fans acted during their first round NIT win over Dayton last night. Hawkeye fans got the party started when they were asked to stand for the National Anthem, and kept the volume turned up the entire game, as Aaron White put up a career-high 25 points in the victory. Not only was Carver-Hawkeye Arena one of the toughest places Dayton has played this year, but it was also more full than usual, even with the student body on spring break.
- Michigan State enters the NCAA Tournament as the highest-rated seed among Big Ten schools. The Spartans earned their #1 distinction after a thrilling win in the Big Ten Tournament final. After coming home from Indianapolis on their bus, the team was greeted by fallen comrade Branden Dawson. It was there in the Breslin Center locker room that the players held a impromptu net-cutting ceremony specifically for Dawson, who underwent surgery for his torn ACL and didn’t make the trip with the team to the tournament. It is that kind of chemistry that defines this Spartan squad, and has people asking how far it can take MSU.
- For Michigan fans, it was a little ironic to see that the Wolverines drew Ohio University in its first game. Head football coach Brady Hoke has famously referred to Ohio State as “Ohio” during his first year as head man of the program, and John Beilein has caught the “Ohio” fever and followed suit. Now, Michigan will play the “real” Ohio, and Beilien is trying to prepare for the Bobcats. Ohio head coach John Groce was a former assistant at OSU, and that only adds to the spice of what already will be an interesting way to find out “what’s in a name?”
- You have to feel for Northwestern, as missing the NCAA Tournament yet again was frustrating for players and fans alike. One play they are familiar with is the NIT, where they are competing for the fourth straight year, holding on to defeat Akron last night to advance to the next round. But with dreams of the Big Dance dashed, the NIT can be a tough sell for fans who want to see the program take the next step. It would be a statement of sorts to win the NIT, and possibly gather some momentum for next season as the program still looks to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time.