Sweet Sixteen Reset: Big Ten Edition

Posted by Brendan Brody on March 23rd, 2015

We’re now down to only two B1G teams left playing in the 2014-15 season, as Michigan State and Wisconsin are the only two teams that won both their games this weekend. This is one less team that made the Sweet 16 one season ago, as these two along with Michigan were still alive one year ago. Here are some other quick takeaways from the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament as it relates to the B1G.

Sam Dekker had 17 points to lead to Wisconsin past Oregon and into the Sweet 16 Sunday night. (Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports)

Sam Dekker had 17 points to lead to Wisconsin past Oregon and into the Sweet 16 Sunday night. (Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports)

  • They are Who We Thought They Were: Having two teams left in the field sounds about right for a league that was down a bit this season. As ludicrous as it is to completely bemoan a conference for being overrated (Big 12), or underrated (Pac 12) based simply off the small sample size that is the Big Dance, the Big Ten generally did about as well as expected. They had five teams in the round of 32, which is about the same number of teams that were in or around the top 25 all year. Maryland got a tough break with being a bit underseeded, and paid the price in losing to West Virginia. Iowa and Ohio State played about to expectations, as they would have had to pull off outstanding performances to get the best of Gonzaga and Arizona respectively. Michigan State was a bit of a surprise, but anyone who has seen Coach Tom Izzo‘s March resume, or saw how Sparty played in the Big Ten Tournament knows that this team was geared up to potentially make another March run.

  • Individual Surprises: I don’t think too many people would have thought that the top two freshmen in the conference would have ended their seasons the way that they did. D’Angelo Russell went 3-for-19 from the field in what probably was his final game in an Ohio State uniform. Meanwhile, Melo Trimble ended his first year in a Maryland uniform from the bench after getting knocked out of the game with a head injury. On the positive side of things, Michigan State got an outstanding performance from Travis Trice against Virginia, as the senior guard was able to go 4-for-8 from deep against Virginia’s stifling defense, as he and fellow senior Branden Dawson put the Spartans on their backs as they made their way back to the Sweet 16.
  • Next Weekend and Next Year: Some questions to ponder before things start up once again on Thursday: Will Wisconsin be able to control the defensive backboard against North Carolina? Is Michigan State really now the favorite in their region as a seven seed? Are Arizona and Wisconsin on a collision course for a repeat of last season’s classic? In looking at the eliminated teams, how many of them will be back in the mix next season? NBA early-entry decisions of Russell (more than likely gone), AJ Hammons, Trimble, Yogi Ferrell, James Blackmon Jr, and Troy Williams could very well go a long way toward determining how things will shake out. This doesn’t even get into those non-tournament teams like Nebraska and Michigan who both have players that could also leave early. Thinking about these decisions, combined with the fact that many an elite prospect in the high school Class of 2015 hasn’t committed anywhere, makes figuring out 2015-16 a guessing game at this point.
Brendan Brody (307 Posts)

Brendan Brody is in his fourth season covering the Big Ten for RTC. Email him at brendan.brody@gmail.com, or follow him on twitter @berndon4.

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