NCAA Tourney Preview, Big Ten Style: Who's In? What Seed?

It's almost Tourrrrrney time! So with the help of Big Ten Powerhouse, SBN's Big Ten Basketball blog, we're going to give a complete rundown of each Big Ten team that's on the bubble or assured of a spot. What's their probable seed? Could they possibly make a run? Which players should you be watching? (Ed. note: I watch a ton of basketball, but some of ya'll might have some valuable insight about what to look for come Tourney time. I look forward to your comments.)

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OHIO STATE

The Bucks are an example of what great recruiting and veteran leadership can lead to. Sullinger is the star, but four players who average double figures show an obviously balanced squad. In my mind, there are is one key right now, When OSU gets to the Sweet Sixteen and runs into a hot St. Johns-esque team, and there is 12 seconds remaining, tie game...Who takes the final shot? Craft via penetration? Lighty dribble drive? Buford mid-range jumper? Sullinger backdown? I don't know the answer. During the two losses to Purdue and Wisconsin, the Buckeyes lacked a go-to player down the stretch, someone who the team looks for to take over.

Big Ten Powerhouse says...

Comments: Ohio State has stumbled twice as of late, but those games were at Wisconsin and at Purdue, both teams are a part of the Big Ten top three. They shouldn't hang their head too much on those losses, as the Kohl Center and Mackey Arena are tough venues for anyone to win. Come tournament time, I think Ohio State will be poised to make their run to the Final Four. 

NCAA Seed Prediction:
 1

Round They Will Lose in NCAA Tourney: Final Four

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PURDUE

Hot at the right time, the Boilers have played themselves into position for a Top 3 seed. What do the Boilers, minus Hummel, do well? Right now, defense: 38%, 38%, 40%, 43%, 35%, 33%...That's some ugly opposing team FG% from the last six games.

Purdue will definitely make it to the second round in the NCAA Tourney, it's just what the Boilers do yearly (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010). Matt Painter has put together another defensive focused team with two stars (Johnson, Moore) who can take over ballgames. The probable two/three seed will push them into a more favorable Sweet Sixteen matchup than the Boilers are used to...but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Big Ten Powerhouse says...

Comments: Purdue is peaking at the right time. From that, I think they receive a better seed than originally anticipated. They are defying the odds without Hummel and I think they can make a run to the Elite Eight as a two or a three seed. Depending on how tough their region is will dictate their Final Four hopes. 

NCAA Seed Prediction:
 2

Round They Will Lose in NCAA Tourney: Elite Eight

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WISCONSIN

I love the Badgers, because they're such an odd team. Tall white dudes who pass the ball around the perimeter and shoot threes? What is this, Europe? (And yes I know that's a vast oversimplification, but seriously, find me another team that looks like Wisconsin...)

Questions about the Badgers are easy to answer. Are they good enough defensively to slow down ball games and dictate pace? Yes. Could Bo Ryan's squad be overwhelmed by a more athletic team in the NCAA Tourney, away from the Kohl Center? Absolutely. But that's his squads identity and Ryan has Jordan Taylor, who's the kind of alpha do-everything guard that coaches dream about.

Big Ten Powerhouse says...

Comments: Given their remaining schedule, I think the Badgers will be okay and receive a good three seed, even if they lose at Ohio State. Of course, they have to have a good run in the Big Ten tournament then, but I think they do it. Bo Ryan's teams are always underrated. 

NCAA Seed Prediction:
 3

Round They Will Lose in NCAA Tourney: Sweet Sixteen

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ILLINOIS

This team looks, physically, like a Top 10 team. Demetri McCamey is an NBA guard...Mike Davis, Jerome Richmond, Bill Cole - all physical specimens.

However, this team, on the court, usually doesn't even play like a Top 25 team. Their defensive effort, not bad, but the offense...sporadic. Someone could probably help me out here with the name of their offense, but it looks like a mismash of post ups and deep threes. Bruce Weber is supposed to be a great coach, right? Can he force the offense to be more cohesive when the Illini pull a #11 or #10 seed in the Tourney?

Big Ten Powerhouse says...

Comments: Illinois has had their struggles this season and although they were expected to do better, they will still make the NCAA Tournament. The first game they play will be the second round against an eight seed if they get my predicted nine seed. I think that is where the road ends for the Illini. Bruce Weber will be on the hot seat. 

NCAA Seed Prediction:
 9

Round They Will Lose in NCAA Tourney: First Round

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MICHIGAN STATE

The story of the year in the Big Ten has been the up and down nature of the Tom Izzo's team. Preseason #2, loaded with the most offensive talent I can remember in East Lansing since Mateen Cleaves and Mo' Pete were there...and then the walls came tumbling down. This 2011 Spartan team has lacked the defensive toughness of every other recent Spartan team and the mid-season struggle, punctuated by the blowout loss to Iowa, was shocking to see. And after the amazing run of success that Izzo has had with his shooting guards (Peterson, Jason Richardson, Shannon Brown, Maurice Ager), the well-documented struggles of Durrell Summers are even more surprising.

55715_ohio_st_wisconsin_basketball_medium

Izzo, who is a God in East Lansing, has nonetheless faced questions about his handling of the on-court persona of this team. Why is Draymond Green taking the ball up the floor when a future NBA player Kalin Lucas is your point guard? Why would Green, a mediocre outside shooter, be given the green light to shoot from outside even on contested shots?

Have the Spartans improved enough lately to weasel their way into the Big Dance? Yes, especially considering the reputation that Izzo's teams have for their March prowess. A late season swoon may push them into the play-in games, but no one wants to play State in March. (One final point - MSU needs to find someone other than Kalin Lucas to score, or it's going to be a short March run)...

Big Ten Powerhouse says...

Comments: Michigan State continues to be less than impressive. They got crushed at home against Purdue on Sunday. With that said, I think they still get in as a 12 seed. I don't even think Tom Izzo has the cure this year.

NCAA Seed Prediction: 12

Round They Will Lose in NCAA Tourney: First
Round

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MICHIGAN

This from ESPN's Bubble Watch: The good news for the Wolverines: If they finish with two wins (at Minnesota, versus Michigan State) and make a decent showing in the Big Ten tournament, they'll still deserve bubble love -- and full-on at-large consideration.

There were two Michigan coaches taken from the not really fertile soil of West Virginia. One of them meddled with the defense and paid the price by getting canned in January. The other, John Beilein, instituted a trapping zone defense that has consistently kept less-than-talented Wolverine teams in games. 2011 showed a really young Michigan team, picked to win 10 games overall, playing so far over its collective head that an NCAA bid is a real possibility.

What do they do well besides play tremendous defense? Well Tim Hardway Jr. is hitting shots on everyone, from everywhere, and Darius Morris is controlling play on the offensive end with his physical drives to the bucket. If Beilein had another effective big guy, this team could make a run. For now though, the potential will suffice in Ann Arbor (although the absolutely most recent ESPN Bottomline says the Wolverines are in).

Big Ten Powerhouse says...

Comments: Michigan has played their way on the bubble. They are a team whose chances to make the tournament will be decided in the final week of regular season play as well as the conference tournament. They will need to win out and make a good run in the Big Ten Tournament to get in. 

NCAA Seed Prediction: 
First Four

Round They Will Lose in NCAA Tourney:
Round One (if they make it)

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MINNESOTA

Losers of seven of their last eight, it's not looking good for the Gophers. Trevor Mbakwe's murderous presence aside, it seems the loss of Al Nolen and Devoe Joseph will doom Tubby Smith to an NIT bid. I put Minnesota in the same boat as Illinois; good looking teams, big players, little cohesion, no penetrating scorers.

Big Ten Powerhouse says...

Comments: Minnesota has gone from easily in, to on the bubble, to off the bubble. To get into the tournament, much like Michigan, they will need to win out and make a good run the Big Ten Tournament. At this point, I don't see them getting in... but it's the Big Ten.. stranger things have happened. Between Michigan and Minnesota, I think only one will get in. 

NCAA Seed Prediction:
 First Four 

Round They Will Lose in NCAA Tourney: Round One (if they make it) 

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