Photo by the United Center/Chicago, Ill/www.unitedcenter.com
Posted by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740) & Tommy Parrill (@DearTommy)
I want to start this off by saying that I greatly appreciate everybody that has viewed and supported 'Our Sports Report' since its origination last Saturday. It really means a lot to the team here. Now to the good stuff. Tomorrow starts the first round of the 2013 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament, and I couldn't be more excited. The Big Ten was quite possibly the most exciting and strongest conference in all of college basketball this year. The fact that we get to see four straight days of Big Ten teams battling for the championship prize has me losing sleep...or maybe that's the bean burrito.
When looking at the first day match-ups, there are already 2 quality games that any basketball fan would love to watch. The first game to see is the #6 seeded Iowa Hawkeyes taking on the #11 seeded Northwestern Wildcats. Granted, Northwestern was 13-18 on the regular season, and if you aren't a genius or damn close, best of luck getting in. But being a fan of the game, I understand the sneaky ability and game play of the Wildcats. This is a team that had my beloved Buckeye's backed into the corner twice this season, and they barely escaped with nail-biting wins. Never-the-less, Northwestern is always a team that rises to the occasion when it really matters. So, if I am the Iowa Hawkeyes, I would keep a hawkEYE (see what I did there?) on the Wildcats tomorrow in Chi-Town.
The second match-up that I can't wait to see is the #8 seeded Fighting Illini of Illinois doing battle with the #9 seeded Golden Gophers of Minnesota. I still have no idea how these teams finished so low in the conference, but that just goes to show how strong the competition was on the regular season. I have been a huge Gopher supporter all season long, and that isn't going to change. Not only do I believe that Minnesota will take down Brandon Paul and the Fighting Illini, but I feel with that momentum on their side, they will upset the #1 seeded Indiana Hoosiers the next day. Yes folks, I said that Indiana will fall prey to the mighty Gopher. Indiana will probably get a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament anyways, but after a loss earlier in the season to the Golden Gophers, I'm sure it will be in the back of their minds all game long. I am so confident about that prediction, that my final score for the game will be Minnesota 78 Indiana 71.
As for the rest of the first round, Michigan will not get fooled twice by Penn State and will absolutely throttle the Nittany Lions, just as Purdue will do to Nebraska. Who, lets be honest, shouldn't even have a basketball team. The best thing that could happen to Nebraska Basketball, is if Taylor Martinez and the rest of Nebraska Football decide to throw away the pads and pick up the rock.
As we step into the next round, I already have Minnesota knocking off Indiana, and Tom Izzo will do what Tom Izzo does as Michigan State will easily torch the Iowa Hawkeyes. I do like the match-up on paper between Ohio State and Purdue, but just like the first two meetings this season, Deshaun Thomas and the defensive-minded Buckeyes will have no problem defeating the Boilermakers. I'm intrigued though by the Wisconsin versus Michigan game. As talented as Trey Burke and the Wolverines are, the conference and the NCAA Tournament relies so much on experience. Since Wisconsin has been there, done that and bought multiple t-shirts, the Badgers will best the Wolverines in a tough battle, 69-65.
As the tournament shakes out, Wisconsin will oust Minnesota, and the Buckeyes will out-play the Spartans to get to the conference championship game. From there, I think that the Wisconsin Badgers will win the Big Ten Conference Tournament and get the automatic bid into The Big Dance. In total, I believe that 7 Big Ten schools will get into the show (Ohio State, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Illinois & Minnesota), and give The Conference a great chance to bring home a National Championship this season.
I may have made a few picks that upset you, and honestly, I don't care. I have my opinions and would love to hear yours, unless it doesn't match mine, that is. Either way, this is going to be one of the most exciting Big Ten Tournaments ever, and I suggest that you strap in, grab a cold one, and enjoy the ride.