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2013 NCAA Tournament: Big Ten Thoughts

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Trends, Matchups, Predictions

USA TODAY Sports

After my thousandth look at brackets, here are my initial thoughts on the Big Ten teams in this year's NCAA Tourney. I believe other thoughts need to be hashed out in the comment thread, such as, what kind of reputation damage will the B1G sustain if the conference struggles mightily? How many B1G teams need to make the Final Four to make it a successful year?

INDIANA (Predicted finish: Final Four)

The Hoosiers aren't playing badly and Zeller is typically the best player on any floor he steps on. I see a smooth ride to the Elite 8, where Butler or Miami FL will be waiting. My main takeaway? Indiana has more talent than any team in the East Region, so I am comfortable with my Final Four pick.

OHIO STATE (Predicted finish: Final Four)

Dickie V's pick for National Champs, playing in what people are referring to a "cake" region. I actually disagree about the cake-ness of this region; ND is a big team, Iowa State shoots tons of three's, New Mexico is surprisingly solid...and Gonzaga is not some soft West Coast team. Still, I will hold some B1G faith in great defense and veteran leadership, as the Bucks make their way past Gonzaga to the Final Four.

MICHIGAN STATE (Predicted finish: Sweet 16)

A chic pic for the Final Four because of Tom Izzo and, you know, all that "we play for March" stuff. Sadly the Spartans are in the hardest region of 2013...and the Izzo advantage is somewhat nullified by weak three point shooting, not to mention the presence of Pitino and Coach K.

MICHIGAN: (Predicted Finish: Round of 32)

Do y'all remember when Purdue was a darkhouse candidate for winning the Big Ten football conference in 2012? Do y'all remember when I trashed this idea, saying it was an idea that was just an idea, nothing more, with no proof, thrown out just for the sake of finding a dark horse? When people want to talk about Michigan's potential, Trey Burke this, NBA-level forwards that, I say...No. I've got a late season swoon and a youthful team as my proof of how this team will do. So I've got VCU over Michigan, sadly.

WISCONSIN: (Predicted Finish: Sweet 16)

I've been picking Wisconsin to be upset for years in the NCAA Tourney, inevitably, I am wrong. Wisconsin plays a nasty form of basketball which somehow works (see: B1G Tourney). We sat there in Row 212 as the Badgers methodically knocked off teams with more talent. So I see the Badgers plodding their way into a Gonzaga matchup, where the talent disparity will eventually down Bo Ryan's squad. But kudos to Wisconsin -

ILLINOIS: (Predicted Finish: Round of 64)

I have little faith in the Illini; too many lackadaisical possessions ending in hurried 3's. Tell me: What does this Illini team do well enough to warrant me picking them to advance?

MINNESOTA: (Predicted Finish: Round of 32)

I don't like UCLA right now, only because of the Jordan Adams injury. I like Jordan Adams a lot. So I'll give the Gophers a boost here, maybe they can channel that "Indiana upset" magic we saw earlier in the year. The talent is there, right? (ed. question: Do you put Williams on Shabazz Muhammed? Fun matchup there)...

Think Graham's Wrong? Join the OTE Bracket Challenge!

Site: Yahoo! Tourney Pick'Em

Group: OTE Bracket Challenge

Password: sherman

Here's your link to the group and a link to the initial OTE post to discuss your picks!