Big Ten Tournament Mission Sheet: What Can Each Team Get From the Event?Posted by Brendan Brody on March 8th, 2017
There are 14 teams in the Big Ten and although each team is ultimately playing to win a conference championship on Sunday afternoon, there are smaller, somewhat more realistic goals for each school involved in the five-day hoops extravaganza. Here’s a closer look at what each Big Ten team should look to gain from the event.
- Illinois: The goal for the Illini is fairly obvious. After losing its regular season finale to Rutgers, Illinois likely has to get to Saturday’s semifinals in order to feel truly confident about its chances.
- Indiana: Indiana needs to find a way to bottle its offense during the first 10 minutes — wherein the Hoosiers scored 32 points — of last weekend’s win over Ohio State. If Tom Crean’s offense can play at that level in Washington, DC, this weekend, Indiana can legitimately win the Big Ten Tournament.
- Iowa: The Hawkeyes have the same goal as Illinois but with less urgency because of the youth of their roster. The longer Iowa stays in this weekend’s tournament, the more quality experience their underclassmen will have heading into next season.
- Maryland: Maryland has taken a whopping 24 three-pointers per contest over its last nine games, making only 33.8 percent of those attempts. The key for the Terrapins is to return to attacking the rim for easy looks and foul shots. Continued over-reliance on the three-ball from a team that requires greater balance could spell an early postseason exit in DC and beyond.
- Michigan: The metrics suggest that Michigan is better than its 20-11 overall record. This means that the Wolverines have a golden opportunity to win the Big Ten tournament and jump a couple of seed lines prior to Sunday’s bracket release.
- Michigan State: The Spartans went 2-7 on the road during conference play and were 4-11 away from home during the course of the season. With such a young and still-developing core, an opportunity to build confidence in a neutral-court environment could determine how long Michigan State will play next week.
- Minnesota: The Gophers have had a top-20 defense all season but their offense has picked up lately because of an increase in tempo and improved ball movement. Minnesota needs to show that it can’t get slowed down like it did in its loss Sunday against Wisconsin.
- Nebraska: Nebraska has shown that it can beat the best teams in the league, but the Cornhuskers closed weakly in losing seven of their last nine games. Winning two games in Washington won’t result in postseason play, but it will help with the program’s offseason momentum.
- Northwestern: Lost in the heartwarming story of the Wildcats likely heading to the NCAA Tournament is that Scottie Lindsey has struggled since returning from an illness. To have any hope of winning in March, Northwestern needs more than 7.6 PPG and 5-of-26 three-point shooting from the junior wing .
- Ohio State: It’s a little late now, but Ohio State needs better consistency on both ends of the floor. How hard it plays against Rutgers on Wednesday with little on the line will tell us what to expect with a roster expected to lose only one senior next season.
- Penn State: Along the same lines, Penn State’s roster is littered with youth playing prominent roles. This team is probably still a year away from becoming a viable threat, so anything it can win this weekend in Washington will help improve upon this season’s 6-12 mark in league play.
- Purdue: Purdue has simply been the best and most consistent team in the Big Ten this season. Winning the Big Ten Tournament would validate that claim and ensure a top-four seed for the Boilermakers on Selection Sunday.
- Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights have already exceeded expectations by winning three games in Big Ten play, but they have never won a conference tournament game. Winning today’s contest against Ohio State is the goal for a long-suffering program that appears on the rise.
- Wisconsin: After cruising to a 21-3 record by mid-February, Wisconsin only won two of its last five games. Last weekend’s win against Minnesota showed that the Badgers can still play elite defense and get hot from the outside. Finding better consistency and rattling off some wins in DC would suggest that this senior-laden lineup is once again a threat to make the Final Four.