The Big Ten will send 5 teams to the tournament this year. Some experts say that it should have been 6 teams, with Illinois being the sixth. Bottom line is Illinois didn’t do enough to make the tournament committee’s decision an easy one. Every year their will be a couple teams that feel like they got “screwed”. But in my opinion, that’s what makes the tournament so special. I’m not in favor of the expansion to 96 teams. I think it will hurt the NCAA tournament. Some people that think more players should experience the NCAA tournament and expanding the field to 96 teams will help with that effort. I say to those people, why do you think the NCAA tournament experience is so special for players and coaches? Because not everyone gets to go! If you let more teams in, then in my opinion you run the risk of making it less of an achievement to appear in the tournament. Sorry about the rant…back to the Big Ten’s tournament teams.
The five teams representing the Big Ten are as follows:
Ohio State: 2 seed, Mid-West region
Purdue: 4 seed, South region
Wisconsin: 4 seed, East region
Michigan State: 5 seed, Mid-West region
Minnesota: 11 seed, West region
Ohio State (2) vs. UC Santa Barbara (15): I don’t need to spend much time on this match-up or miss-match. This is the only Big Ten team that won’t be in for a dog fight in the first round. Evan Turner and company will cruise into the second round. I have the Buckeyes being eliminated in the sweet sixteen, but they certainly have final four type talent. Unfortunately, they find themselves in a very difficult bracket.
Purdue (4) vs. Siena (13): There has been a lot of talk about Purdue and how they’ve struggled without Robbie Hummel. The Boilers find themselves matched up against a tournament tested Siena team. I think Purdue continues to struggle and Siena upsets (if you can call it that) the Boilers. I actually have this Siena team in my sweet sixteen.
Wisconsin (4) vs. Wofford (13): The Badgers always find a way to survive and advance in the tournament. They win ugly…which is a trademark of a Bo Ryan team. Wofford is making their first ever tournament appearance and it looks to be a short one. I see the Badgers by double digits in this one. I have the Badgers getting upset by Cornell in the second round, but if they prove me wrong I think they could give Kentucky fits in the sweet sixteen. We’ll see if they prove me wrong.
Michigan State (5) vs. New Mexico State (12): The dreaded 5-12 match-up. This match-up always seems to produce upsets every year. Good thing for the Spartans, they are 5-0 as a 5 seed. This trend will continue as they should win by double digits. I have the Spartans beating Maryland in the second round, but it should be a real battle. I toyed with the idea of having MSU taking down Kansas in the sweet sixteen. I think the Spartans actually match-up really good with Kansas. Lucas should hold his own with Collins and Green with Aldrich. But since you never know which MSU team will show up this year I had to go with the Jayhawks as they have been consistent all year.
Minnesota (11) vs. Xavier (6): The only Big Ten team that will not be favored in the first round. I like Tubby Smith’s ability to get his team ready in a tournament situation. They will face a tough Xavier team but I like the Gophers to advance to the second round. I have Minnesota losing in the second round to Pitt.
So I have 4 out of the 5 Big Ten teams picked to win in the first round, but only 2 advancing past the first weekend into the sweet sixteen (MSU and Ohio State). I don’t have either MSU or Ohio State advancing to the elite eight, but what the heck do I know? Honestly, even though I didn’t pick my bracket this way, Ohio State, MSU and Wisconsin all have legit shots at getting to the elite eight and maybe further. Should be a decent showing by the Big Ten.