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Purdue used its efficient offense to power past Western Illinois 81-67 on Wednesday at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette in the College Basketball Invitational.
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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.
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.
Tom Crean and the Hoosiers didn’t get the No. 1 spot in the Midwest—and the chance to play the second weekend of the tourney in Indianapolis that came along with it–but they are No. 1 in the East and open in nearby Dayton, Ohio. All in all, it’s not a terrible draw, especially when one looks at the loaded field in the Midwest. However, Indiana is only 3-3 in its last six games.
Illinois is a tough team to read. On any given night, John Groce’s club is capable of beating any team, evidenced by signature wins over Butler, Gonzaga, Indiana and Ohio State. Then, on other nights, they look like they can lose to just about any team. Which Illinois team will show up when the tourney tips off? That’s the question.
The Buckeyes are one of the hottest teams in the nation, winning eight in a row en route to capturing the Big Ten tourney title.