Big Ten Morning Five: 03.25.13 Edition
Posted by jnowak on March 25th, 2013
- Michigan State‘s commanding win against Memphis was sweet in East Lansing and Michigan‘s dominant victory against VCU was just as greate in Ann Arbor, but the two teams together gave the state of Michigan something it had never seen before. With two Sweet Sixteen berths, the Spartans and Wolverines have advanced to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament in the same year for the first time ever. The two teams split in head-to-head match-ups this year, with the Spartans routing the Wolverines in East Lansing before Michigan got payback in a close contest in Ann Arbor just a few weeks later. But this weekend at the Palace of Auburn Hills, the state was unified by both teams taking the floor in their home state and advancing to the next weekend of action.
- With the game on the line Sunday afternoon, Ohio State and the Big Ten’s top scorer stood idly by as the team’s point guard handled the late-game duties to advance the Buckeyes to the Sweet Sixteen. It was Aaron Craft, not Deshaun Thomas, who was the focal point against upset-minded Iowa State in Dayton. Craft had an overall up-and-down afternoon, but it ended on a huge up when he drained a three-pointer with Georges Niang in his face to give the Buckeyes a 78-75 win. Craft has always been known for his defensive prowess, but his play over the last month or so has proven he can be a scorer to lead Ohio State to big things.
- Mighty No. 1 seed Indiana is just relieved to be moving on after a tough game against Temple. Yes, that’s right. The Owls were in it the whole way on Sunday, all the way up until the moment when Victor Oladipo hit a three-point dagger in the waning moments in Dayton. Bob Kravitz writes that it was not so much joy that overcame coach Tom Crean after the final buzzer sounded, but relief. The Hoosiers get Syracuse in Washington, DC, next, with a chance to advance to the Elite Eight on the line.
- Let’s not forget that there are other Big Ten teams that are still playing, just outside the auspices of the Big Dance. Iowa has advanced to face Virginia in the NIT, another team that was hovering around the bubble at the end of the regular season. The Cavaliers have some pretty good wins to go along with some puzzling losses, and will present a challenge for the Hakweyes when the two teams tangle on Wednesday in Charlottesville. As Scott Dochterman writes, the teams have plenty of similarities — a deep bench, a good defense, a solid home record — which should make for a tough contest.
- It seems like there have been constant reminders since November that the Big Ten has been the best conference in the country, and the NCAA Tournament has been just the latest in a long line of them. Michigan and Michigan State are holding it down for the Mitten State, with fellow high seeds Indiana and Ohio State also taking care of business early. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though; overall, the Big Ten’s strong start to the NCAA Tournament is one of the best all-time.