Despite Run Up The Score's prediction, Penn State did not get selected to the NCAA Tournament. I know I know. I'm just as shocked as you are. But let's not get all manic depressive about it. I, for one, will be cheering on our fellow Big Ten teams as they try to bring a National Title back to the conference. Let's look at who got selected and what their chances look like in the NCAA tournament bracket.
Ohio State - #1 South
The Buckeyes drew the number one seed in the South bracket while Florida got the number one seed in the Midwest. Someone explain that one to me. I'm sure Buckeye fans aren't crying about it though since they will only have to travel a couple hours to see their team play in Lexington, KY which sure beats having to go to New Orleans. Ohio State seems to have a pretty easy path to at least the sweet sixteen where they will most likely play the winner of the Tennessee and Virginia game.
I think that will be the end for the Buckeyes though. They have a lot of young players and experience is key in the tournament. Plus they tended to play down to the level of the competition at times this year. That kills you in the tournament. I don't see the Buckeyes making the final four.
Wisconsin - #2 MidWest
The Badgers get a pretty nice draw in my opinion. In the second round they get either a senior laden but tournament inexperienced UNLV squad or they get a Georgia Tech team with a lot of freshmen. I think their solid defense and steady play will land them in the elite eight, but that's where they meet Florida and ride ends.
Purdue - #9 Midwest
After the top two, the Big Ten didn't get much respect in the bracket. Purdue gets a tough draw in the first round with #8 Arizona. They are pretty deep and have a bunch of guys who can score, but they only beat two ranked opponents all year. Get past them and it's Florida. Gulp. Well, at least you made it, Boilermakers.
Indiana - #7 West
Indiana gets a tough first round draw with the always scrappy and unpredictable Gonzaga. I'm not sure they are going to get past the inside-outside combination of Heytvelt and Raivio. Even if they do, UCLA awaits in round two. I think the Hoosiers are going home early.
Illinois - #12 West
The Fighting Illini were the last Big Ten team to sneak into the tournament after their impressive showing in the Big Ten Tournament. Their reward? A Virginia Tech team that beat Duke, Maryland, and North Carolina (twice) this year. I don't think Illinois has the athletes to keep up with the Hokies in this one.
Michigan State - #9 East
The Spartans get plopped right in the middle of the tough Eastern Bracket with teams like North Carolina, Texas, USC, and Georgetown. I can't see them getting very far. Heck, their first game is against Marquette, a team that went 10-6 in the Big East which sends a whopping six teams to the Dance this year.
Wrap It Up, Would Ya?
Despite criticism of it being a down year for the Big Ten, we still managed to land six teams in the tournament which is good. Michigan and Iowa will most likely go off to play in the NIT. It seems our best hopes in the tournament lie with Wisconsin and Ohio State. Like I said, I'm not confident the Buckeyes can play consistent enough to go deep in the tournament. They are my pick to get upset, but I think they'll make the sweet sixteen. I think Wisconsin will surprise some people and advance pretty far based on experience and an easier bracket.
What do you think?