On the eve of the NCAA tournament, hope spring eternal for every team. Get hot, rip off six victories in a row, and you will be national champion.
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As we sit on the cusp of postseason play for nine Big Ten teams, it feels an appropriate time to revisit where we were just four short months ago, previewing a season that was about to unfold before us. Did we nail it, or do we need to turn in our Geek cards?
Bracket makers didn’t do Michigan State any favors, putting it in the Midwest Region—which most experts feel is the toughest with No. 1 overall seed Louisville sitting atop it. That said, the Spartans get to play the first weekend in Auburn Hills, Mich., and if they advance to the second weekend, they play in Indianapolis.
Seven Big Ten teams made the NCAA tournament, and now it’s time to look at one key player from each team who could help fuel a tourney run. I’m not talking about the obvious stars, such as Trey Burke, Deshaun Thomas or Cody Zeller, here. Instead, these are guys who either have struggled lately or have heated up down the stretch.
Ohio State won the Big Ten Tournament this weekend, the fourth time that Thad Matta’s team has taken home the crown. While the Buckeyes won largely on the strength of its defense—holding Wisconsin to under 0.8 points per possession—this Ohio State team has been offensively excellent over the back half of its Big Ten schedule:
The NCAA bracket features seven Big Ten teams and that’s no shock to anyone following the conference. And the Big Ten’s power was reflected in four teams being seeded No. 4 or higher—No. 1 Indiana; No. 2 Ohio State; No. 3 Michigan State; No. 4 Michigan. Wisconsin just missed as a No. 5 seed.
Indiana and Wisconsin tipped things off on Saturday in a back-and-forth affair that did not go according to script. For one, Indiana was supposed to be the athletic offensive rebounding powerhouse, but it was Wisconsin that was crashing the offensive glass early, collecting 43 percent of its misses in the first half.