In honor of us taking the Big Ten Tournament to New York, we here at OTE thought a good old fashioned Midwestern potluck was in order. Of course, we wouldn’t want to leave our East Coast brethren out, so we’ll be talking New York cuisine this week. First up, the New York Bagel, which is apparently not the same as a Montreal bagel, so keep that in mind.
For many years, the New York bagel industry was tightly controlled by the local bagel union, until automation expanded the opportunities to other bakers in the area. Now, New York City is famous for its bagels, but with so many options in the city, finding just one place to go would be difficult. For those making the trip to the Big Apple, Thrillist Magazine created a list of “The Absolute Best Bagel Shops in NYC”, which is far more likely to give you an idea of what bagels should be like and where to get them than anything else I can offer, having never made the trip myself.
But enough about the bagel; you’re (ostensibly) here for basketball talk. I posed five questions to our crack OTE writing staff, and each day this week you’ll be getting their answers [note: many of them were written before the season officially ended, so some of them reference games that have since been played]. First up:
Let’s be honest; this season and the schedule that caused it have been a bit of a mess. But here we are, with the BTT just around the corner, and in theory everyone still has a chance to win it all. How are you feeling about your team’s chances this week?
WSR: I believe Minnesota has Schroedinger’s Tourney Hopes, where they’re both alive and dead at the same time. As long as there’s still time on the clock we technically have a chance to win, but only in the strictest literal sense.
Graham: Michigan seems to have what they want (a locked-in NCAA bid), so the urgency of last year’s run will be lessened. That said. Winning the BTT again would push the Wolverines into three seed territory, thanks to a (potential) 8 or 9 game win streak. So. Beilein has built a team that has all kinds potential to beat any team on any given night. This team can also shorten games to minimize talent deficits. Let the games begin!
BRT: I don’t see the Huskers winning it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they won a game. If they stay at #4, their second game would be against #1, and that’s tough sledding. But, they’ve got little to lose and lots to gain, so who knows? I’ve enjoyed watching this team, and would love to see them continue to surprise people as they have all season.
BMan31: Purdue definitely has a chance as long as Vince Edwards is back. As the 3-seed, the opening game should be a favorable matchup against a team already on their 3rd game or a team they’ve already beaten. Depth at the 4 will be the biggest concern.
Andrew K: Good enough, and getting shots at a revenge tour against Michigan and OSU would be a nice side benefit to the way the bracket is lining up. MSU is unlikely to be a 1-seed even if they win the BTT, so I suppose it doesn’t make a difference, but this team should be grabbing more hardware than just the regular season title. Get this title and put Izzo alone on top with 6.
JC: Nebraska is not winning this tournament because we still have no inside presence, but this is literally the best I’ve felt since we joined the Big Ten so that’s something? BRT went out on a limb and picked us to win 7 conference games. I hedged a lot and said that if the pieces panned out, this could be a special team. No one saw this season playing out the way it did and while a lot of the hype died down during the Illinois loss, I still like where we are at. Going to be fun in the Garden. Or like, hopefully fun. Can’t wait to become New York’s favorite Big Ten team when we upset our way to the finals.
Aaron Yorke: Not great. After Penn State put itself in great position to qualify for the NCAA Tournament with a second win against Ohio State, the Nittany Lions dropped their last three to Purdue, Michigan, and Nebraska. That’s some pretty stiff competition, but the losing streak doesn’t inspire any confidence that Penn State can go on the run that it needs in order to sneak into the field of 68. The loss to Nebraska on Sunday means that the Lions will have to win three games in Manhattan just to get back into the bubble conversation. A win against slumping Northwestern is probable, but taking down the Buckeyes for a third time in the quarterfinals is going to be tough.
MNW: I feel it’ll be a nice chance for introspection for Jim Phillips, Northwestern AD. As he looks around New York City, thinking “Wow, it’s really fucking stupid that the Big Ten is trying to claim this nearby metropolis over which it has little historic or demographic presence,” maybe, just maybe, he’ll put it all together.
But yeah, Penn State by 25. This season’s done.
Creighton M: So here’s the thing: Iowa hasn’t won a game in the BTT since 2013. Even in years where Fran McCaffery has had good teams, this tournament has been his white whale. I fully expect Iowa to get bounced by Illinois because the only thing consistent about Iowa basketball this year is that they lose. I suppose there’s a small chance that Illinois will manage to play even worse than Iowa but even then, Michigan is right there waiting. One way or another Iowa’s season will be over before the end of the work day on Thursday. This entire year has been a big, dumb disappointment and part of me is eager for the Illini to take it out back with Old Yeller where it belongs.
Candystripes: So somehow, Indiana earned the 6th seed in the Big Ten Tournament with a .500 conference record. That right there should be a sign that the conference as a whole did not have a good year, as Indiana was not a good team most of the time. Now, to answer my own question: I feel like Indiana really needs two wins this weekend to maybe sneak into NIT consideration, and most likely, they’ll either get 0 or 1. It would take an improbable upset to get 2, and I don’t even need to consider the odds of IU winning the Big Ten Tourney (their only chance to make the NCAAs) because they’ve never done so, and this really doesn’t look like the team to do it first.
Beez: Lol Wisconsin isn’t winning. Going 3-1 to end the season, with the 1 being a far-closer-than-I-expected loss to the #1 team in the country (by the time the new poll comes out?!?) was enjoyable and all, but the 20-year streak ends in the BTT. The “impressive” end to the season means Wisconsin’s absolutely either (a) losing in the first game of the BTT, or (b) winning just enough games (making the semis, maybe?) to make us Wisconsin fans think OH SHIT IS THIS REALLY GOING TO H— just as they lose by 30.