Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, March 8, 2016
The Big Ten tourney tips off at 4:30 p.m. ET Wednesday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
That being the case, let's take a look at the Big Ten tourney, A-Z.
A is for anything, as in anything is possible in March. And, that?s what makes it the most wonderful time of the year. This looks like a wide-open Big Ten tourney. Michigan State? Indiana? Maryland? Wisconsin? Purdue? Iowa? They all could win this thing.
B is for Buckeyes, the team that has won the most Big Ten tourney titles with five. It may take a miracle to add to the trophy case this year, however.
C is for champion, as in national champ. The last time the Big Ten won it all was 2000, when Michigan State beat Florida in Indianapolis. Will that script be flipped? Finally?
D is for double-digit, as only two times has a double-digit seed reached the title game. Illinois made it as a No. 11 in 1999 and a No. 10 in 2008-and lost both times.
E is for excellent, as in excellent guard play. Without it, no team has a shot to win big in March. Indiana?s Yogi Ferrell, Iowa's Mike Gesell, Maryland?s Melo Trimble, Michigan?s Derrick Walton Jr., Northwestern's Bryant McIntosh and Wisconsin?s Bronson Koenig are some of the league?s best lead guards.
F is for Final Four, as in the Big Ten has had at least one team in each of the last four Final Fours. It had two last year (Wisconsin and Michigan State).
G is for Gard, as in Greg Gard, Wisconsin?s newly minted full-time head coach. The guy is good. In fact, he may have merited Big Ten Coach of the Year accolades.
H is for hot, as in no team enters the Big Ten tourney hotter than Michigan State, which has won 10 of its last 11 games.
I is for Izzo, as in Michigan State?s Tom Izzo, who has won more Big Ten tourney games than anyone. He is 24-14.
J is for just, as in just one Big Ten that has competed in all 18 tourneys has failed to reach the title game. And that?s Northwestern.
K is for Knight, as in Bobby Knight ? the General. He never won the Big Ten tourney. In fact, the Hoosiers never have won this tourney and reached the title game only one time: losing to Iowa in 2001.
L is for long range, as in 3-point shooting. No one in America is better at it than Michigan State?s Bryn Forbes, who hits 50.5 percent from the arc (104-of-206). He hit a league single-game record 11 last week at Rutgers.
M is for Michigan, which needs to win a game or two to earn a ticket to the Big Dance. This team is squarely on the bubble and has the most on the line in Indianapolis.
N is for Northwestern, which will need to win the Big Ten tourney to earn its first NCAA bid. At the least, this looks like an NIT team ? maybe.
O is for Ohio State, which despite having 11 Big ten wins still probably won?t make the Big Dance as an at-large team.
P is for Purdue, which hasn?t won the league tourney since 2009-the only time it has done so. The Boilermakers reached the title game in the inaugural Big Ten tourney, losing to Michigan.
Q is for quality, as in quality freshmen. The Big Ten will have several on display in Nap Town, including Maryland?s Diamond Stone, Indiana?s Thomas Bryant, Michigan State?s Deyonta Davis, Purdue?s Caleb Swanigan and Wisconsin?s Ethan Happ-who won Freshman of the Year honors. Who saw that coming back in October?
R is for repeat, as only Michigan State (1999 and 2000) and Ohio State (2007 and 2008) have won back-to-back titles. Wisconsin won last year. Can it make it two in a row?
S is for six, which is the lowest-seed ever to win the tourney, as Iowa did so in 2001.
T is for 10, the number of times the Big Ten tourney has been held in Indianapolis, the home away from home for the conference.
U is for Uthoff, as in Iowa?s Jarrod Uthoff, the school?s first All-American of any kind since 1997.
V is for Valentine, as in Michigan State?s Denzel Valentine. Is there a better player in the Big Ten? Nope. He was named USA Today National Player of the Year this week. Kudos.
W is for Washington, as in Washington, D.C., which is where the Big Ten tourney will be held next year.
X is for X-factor, which is what Nigel Hayes is for Wisconsin. If he is playing well, the Badgers could march to a second straight Big Ten tourney title.
Y is for Yogi, as in Hoosier point man Yogi Ferrell. He has cemented himself a place among the legends that have worn the candy cane-striped pants.
Z is Zeisloft, as in Nick Zeisloft, a three-point sharpshooter from the Hoosiers who makes IU deadly when he?s hitting from long range.
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