Previewing the Big Ten Conference Tournament

Most conferences are wrapping up regular season play this week. The Big Ten, however, conference tournament action begins this week. 14 teams will try to punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament. If you’re Michigan State, Purdue Ohio State and Michigan, you don’t need to win the tournament to ensure your trip to the big dance. For anyone else, winning the conference tournament is pretty much the only way to guarantee a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Let’s break down the Big Ten tournament and see what to expect.

Bubble Teams

Nebraska and Penn State have some work to do if they want to hear their name called on Selection Sunday. The Cornhuskers are the 4th seed in the Big Ten tournament, and were in line with an NCAA bid, until they lost to Illinois ten days ago. Up until then, Nebraska had not had any bad in conference losses. The loss to Illinois, coupled with St. John’s and UCF, leaves Nebraska in need of some wins to make themselves feel more comfortable on Selection Sunday. They’ll have a chance to pick up a big win against Michigan, assuming the Wolverines can beat the winner of Iowa/Illinois.

For Penn State, they can hang their hat on a season sweep of Ohio State. Unfortunately, they have dropped three straight to end the regular season, moving them more off than on the bubble. If the Nittany Lions can beat Northwestern in their first game, they’ll have a chance for a third straight win against Ohio State. A win here would get them back in the discussion, but anything less will probably have them NIT bound.

Can Purdue Regain Form?

The Boilermakers looked like one of the best teams in college basketball for much of the regular season. They owned a 19 game winning streak, including wins over Arizona, Butler, Louisville and sweeps of Maryland and Michigan. Carson Edwards looked fantastic and Isaac Haas was superb in the middle. A three game losing streak, and uninspiring wins against Penn State and Illinois brought the perception of Purdue down a little bit. After such a good season, they amazingly enter the Big Ten tournament a bit under looked as the #3 seed. Can Purdue get back to their midseason form in time for the tournament?


The Big Ten had a down year this season. They didn’t get any help with Minnesota, Maryland and Northwestern not meeting preseason expectations, for various reasons. The top of the conference is strong though. All four tournament locks have a chance to make at least the Elite Eight, if not the Final Four. This could set up for a very entertaining semifinal and final.

There is potential for a Michigan vs Michigan State rematch. The Wolverines topped the Spartans at their place earlier in the year. Ordinarily you would expect a Tom Izzo coached club to get their revenge in March, but this has been such a dysfunctional year that I’m going to pick Michigan to win again. Michigan State looks to be clicking, so of course they’ll lose right before the tournament. That’s just how this season has gone.

The Wolverines I think will meet Purdue in the Big Ten final. I don’t think Indiana, Minnesota or Rutgers will pose much of a threat to Purdue, even though 2/3 of them played them tight this year. It will set up a great semifinal against Ohio State, and this time I expect Purdue to get their revenge on the Buckeyes. A last second put back by Keita Bates-Diop took down the red hot Boilermakers back in early February. I think Purdue takes care of business in the rematch.

And I’m going to predict Purdue to win. I’m buying “low” on this team right now. This was one of the hottest teams in college basketball at one point this year. A mediocre couple of weeks made a lot of people jump off the band wagon. I think Carson Edwards makes a name for himself at MSG and I think Purdue will be your Big Ten champions. Selection Sunday is ELEVEN days away. It’s starting to get real.

Major Changes on the Horizon in College Basketball

College basketball as we know it could soon be changing. What has been one of the crazier college hoops seasons in recent memory could quickly become overshadowed by an absolute bombshell of a FBI report. According to Yahoo Sports, material gained during this ongoing FBI investigation is so much it could “threaten the fundamental structure and integrity of the sport.” No one is sure how or when these findings will be released, but the teaser is alarming to say the least.

This just got much bigger than ten assistant coaches being arrested in late September. This is more than just a couple of players and schools being named in a few reports and wire taps. Remember the reaction when the Louisville news broke? Get ready to times it by one hundred. The FBI has over 4000 intercepted calls, in addition to bank records and other reports. And that’s just what we know.

We know they have information on top of information from Andy Miller, a former NBA agent. According to Yahoo’s Pete Thammel, the FBI has enough to potentially implicate 50 Division 1 programs. FIFTY. And no one appears to be above the law.

“Hall of Fame coaches should be scared, lottery picks won’t be eligible….”

Sunday night, CBS announced their top 16 seeds for the upcoming NCAA Tournament. A number of those teams and players appear to potentially fall on this list of schools that would be subject to penalty. Imagine seeing a Selection Sunday without some of the best teams in the sport? Imagine seeing coaches who have walked a school’s sidelines for years not be there anymore? This could be a reality soon.

It’s not like these reports were ever earth shattering news to hoops fans. Accusations and rumors circulate all the time when a program lands a big time recruit. Whether it’s from an inside source, or a bitter rival on a message board, people are fast to say a school cheated when they land a top prospect. The difference now is there is evidence to support these claims.

It’s almost ironic if you think about it. News of a scandal first broke in September. What followed was one of the most unpredictable college seasons ever. It’s been such a wild year that many people forgot about the scandal, or at least pushed deep into the back part of their brains. This week we were reminded though that this investigation never went away. It’s here, always has been. And it’s going to be big.

Enjoy the next three weeks of college basketball. It may never be the same.

ACC/Big Ten Challenge: Good News or ACC or Bad News For Big Ten

The ACC/Big Ten “Challenge” has been around for 10 years now. A non-conference event that matches up a Big Ten team against an ACC team so see which conference can take home the bragging rights. It’s a bit of a mismatch, as the ACC is typically the deepest conference in college basketball year in and year out. This year however was different. The ACC blew the doors off the Big Ten. This makes us wonder, is the ACC really that good? Or is the Big Ten worse than expected?

The ACC won the challenge 11-3, with the only wins coming from Nebraska, Purdue and Michigan State. Otherwise, it was not close. There were moral victories, sure. Indiana went toe-to-toe with Duke for 35 minutes. It showed us a much different team than the one that gone manhandled by Indiana State at the beginning of the year. However, there were not many other positives to take away from this challenge for the Big Ten.

Minnesota, a favorite in the conference, lost at home, albeit to a good Miami team. Michigan got pounded by a Tar Heel team that was embarrassed by Michigan State a few days prior. Shows the gap between those two rival schools. NCAA Tournament hopeful Northwestern lost to Georgia Tech at the buzzer. Wisconsin managed just 37 points against Virginia’s defense. And the list goes on.

Is the ACC Good? Is the Big Ten Bad?

Such a lopsided result poses the question: Is the ACC that good, or is the Big Ten that bad? We knew the Big Ten was top heavy. Michigan State is a title contender, and Purdue and Minnesota are expected tournament teams. Outside that though, there are major question marks that were not answered. Michigan did not look capable of competing with top teams, Northwestern suffered its third non-conference loss, and Illinois lost to a struggling Wake Forest team. There’s not much to take away.

Don’t get me wrong, the ACC is tough. Duke, UNC, Notre Dame, Miami are VERY good. They will all sit around the top 15 much of the year, as will Lousiville. We learned Syracuse is more real than we thought, thanks to the emergence of Frank Howard. Virginia is Virginia, and their defense will have them dancing again. But outside them, who else is legit? Clemson, Florida State, Virginia Tech are not locks by any means. Wake Forest has had major struggles and Georgia Tech is still a question mark with their suspensions.

It’s not expected for the Big Ten to win this challenge. I’m not sure any conference can beat the ACC in this challenge. But the Big Ten’s inability to keep it close at all, shows there are major weaknesses in the conference. It’s possible we only see three, maybe four teams make the big dance come Selection Sunday. 

Social Media’s March Madness Winner


As famous as Selection Sunday has become in America, the day that follows is almost just as popular. Coined by some as “Bracket Monday,” the day following Selection Sunday is filled with over-analyzing college basketball seasons and thousands brackets filled out across the country. In what is looked upon as one of the most open pools in recent years, it appears as if anyone can put together a six game winning streak and make a run to the championship.

On Monday, we took to social media to see who our followers thought would be crowned champions in early April. Here’s what we found:

Teams Receiving One Vote:

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Teams Receiving Two Votes:




Teams Receiving Three Votes: 

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Runner Ups (9 votes each):

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NCAA Champions, according to Social Media (10 votes):



It’s hard to hard to bet against a Tom Izzo coached Michigan State team in March, and it appears our followers are smart enough to know so. Izzo has led the Spartans to seven Final Four appearances in 19 NCAA bids, including one last season in Indianapolis. Will the Spartans win the extra two games it could not last year? Or will one of these other teams knock them off in the process. Only time will tell. One thing is for sure though, it should be another exciting three weeks! Let the madness begin…