Friday, March 14, 2008

Big Ten teams in the NCAA - 4 or 5....or 6?

Well, whaddya know......yesterday's "warm-up" round of the Big Ten tournament was actually entertaining. We nearly had a full slate of upsets.

First, 9th-seed Michigan (10-21) knocked off 8th-seed Iowa (13-19) by a surprising score of 55-47. Not that much of an upset, but when you head into the tournament with 9 wins, you're sure as hell not the favored team. Congratulations Wolverines. You actually can claim that you won the season series from SOMEBODY (unless you want to count winning the season series over Eastern Washington 1 game to 0).

Mid-day action gave us another upset when 10th-seed Illinois (14-18) beat 7th-seed Penn State(15-16) on a final shot, 64-63. This one will sting Penn State badly. They had a shot at making the NIT, but falling below .500 will keep them out of post-season play. Winning this game would have put them into the "Field of 97". JoePa must be rolling over in his grave right now.

Finally in the nightcap, 11th-seed Northwetern (8-22) shit their pants in the second half and fell to 6th-seed Minnesota (19-12) 55-52. With a little over 2 minutes to play in the first half, Northwestern led by 16 points at 34-18. Then they realized that there was a reason they had lost 85% of their games in 2008. From that point on, they couldn't have hit water if they fell out of a boat.

Minnesota escaped with the win and many people may now see a win against Indiana as the springboard into the NCAAs.

I disagree. I think beating the Hoosiers is not enough. They need to win tonight, and then also beat either Purdue or Illinois in the semifinals. 20 wins will not get Minnesota in. They HAVE to have 21 and here's why;

It's time for Gopher Trivia!

Minnesota has 19 wins right now. How many of those wins came against a team that will play in the NCAA Tournament?

Answer - zero, maybe one. If Ohio State is selected, that will be the ONLY win the Gophers have against a team in the Big Dance.

After reading that, do you still think a win tonight is enough? Neither do I.

That brings us to Ohio State. Two weeks ago, they were unpacking their bags and preparing for the NIT. Since then, two wins against ranked opponents has put them back on the bubble. Beating Michigan State again tonight will add a third team to that, and it'll get them in. 20 wins will do the trick for the Buckeyes, but only because of those final three.

Hopes are high again in the Buckeye State, especially after seeing the boys win big games recently. But this is not a home game, and we've had a long time since our last game. Do we still have momentum?

We'll find out in about 3 hours.

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