Dienhart: My Big Ten NCAA tourney predictions

With the regular season finished and the NCAA tournament upon us, experts from across the nation are offering their predictions. It’s a fun time, no doubt, and I decided to offer a few predictions of my own. Check out what I see when I look into my crystal ball in this post.

[ MORE: View the official interactive NCAA bracket ]

Which teams will make it to the second weekend of the tourney?
Without a doubt, Michigan, Wisconsin and Michigan State should make plans to keep their suitcases packed. The No. 2 Wolverines will dump No. 15 Wofford and then knock off No. 7 Texas. The No. 2 Badgers will beat No. 15 American and then No. 10 BYU. No. 4 Michigan State will dump No. 13 Delaware and No. 12 Harvard. Everyone else will be back on campus by next weekend.

Will any Big Ten team be upset by a lower-seeded team in the opening weekend?
I think Iowa will lose to fellow No. 11 seed Tennessee in a first-round game on Wednesday. But I think every other Big Ten team will win its opening game. But they all won’t be so fortunate in the third round. I think No. 11 Nebraska will lose to No. 3 Creighton. And No. 6 Ohio State will fall to No. 3 Syracuse. The Buckeyes just don’t shoot well enough to take advantage of that Orange zone.

Any Big Ten teams primed to pull upsets?
Yes, but not until the second weekend. No. 4 Michigan State will take down No. 1 Virginia in the Sweet 16 and then No. 2 Villanova or No. 3 Iowa State in East Region final.

[ MORE: Polls: Vote for Round of 64 Big Ten winners ]

How many Big Ten teams will make it to the Final Four?
At least one. And that one figures to be Michigan State. And the Badgers may have a shot, too. Why? Each team looks to have a favorable region. Michigan? Not so much so, although it didn’t have a favorable draw last year and made it to the national final. Don’t sleep on Michigan. The No. 4 Spartans have perhaps the most favorable region, playing in the East with No. 1 Virginia, No. 2 Villanova and No. 3 Iowa State. That’s not much heavy lifting. Conversely, No. 2 Michigan is in a loaded Midwest with No. 1 Wichita State, No. 3 Duke, No. 4 Louisville and No. 8 Kentucky. No. 2 Wisconsin is in a West Region with No. 1 Arizona, No. 3 Creighton and No. 4 San Diego State. No too scary, huh?

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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Your Opinion?
Show Comments (7 Comments)
Craig on 3/19/2014 @ 9:01am EDT Said:

Agree with most of that, other than when MSU beats Virginia it won’t be an upset unless you are strictly speaking of how they are seeded.

Joe on 3/19/2014 @ 12:47pm EDT Said:

Kansas is the #2 in the South, not the Midwest.

Scott on 3/19/2014 @ 1:26pm EDT Said:

I too like Michigan State. But then again, I think that Ohio State has a real shot to beat Syracuse.

I’m hoping at least two B1G schools (yes, MSU and Wisconsin, most likely) to cut down nets in regionals. And while I’m hoping against hope that it’ll be MSU vs Wisconsin for the national championship, I’m picking the Spartans regardess as my title winners.

Go Green!

Willie Erves on 3/19/2014 @ 7:08pm EDT Said:

The Michigan basketball team needs to learn how to play defense first and learn how to block out on the boards and not let teams drive the line? Michigan has lost games this year after being up 17 points or more but can not play defense. Lost the biggest game of there life last year because they could not play defense. This coach we have needs to understand that you need both and not just one of them but he does not get it, He does not make adjustments and he try to run a zone that he him self does not understand and it shows He need someone that understands how to win games when it is close. Willie Erves

Josh on 3/20/2014 @ 1:45am EDT Said:

@Willie Erves

When has Michigan been up on opponents by 17 and more and lost? I will list their largest leads in each game they lost.

ISU – 9 points @ early 1st half
Charlotte – 5 @ opening minutes of game
Duke – never led
Arizona – 11 @ opening minutes of 2nd half
Indiana – 3 @ halfway of 1st half
Iowa – 2 @ first possession of game
Wisconsin – never led
MSU – 5 @ early 1st half

Therefore you are wrong. You are also wrong in that Michigan does not know how to win close games. They won ALL of their close games in B1G play (all their B1G losses were by double digits) and a slow start was the reason for the Duke, Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin losses. The zone has actually worked well and was the main reason Michigan won the outright B1G title. Sure Michigan is weak on interior defense, but that is something they have to outweigh with their strengths.

    Willie Erves on 3/20/2014 @ 10:38am EDT Said:

    Michigan is playing 6 on 4 because there is nothing coming from the center spot there are no plays for Morgan at all. And his not blocking out on the boards or going to the rim strong is hurting Mich? If Michigan don”t fix that there going out in the second round because a lack of defense Mich needs someone to bring defense to the table and learn them spacing and covering areas on the court with pressure and zone traps. Look at Duke and Florida?

Josh on 3/20/2014 @ 1:55am EDT Said:

@Willie Erves
You are probably thinking of the Detroit Pistons, I swear they have done that at least 20 times this season…