Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
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?
Many are picking the No. 11 seed Gophers to knock off No. 6 UCLA in the first round of their South Region clash. Yes, Minnesota is in a funk, losing three in a row and seven of 10. But this still is a talented, athletic and physical team that’s capable of big things with players like Andre Hollins, Austin Hollins, Rodney Williams and Trevor Mbakwe, among others.
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.
If it’s highlights you’re looking for, the Big Ten tourney was the place to be. From Brandon Paul’s buzzer-beater in Thursday’s opening round to Keith Appling’s drive and posterizing dunk on Friday, there was no shortage of highlight-reel plays. Watch some of our favorite Big Ten tourney plays from the first three days in this post.