Seven Big Ten Teams make the Dance; Who will go the furthest

Posted: March 16, 2011 by Austin Bramley in Illinois Basketball, Ohio State Basketball, Penn State Basketball, Purdue Basketball, Spartan Basketball, Wisconsin Basketball

Eric Doughan, a journalism student at the University of Iowa recently joined our staff. Due to technical difficulties  we could  not get him registered as a contributor at the moment. This is piece is written by Eric Doughan.

The Big Ten got 7 teams into the field of 64, or 68, or whatever you want to call it now. Ohio State was deservedly awarded the number one overall seed in the big dance. Purdue, Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan St., Illinois, and Penn State also got invitations to the tourney as well. How far can these Big Ten teams go in the NCAA tournament? Lets take a look at each teams first round matchup and possible matchups in later rounds.

#1 Ohio State v. #16 UTSA/Alabama St.: I’m going out on a limb here by picking Ohio State to blow out whoever wins one of the four play-in games. The real tests lie in the later rounds for the Buckeyes with possible matchups against Villanova or uber-Cinderella George Mason in round 2. A possible showdown with Harrison Barnes and UNC could pit the nation’s top two recruits against each other with a trip to the final four on the line. Ohio State is the most well rounded team in the country being able to play inside and out. Jared Sullinger is poised to lead the Buckeyes to the Final Four and possibly a national title.

#8 Michigan v. #9 Tennessee: Michigan made it to the Big Ten semifinals before losing to Ohio State, but the Wolverines did enough to get into the field. The 8-9 matchups are always close calls and these two teams are evenly matched. Michigan needs good guard play from Darius Morris and Tim Hardaway Jr. and I think they will get it against the Vols. Unfortunately the Wolverines run will come to an end in round two when they will face defending National Champions Duke.

#7 Temple v. #10 Penn State: Penn St. made a run to the Big Ten Final to get into the field of 68. Whether they deserve it or not is another question. Taylor Battle will lead the Nittany Lions and Penn St. will live and die by how well Battle plays. Temple may not play in a powerhouse conference like the Big Ten, but they are still a quality squad. In the end, Temple will be too much for Penn State and the Owls will expose Penn State as the bubble team who probably should not have made the tournament.

#8 UNLV v. #9 Illinois: The Fighting Illini are the strangest team in the Big Ten. They have the talent both inside and out to play with anyone in the country, but they are just so inconsistent. Their collapse against Michigan in the Big Ten tourney didn’t do that reputation any favors. This is the second 8-9 matchup featuring a Big Ten team and is another toss up. I am going to give Illinois the benefit of the doubt and pick them to beat UNLV in round 2 in a very close game. In the NCAA tournament the team with the best player on the court sometimes determines the winner. Demetri McCamey is the best player on the court against UNLV, but the Illini fall against Kansas (and former coach Bill Self) in round 2.

#3 Purdue v. #14 St. Peter’s: This is one of the easier picks to make not involving a number one seed. Purdue has a playmaker at guard in E’Twaun Moore and a big man who can score in JaJuan Johnson. The Boilermakers are poised for a run deep into the tourney. Moore and Johnson will lead Purdue to the Elite 8, but will eventually fall to Kansas.

#4 Wisconsin v. #13 Belmont: Wisconsin is coming off a BAD loss to Penn St. where they only scored 33 points. The good news for Wisconsin is that they only gave up 36 in that loss. The Badgers will put that loss behind them and beat Belmont simply off of having more talented basketball players. Jordan Taylor can score, as he showcased against Ohio State earlier in the year. A scoring guard can carry you in the tournament, and the Badgers are hoping for that to happen. The downside is that they will run into another scoring guard in round two in Jacob Pullen of Kansas State who will send the Badgers home earlier than expected.

#7 UCLA v. #10 Michigan State: The preseason #2 Spartans stumbled through a very difficult schedule. The dismissal of Korie Lucious didn’t help either. If there is one thing going for Sparty it’s Tom Izzo. I have learned to not doubt Izzo led teams in the tournament. This season is no different. With Kalin Lucas looking better and better each game after recovering from his achilles injury, the Spartans can go deep in the tournament. They will beat UCLA and upset an overseeded Florida team in round 3. The Spartans will make another Elite 8 performance against Pittsburgh where Tom Izzo will deny Jamie Dixon another shot at a Final Four appearance. March Madness just isn’t the same without the Spartans surprising everyone and showing up in the Final Four.

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