Purdue entered the NCAA tourney as a hot team, winners of six of seven before losing a hard-fought Big Ten title game to Michigan State.
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There are seven Big Ten teams in the NCAA tourney. Michigan is the first to take the plunge, tipping off tonight in a First Four in clash with fellow No. 11 seed Tulsa. What is the best-case scenario in the Big Dance for the Wolverines? I tell you that, as well as my best-case scenario for each Big Ten squad in the NCAA tourney.
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The Boilermakers have proven they are capable of beating just about any team … and also struggling against just about any team. Big Ten title dreams danced in the heads of Purdue fans in October. But, that didn’t materialize. Still, the goal of reaching the Final Four remains alive. Is it possible? Maybe. This is a big, tough physical squad anchored by a fleet of what the late Al McGuire used to like to call “aircraft carriers” in 7-0 A.J. Hammons, 6-9 Caleb Swanigan and 7-2 monster Isaac Haas. No school can match this tall trio of terror.
The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament bracket is set. Let the madness begin, as the Big Ten looks to win its first national title since Michigan State cut down the nets in 2000. Seven Big Ten teams made the field: Michigan State, Purdue, Maryland, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan. Who has the toughest potential path? Who has the easiest potential path?
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The only time Michigan State and Purdue faced off this season, we witnessed an instant classic as Purdue won the hard-fought overtime thriller, 82-81. Purdue snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Spartans and proved to themselves that they could compete with anyone in the country. Michigan State gets a much wanted revenge game today with the Big Ten Tournament Championship on the line.
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Purdue’s Raphael Davis and Michigan State’s Matt Costello and Bryn Forbes. When I sit down to watch today’s Big Ten tournament championship game, those are the three players I’ll be watching very closely. Let me tell you why.