The Big Ten got an astonishing NINE teams into the tournament. Wisconsin, Michigan, and Illinois got great draws. Past that Iowa looks setup well to make their first Sweet 16 under Fran.
That’s where the good news ends. Thoughts below:
Before we get into specific teams and matchups, general thoughts on the job the committee did this year:
BoilerUp89: 0/10, did not include IUPUI - the greatest team in Indiana south of the 40th latitude line. Also, they played matchup story lines as usual and Purdue & MSU got pretty well screwed over in regards to that.
Green Akers: I agree that you couldn’t draw up a much more heartburn-inducing first weekend for MSU than this, but I also won’t pretend this team deserved much better. And yeah, I’ll say it: Michigan should have been, at best, on the play-in line, if not out of the field altogether. 5-10 in Q1 isn’t a better record than Texas A&M, for example.
MNW: Just tell us that the conference tournaments don’t matter, huh?
To the Big Ten: if they’re going to kind of fuck around with this, why not move the Big Ten Tournament up a day or two? Give the winner a chance to move up?
Since this is a B1G blog, we will start off with reactions to the B1G teams. Tell us your thoughts on your teams’ matchups and how your team was totally screwed over with their bracket:
No. 3 Wisconsin Badgers vs. No. 14 Colgate Raiders
Kind of...: Seth Davis just put UW in the Elite Eight, so Colgate is going to pull the 3/14 upset.
MNW: It’d be a damn shame if that happened, wouldn’t it?
BoilerUp89: Wisconsin got a pretty nice draw all things considered. Colgate, winner of a coach-less LSU/losing conference record Iowa State - both games in Milwaukee. Anything less than a Sweet 16 would be a major disappointment. Then they have the short trip down to Chicago for the next two games and while Auburn and Kansas are difficult matchups, it can be a lot worse for Sweet 16 and Elite 8 matchups.
BuffKomodo: Playing toothpaste is probably harder than we imagine it will be. Playing toothpaste in your backyard should make it a little easier. To echo BU, anything less than a Sweet 16 birth here for Wisconsin would be a slap in the face.
No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers vs. No. 14 Yale Bulldogs
BoilerUp89: Fuck you committee! Just fuck you! Giving us Chris Beard as our potential 2nd round matchup. You guys are assholes. Out of all the 5s, 6s, and 7s the only one I didn’t want to face was Texas. And if by some miracle Virginia Tech wins the first round matchup, the Hokies just won the ACC tournament.
The only good news is that I was optimistic for last year’s first round game and we all know how that turned out so hopefully I’m wrong for a 2nd consecutive year. I doubt it.
As for Yale, they played 4 games against tournament teams all year: Seton Hall, Vermont, Auburn, and Saint Mary’s. They lost those games by 36, 8, 22, and 27. Long time Yale coach James Jones (21 seasons) has pulled off a first round upset before, but he did that as a 12 seed.
BuffKomodo: I’m genuinely giddy to watch Purdue possibly play Kentucky, and if you must know I’ll root for Purdue if all parties make it to that game. I’d rather play Texas than Virginia Tech at the moment, so that feels like a dangerous game for the Boilers in round 2.
MNW: It’s just a shame Purdue won’t make it past Texas. Or Virginia Tech.
No. 4 Illinois Fighting Illini vs. No. 13 Chattanooga Moceroos
Stew: Illinois at 4?!?
BoilerUp89: Illinois should have been a 3 seed IMO (and stew clearly agreed), but I don’t hate their path to the Sweet 16. Chattanooga could be somewhat tricky as both Malachi Smith and David Jean-Baptiste can fill it up from 3 point range, but Houston as their 5 seed is nice since Houston hasn’t looked the same post injuries and the American was awful this year. In fact, I’m probably picking UAB to be that 2nd round opponent if the Illini can make it past the Mocs.
That’s where the good news ends though as Arizona looks scary good. They are one of the few teams that I think can matchup with Cockburn straight up.
MNW: Houston isn’t the strongest 5-seed ever, but they’re the kind of team that can mix and muddy a game up to the point that they’ll win 54-47. I watched them play some truly reprehensible basketball against Temple a couple weeks ago, and there’s some ugly shooting to be had.
Thumpasaurus: BoilerUp is exactly right. How do I know they can match up with Kofi? Because they literally did. Kofi was limited to 13 points on 5 of 15 shooting, turning it over 5 times. He still grabbed 13 boards, but it wasn’t until Illinois stopped trying to go his way that they were able to claw back into the game. They had a chance to tie...until Plummer got a 5 second call.
Not a fan of having Houston in the 5 spot, I guess they must have gotten the 5 seed through injuries that are season ending at this point. I don’t think we’re going to have Jake Grandison back unless we make the Sweet 16, which is something I’ve never seen happen.
I’m also not sure why Wisconsin is a 3 and we’re a 4 if we were a 3 and Wisconsin was a 4 back in February according to the actual committee themselves. By NET, our resume is better since then. I guess it matters that they got to the 15 B1G wins first and that they lost in the BTT after we did by virtue of playing later. Or maybe the committee preview is meaningless.
Anyway, a tip of the cap for the Chattanooga prank. I see what you did there (1997 round 2 losing to the 14-seeded Mocs).
No. 5 Iowa Hawkeyes vs. No. 12 Richmond Spiders
stew: I somehow fear Richmond more than providence
BoilerUp89: Richmond is hot and filled with seniors and juniors on their roster. Out of their top 9 guys: 6 are seniors, 2 are juniors and 1 is a sophomore. Stew is probably right to fear them despite their lack of a great overall resume. Iowa is playing so well right now though that unless they go cold from 3 I like their chances to get past the Spiders.
In the possible 2nd round matchups, Providence and South Dakota State are both really well coached but neither are going to pose huge size issues for Iowa. Neither will Kansas for that matter. Before the bracket was revealed, Kansas was probably going to be my pick to win it all (and they still might be). But they aren’t a great rebounding team so if that matchup happens, Iowa would have a shot.
MNW: I’m curious to see the Prov and South Dakota State game—Iowa-Richmond is...whatever, I guess. The Hawks should have enough speed and enough Keegan Murray to see off the Spiders, but if there’s a Hawkeyes-Jackrabbits second round, that’ll be a helluva matchup.
Thumpasaurus: I remember the last time a B1G team has gotten hotter than hell down the stretch on the back of an inside-out scorer with good size and athleticism that’s first team all-B1G, then won the whole Big Ten tournament and been picked to go super far in the tourney.
No. 7 Michigan State Spartans vs. No. 10 Davidson Wildcats
Green Akers: Oh fuck me. Anybody happen to know where MSU reject Foster Loyer tore it up this season? There is no way Loyer scores less than 25 in this game.
And yes, he’s defensively powerless, so if Tyson Walker decides to shoot the ball that would be a nice matchup but that’s happened like three times all season. Loyer will flop and draw a bad charge call on Hoggard at a critical moment, mark my words.
I’m trying to talk myself into a debate over whether it will hurt worse to get eliminated by Foster Fucking Loyer or take yet another L from Coach K in his last run but it’s not close. Loyer’s going to light us on fire and Indiana’s deep state operation in planting Dane Fife on Izzo’s staff to convince Tom to recruit Loyer, have him suck for three years, and then defect and just gut us like a catfish in the tournament will come full circle.
Or, y’know, MSU’s athleticism edge gets them past the first game so we can get that Joey Hauser on Mark Williams matchup Izzo’s been preparing for by playing Hauser in big moments all season. So it’s either lose to the kid we took too early who never hit puberty, or take one more posterization from Coach K, who already gets every call he wants, AND IS COACHING IN HIS LAST TOURNAMENT. Can’t wait.
BoilerUp89: The only Big Ten team that may have gotten screwed harder than Purdue this year with their bracket, Michigan State draws a matchup against a solid A10 led in part by a former MSU player. And of course, the coach K retirement waltz thru the tournament awaits them in round 2. It’s a pretty bullshit draw, but MSU is a 7 seed.
MNW: Either it ends in the first round or it ends in the second round. No sense getting upset.
No. 7 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. No. 10 Loyola-Chicago Ramblers
BoilerUp89: Thumpasaurus is of course thrilled that Illinois isn’t facing Loyola, but I don’t think they are nearly as good as they were last year. Villanova, Tennessee, Colorado State, and Michigan are also all decent teams but none of them are unbeatable.
Anything from a first round blowout loss to a surprisingly Elite 8 run wouldn’t surprise me here. I’m not a believer in Ohio State this year, but again their bracket is probably the best case scenario for a 7 seed outside of maybe the Midwest.
No. 11 Michigan Wolverines vs. No. 6 Colorado State Rams
stew: Gift of a draw for Michigan
BoilerUp89: Michigan is much more talented than Colorado State. Colorado State is much better coached than Michigan. So... I don’t know. I am excited to see what Medved does in his first NCAA tournament appearance as a head coach.
MNW: I want to see David Roddy beat the tar outta the Michigan front line. That would be a lot of fun.
Then I hope Northwestern backs up the truck for Medved.
None of this will happen, and now I hate March Madness.
BoilerUp89: Medved signed a big extension.
Brian: All things considered, Michigan was dealt a pretty good hand.
A week ago, after winning three of its final five regular season games (against tournament teams Rutgers, Michigan State and Ohio State) the prevailing wisdom was that the Wolverines had done enough to punch their ticket to the big dance. After bowing out in its first game in the Big Ten tournament, however, Michigan’s postseason fate seemed less certain. Many pundits and bracketologists had the Wolverines in one of next week’s play-in games. Or worse.
That being the case, Selection Sunday had all the makings of a nail-biter in Ann Arbor. Michigan didn’t have to wait long to hear its name called, though. As the #11 seed in the South region, Michigan has a first-round date against Colorado State with #3 seed Tennessee waiting in the wings. Not a cakewalk, but not murderer’s row, either.
Michigan won’t be favored by many to do so, but it at least has a punchers chance of reaching the Sweet Sixteen.
No. 12 Indiana Hoosiers vs. 12 Wyoming Cowboys
BuffKomodo: Oh thank god.
BoilerUp89: I second Buff’s thoughts on Wyoming making the tournament. The Cowboys had their best season since 2002 (although they have won the Mountain West tournament once in the 20 years since then) and were well deserving of getting a bid this year.
I think the committee screwed up putting Indiana in the Tuesday game in Dayton though. Had they put them on Wednesday, they might have gotten Indiana/Notre Dame fans to show up in Dayton for both games.
As it is, the will show up for their basketball team on day 1 and then either travel to the Thursday site or go home depressed. I really have no idea which Indiana team will show up either. The one that limped into the end of the regular season? Or the one that played really well in BTT.
MNW: I really would’ve enjoyed seeing what Indiana would’ve done in the NIT. Instead, uh, this.
Thumpasaurus: Selection committee showing incredible restraint by not putting Houston as the 5 seed facing the winner of this matchup. You know they desperately wanted that Sampson matchup to happen, but I guess that would have been too obvious.
No. 11 Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. No. 11 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
BoilerUp89: Speaking of Notre Dame, Rutgers should run them off the court. This is a Rutgers team that beat Purdue, Michigan, Iowa, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana. Notre Dame beat Kentucky, North Carolina, and Miami (FL) and lost the rest of their games against teams with a pulse.
RU in VA: Well, hopefully Rutgers can carry the water and bury the Domers. That will lead into the weirdest matchup of the tournament, Alabama. I guess we’ll take a look at that if they get there. The only thing consistent about the Knights is that they’re inconsistent.
Not In Tournament: Penn State Nittany Lions, Northwestern Wildcats, Maryland Terrapins, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Minnesota Golden Gophers
BoilerUp89: Rank Penn State, you cowards!
MNW: Please just put me out of my misery.
Who got snubbed and left out of the bracket unfairly?
Kind of...: The more I think about it, the more pissed I am ND got in over A&M
Green Akers: Yeah that’s some shit
Kind of...: A&M beat ND H2H on neutral court. Just beat Auburn and Arkansas.
BoilerUp89: Texas A&M. That’s it. They should have been in over Notre Dame. But the ACC somehow got 5 teams and a 2 seed despite being terrible all season.
MNW: Yeah, A&M is proof those conference tournaments really don’t matter. That’s a bummer for the Aggies, but also...whatever. Sorry to the Sweaty Potato and his cultists.
I could’ve personally done with Dayton over Indiana OR Rutgers, for what that’s worth. The Flyers have a couple Q3 and Q4 losses, too, while they beat teams I actually respect, too.
Who got in that doesn’t deserve to be in? Bonus points if you mention the team you are scheduled to face.
BoilerUp89: Notre Dame. Most of the other writers agreed with me, but I’m tired of copying/pasting their comments from the writer’s slack.
MNW: Not so fun, is it?
BoilerUp89: Mostly I’m just lazy MNW. You should know this by now.
Other interesting matchups you want to see:
BoilerUp89: UAB/Houston intrigues me a lot. As does Providence/South Dakota State.
MNW: Yeah, Jacks-Friars should be a blast. Marquette-North Carolina in R1 could be good for some scoring and general shenanigans, as should Murray State-San Francisco. The latter is especially exciting because it’ll mean a fun mid-major story actually makes it to the second round.
Any final thoughts and how far will a B1G team get this year?
Green Akers: What are we thinking, 3 of our teams make it to the S16?
BoilerUp89: well Purdue isn’t. Chris Beard is our kryptonite.
Green Akers: I’m thinking Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan unfortunately. Cannot believe a dubious inclusion gets such a cakewalk opening weekend.
Kind of...: If Illinois beats Chattanooga, I like their chances too. Houston is beat up.
MNW: Couple Sweet 16s, probably—off the cuff, I’d take Illinois and Wisconsin.
Thumpasaurus: Personally I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re all out by the end of the first weekend. I think Purdue can take Kentucky if VT can take care of Texas for them. I am not a huge believer in Providence to continue the magic much longer (as Big East Wisconsin), so I think Iowa’s going pretty far to be honest.