Time for me to put my money where my mouth is as a Badgers fan. As Wisconsin was going through their tailspin to finish the regular season by losing 5 of their last 7 games, I kept telling Badgers fans to stay calm. Wisconsin wasn't a Top 10 team this year even though they did crack that that threshold in January and with Bronson Koenig playing through an injury this team was bound to struggle a bit. But I kept saying that if Wisconsin could get to March with a healthy Koenig, Hayes, and Happ trio that I'd take my chances against almost any other trio in the nation. Well....it's time to put that theory to the test.
By all accounts, Bronson is almost fully healthy. He's played well the past couple games for long periods of time and looks close to full health. Nigel Hayes has been sitting out some practices due to a groin issue but nothing that has kept him out of any significant playing time. So it looks like that trio will be ready to go in March. And if that's the case, they will be my favorites to win the Big Ten Tournament. Am I a homer? Sure. But I do think it's their tournament to win.
Looking at the rest of the bracket, I'll say this every year I fill out a Big Ten Tournament bracket......way too many B1G schools have just a letter or some variation of a letter as their logo. It really is unbelievable. Go look at that bracket, it's just a modified alphabet. Penn State, Iowa, and Michigan State have a non-letter logo....and that's it.
As for things that may actually happen on a basketball court this week in D.C., this conference is so mediocre across the board that I think most games could go either way. Would you be SHOCKED if Minnesota won the tournament this weekend? No. How about even Maryland or Michigan State or Northwestern? No. Michigan or Iowa winning would be a surprise to me but definitely not a shock. It's not like they'd have to beat any dominant teams this season to do so.
I think that should make for an entertaining week of basketball with many competitive games. Again, how many teams would you be shocked to see still playing on Sunday in the championship game? Not many in my eyes, so that makes every game pretty important. I know Purdue is the #1 seed but I don't trust their guard play to win 3 games in this tournament and I'll have the same concerns for them in the NCAA Tournament next week.
As for other potential champions, Maryland could easily ride Melo Trimble all week to a B1G title and Minnesota is playing well enough right now to string 3 wins in a row together. Speaking of the Gophers, do we even get to have a Big Ten season next year since Richard Pitino won Coach of the Year honors or do we have to put the conference on probation for a year? Does anyone know the official ruling on that?
And can we figure out what's going on with Tim Miles and Nebrasketbrawl? Start of the conference season they looked like they had finally turned the corner and were going to make a run at the NCAA Tournament. Then they took a month long tailspin, appeared to figure some things out later in the year, and then get blown out by 36 in their regular season finale. I mean, they own a conference win over the conference champs this year. I don't get 'em....and I'm even a big Tim Miles supporter. But I just know they are going to hose me over this weekend. They'll win that first game just to ruin my perfect bracket after one game in the tournament. And then lose by 25 to Sparty.
Anyways, as always....On Wisconsin.
And screw Iowa.