Three Initial Thoughts on the Big Ten TournamentPosted by Deepak Jayanti (@dee_b1g) on March 10th, 2014
There aren’t many things clear as we head into this week’s Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis. We know that the Wolverines are the best team in the league, but several question marks remain about the other 11 teams. The following are three initial thoughts about the tournament’s draw.
- Two teams that have a lot to prove in Indianapolis: Iowa and Michigan State. Both of these squads are limping into the tournament and they need to gain some confidence before they head to the Big Dance. The Hawkeyes were stunned at the buzzer by Jon Ekey’s Illini on Saturday and appear to have no clue on the defensive end anymore. Devyn Marble continues to impress, but the rest of his teammates need a jump start soon or this group will be an early upset in both tournaments. Under the assumption that the Hawkeyes beat Northwestern on Thursday, they will then face the Spartans on Friday, a team that has its own set of issues. Against Ohio State, Michigan State played fairly well, but Tom Izzo’s team didn’t seem to have a clear leader on the floor at the end of the game. This shouldn’t be very surprising because it has been a while since all of their starters have played together, but they need to use their time this weekend in Indy to figure out any lingering issues with team chemistry. From a seeding perspective, both teams could stand to win a couple of games here to shore up their positions — for Iowa, to get away from the #8/#9 game; for Michigan State, to remain a protected top-four seed and possibly move up to a more favorable #3 draw.
- Did Nebraska really get a first round bye? Yep, the Huskers are for real after they beat the Badgers at home Sunday night to lock up a bid to the NCAA Tournament. The draw sets up fairly well for Nebraska because Tim Miles’ team will get the winner of the Ohio State vs. Purdue game. As everyone knows, the Buckeyes aren’t great offensively and they already lost once in Lincoln this year. It’s not outside the realm of possibility for Nebraska to win a couple of games in Indinapolis on its way to 20+ wins and really shake up the old guard of the Big Ten by crashing the party.
- Can Wisconsin and Michigan each earn #2 seeds in the NCAA Tournament? If we’re left with a Big Ten tournament final between these two teams, the question is whether that would mean anything to the Selection Committee. But if either team won two games, you’d have to figure that at least one of them will have earned a #2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Three of the #1 seeds appear to be locked up among Wichita State, Florida and Arizona, so it is unlikely that either Big Ten power could make a run for a top seed. But a #2 seed should be fair game and within reach for both. If Michigan were to win both the regular season and the conference title, the Wolverines would have an exceptionally strong argument for a #2 seed. Wisconsin, on the other hand, has played one of the toughest schedules in college basketball this season, and a run to the Big Ten finals would probably put the Badgers in very good shape for a #2 seed as well.