As mediocre as the Big Ten
has looked this season (and a major reason why it looks so mediocre is
because expectations were sky-high in October) that big muddled middle
mush should make for an exciting conference tournament. There really is
very little difference between seeds 4-7.
And the league is indicative of college basketball
at large this season. When the brackets are set you'll see not a big
difference between seedings 1-3 in all four regionals. You call it
parity now; but it will result in a very exciting tournament later. Both
in Indianapolis this week, and around the nation the following week.
Expect this to be a very emotional and chippy game, as these two teams got physical with each other early and often in their meeting a week ago.
It was senior night in Evanston, and the only Northwestern senior of
note, Michael "Juice" Thompson, struggled mightily with his shot, but
got it going late, and the Cats prevailed by double digits. Hard to
predict the Gophers to beat anybody without point guard Al Nolen.
They've been a trainwreck since he went down.
#7 Michigan State Spartans 81, #10 Iowa Hawkeyes 69
Only one team from last year's Final Four looks to be in serious danger of missing this year's NCAA Tournament. That college basketball
team was also the national runner-up in 2009, and ranked #2 in
preseason polls this year. Yet here they are, MSU, playing on the first
day of their conference tournament. (For more on State's bubble status
and tourney chances go here) A
win over Iowa does little to help their RPI, that is a no-win
situation honestly. Well they have to win to stay alive for a bid.
#6 Talor Battle 31, Rest of Penn State 44, #11 Indiana Hoosiers 61
This is by far the best/most interesting first day in BTT history.
If Talor Battle gets 20 points (right at his season average) he'll
become the all-time scoring leader in Penn State history. The #8-#9 game
should be at least mildly amusing, and Mich St. plays for their
tournament life in the middle game.
Day 2, quarterfinals
#1 Ohio State Buckeyes 67, #8 Northwestern 43
are the only true #1 seed in the national college basketball tournament
this season. Regardless of what they do here in Indy, they are the big
bracket's overall #1 seed. When you have manhood credentials like that,
your freshmen are allowed to rock out to a sissy song like Miley Cyrus "Party in the U.S.A." which is truthfully their favorite song.
The Illini are probably okay for an at-large berth even without this
win, but this will clinch it for them. The Wolverines should be okay
too, as long as you don't have a lot of bad teams in power conferences
winning their conference tourneys. Illinois leads all time in BTT wins
and winning percentage. They're the only school to be seeded/win their
way into the quarterfinals in every year of the tournament's history.
#2 Purdue Boilermakers 79, #7 Michigan State Spartans 63
It's not easy being green. Or at least it won't be on Selection
Sunday this year. Izzo and company will be sweating like a sauna. This
is an absolute nightmare match-up for them.
Will Jordan Taylor go off for 39 again?
Well, he'll probably have about 17 or so in this game. Which is like 39
in a regular game. Thanks for coming! Penn State. Your mascot starts
with the letters NIT for a reason.
Day 3 Semi-finals
Illini 83, Buckeyes 81 (2 OT)
No, I'm not drunk. I honestly think the Illini seniors will get that long-last sense of urgency
style wake-up call here. And the Buckeyes have nothing to play for
here, so they'll kind of phone this one in a bit. Besides, they need to
get ready for the big boy bracket and right the wrongs of last year's
unexpected early exit. This game, in this exact slot, was by far the
most entertaining game of last year's conference tournament.
If you recall, Illinois had a nice lead on Ohio State, a team that
had absolutely whipped them twice! And they felt the need to start
talking trash at Evan Turner, the man who swept all the national player
of the year awards. (Catch me off-line, I'll tell you which Illini
players said what, and Turner's response to them).
"Interesting strategy Cotton, let see if it pays off for them." Yes,
arrogantly talking smack to the best player in the country, after his
team had already destroyed you twice. You gotta love stones like that.
Even though it backfired.
Badgers 74, Boilers 56
I don't know why Purdue is useless in Indianapolis- they just are.
It's 45 min away, they always have a nice crowd, and usually a nice
seed, but the Boilermakers in Conseco is like going to Bleacher Report
for intelligent insight. Just not going to happen.
Day 4, Final
Badgers 61, Illini 51
Both of these schools have won two conference tournaments. Bo Ryan
beat the Illini both times ('04, '08) when he got his. Here's the
trifecta. Finally, I would like to take this time to point out the 2005
Big Ten tournament preview in the Chicago Tribune. When writer Neil
Milbert picked the higher seed is EVERY SINGLE game of his Big Ten
Tourney bracket. I truly wish I had the minutes of my life returned to
me. What a wast it was reading that. And I hope that was just an error
on the copy-editing end; not Milbert being extremely lazy and/or picking
games like he's seven years old.
Tourney MOP- Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin
Written by Paul M. Banks, President and CEO of The Sports Bank.net, a Midwest webzine. He's also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, the Tribune's blog network, Walter Football, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports
You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank
Filed under: Big 10, College Basketball, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Northwestern Wildcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Penn State Nittany Lions, Purdue Boilermakers, Wisconsin Badgers
Tags: badgers, Big ten basketball, big ten hoops, Big Ten Tournament, big ten tournament conseco, big ten tournament prediction, big ten tournament preview, conseco fieldhouse, illini, izzo, Jordan Taylor, Michigan State, michigan state spartans, ncaa automatic berths, ncaa automatic bids, Ohio State, Ohio State Buckeyes, Purdue, Purdue Boilermakers, Wisconsin Badgers