Let's see these NCAA games: IU-MSU, please

Technically, the NCAA tourney tipped off Tuesday night. But with a pair of Big Ten teams set to open the Big Dance on Thursday, it’s time to consider the best Big Ten NCAA matchups we may see in this year’s tourney.

See my top 10 potential battles in this post.

[ RELATED: View the NCAA tourney bracket (PDF) ]

1. Indiana vs. Michigan State
When: National title game
Why: Indiana swept the season series, however each game was terrific and came down to the wire, with the Hoosiers rallying in the last minute to win the second meeting in East Lansing. Also, it’s always entertaining to watch former coworkers and current friends Tom Izzo and Tom Crean match wits.

2. Michigan vs. Kansas
When: Sweet 16
Why: Trey Burke vs. Victor Oladipo was fun on both occasions, but when it comes to starpower this season, it might not get better than Burke vs. Ben McLemore. It’d also be fascinating to watch Burke and Michigan’s offense (48.4 percent; 9th in nation) go up against Jeff Withey and Kansas’ defense (36 percent; 1st in nation).

3. Indiana vs. Ohio State
When: National title game
Why: This one would pit the Big Ten regular-season champ vs. the Big Ten tourney champ. Also: The two teams split the season series, both winning on the other’s floor. In a year in which the Big Ten has been viewed as the nation’s best conference, there’s no better way to settle the score.

4. Michigan State vs. Duke
When: Sweet 16
Why: Other than Tom Izzo vs. Mike Krzyzewski? Or the fact Duke seems to be everyone’s favorite team to hate? How about this incredible collection/battle of big men: Duke’s Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee vs. Michigan State’s Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix? That would be fun to watch.

5. Michigan State vs. Louisville
When: Elite 8
Why: Louisville’s the tournament’s top overall seed, plus the Spartans would be facing the Cardinals with a Final Four berth on the line. Speaking of the Final Four, the victorious coach in this game would clinch his seventh career Final Four appearance. Yes, Tom Izzo and Rick Pitino both have an incredible six Final Fours.

6. Indiana vs. Syracuse
When: Sweet 16
Why: These two teams met in the 1987 national championship game, and it turned out to be quite the battle. While not a single Hoosier or Orange was born when Keith Smart hit the baseline jumper to lift Indiana to its fifth, and most recent, national title, it’s rematches like this possible one that make the tourney so great.

7. Michigan vs. VCU
When: Round of 32
Why: Not only is VCU a recent NCAA Cinderella, it runs a successful full-court press that would be a blast to watch implemented vs. Trey Burke, the nation’s top point guard. Considering the press is used following a basket – not to mention a dead ball – and Michigan’s forgiving defense, we’d see a lot of Burke and company trying to break the havoc.

8. Wisconsin vs. Gonzaga
When: Sweet 16
Why: We all know Wisconsin can beat any team put in front it, what with a pair of wins over East Region No. 1 Indiana and Michigan, in addition to a rout over Ohio State. The prospect of a No. 1 seed going down early isn’t the lone intriguing storyline here, however. There’s also Wisconsin’s physical, shutdown defense vs. Gonzaga’s humming offense (50.4% FG; 77.6 ppg).

9. Illinois vs. Kansas State
When: National title game
Why: It isn’t a likely matchup, admittedly, but the prospect of Bruce Weber facing the program that fired him a year earlier is something pretty special. Weber, of course, led Kansas State to a share of the Big 12 crown this season, while his old players, Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson, among others, suffered an up-and-down first season post-Weber.

10. Indiana vs. Florida
When: Final Four
Why: Only two teams score more points than Indiana (80 per game), and only two teams allow fewer points than Florida (53.7 per game). Something, as they say, has to give in this battle of impressive units. Would it be the strong offense or defense that wins out and leads one of these teams to the national title game?

About Brent Yarina BTN.com web editor Brent Yarina covers football and men’s basketball for BTN.com. He writes the popular uniform feature “Clothes Call,” which also focuses on the latest cosmetic changes across Big Ten arenas and stadiums. Read all of his work here. You can subscribe to Yarina’s RSS feed and follow him on Twitter @BTNBrentYarina.

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5 Comments

Your Opinion?
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Doug on 3/20/2013 @ 6:58pm EDT Said:

Nice list Brent, would love a third shot at IU !

Delmar Jones on 3/20/2013 @ 10:18pm EDT Said:

The only realistic possibility would be OhioState and Indiana and that would be interesting. You might say what about Wisconsin? I don’t believe they can get there and neither came M. State so yes the Buckeyes and the Hoosiers. GO BUCKS

Reality check on 3/20/2013 @ 10:53pm EDT Said:

You are not goin to get one Doug, Michigan will play IU in the ztitle game just like 1976
And you owe Jalen Rose a written apology I read that stuff on Couch

    Delmar Jones on 3/21/2013 @ 12:47pm EDT Said:

    Hey Reality check you need a reality check look at the bracket they can only meet in the final four.

xKiLLa SPaRTaN on 3/23/2013 @ 10:16am EDT Said:

I’m surprised you didn’t have Indiana vs Louisville. I think they’re the best two teams in the country. That would be a great match up.