2012 Big Ten Tournament preview

  • 03/07/2012 8:35 am in

The Big Ten Tournament tips-off tomorrow at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis and given the strength of the conference, this year’s event is shaping up to be one of the best in recent memory. Five teams enter the weekend ranked in the top 15 nationally and many eyes will also be on Northwestern, a team seeking a first-ever bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Here’s our tournament primer to prepare you for what lies ahead:

The Favorite: Ohio State. After outlasting Michigan State to claim a share of the regular season conference title on Sunday in East Lansing, the Buckeyes won’t be lacking confidence in their ability to win three games in three days. And they shouldn’t be. They’ve got the league’s most dominant post player in Jared Sullinger and a senior in William Buford who is capable of taking over games with his outside shooting.

Next in line: Michigan State. It’d be no surprise if the Spartans claimed the crown, but without Branden Dawson (torn ACL) the task becomes much tougher. After dropping two straight games to Indiana and Ohio State, Michigan State settled for a three-way tie for the conference title and will be looking to make a statement. They’ll need a big weekend from Draymond Green and better guard play from Keith Appling, Brandon Wood and Travis Trice to emerge victorious.

Don’t forget about us: Michigan and Indiana. The Wolverines are actually the No. 2 seed in the bracket, but their reliance on the perimeter play could make them ripe for an upset. They’re also capable of beating the league’s best teams if Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. play well as a tandem. The Hoosiers enter as the hottest team having won seven of their last eight games. But they have no player on the roster with a conference tournament win.

Darkhorse: Northwestern. The Wildcats arrive in Indianapolis with more to play for than any other team. A Thursday loss to Minnesota will likely send them to N.I.T. But get past that game and they’ll get a third shot at Michigan with a NCAA Tournament bid on the line. The Wildcats have already taken the Wolverines to overtime twice.

Forget about it: Illinois, Penn State and Nebraska. Bruce Weber said he coached not to lose this season. He’ll be coaching at the mid-major level next winter. Penn State and Nebraska are two teams that play hard, but both enter the weekend 0-4 over their final four regular season games.

Top four seed with easiest path to Sunday: Ohio State. The Buckeyes will face the winner of Nebraska/Purdue on Friday night and would then get the winner of Michigan/Northwestern (assuming the Wildcats beat Minnesota). None of those four can match the talent of the Buckeyes or coaching success of Thad Matta, who is 14-4 in the Big Ten Tournament.

Top four seed with toughest path to Sunday: Michigan. The Wolverines will likely get a Northwestern team hungry to avenge a pair of regular season losses and punch their NCAA Tournament ticket in a Friday quarterfinal. If they survive, a rematch with the Buckeyes awaits.

Most dangerous player: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State. The sophomore forward came back to Columbus to win the Big Ten, the Big Ten Player of the Year and a national championship. After splitting the league title and falling to Green in the race for the league’s top player, Sullinger will be motivated to have a big weekend. Without a big man capable of defending him until Sunday, things are shaping up favorably for him.

Team with the most to play for: Northwestern. And it’s not close. The league’s top six teams are locks to dance. The bottom five teams won’t dance unless they can win four games in four days. The Wildcats, meanwhile, sit firmly on the bubble with work left to do to solidify their bid. Factor in the storyline of chasing their first tournament appearance in school history and the national storyline coming out of the weekend will be how Northwestern fares.

IU’s history in the Big Ten Tournament

· All-time record: 8-14

· Last win: Mar. 10, 2006. 61-56 quarterfinal win over Wisconsin.

· Best finish: Runner-up in 2001. Lost 63-61 to Iowa.

· All-tournament selections: Tom Coverdale (2001-2003), Kirk Haston (2001), Jared Jeffries (2001).

· Coaching records: Mike Davis (7-6), Bob Knight (1-3), Tom Crean (0-3), Dan Dakich (0-1), Kelvin Sampson (0-1).

Fan information

· Tickets: All-session tickets for the 2012 Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament are on sale now, and single-session tickets will be available on Monday, Feb. 27, at 10 a.m. ET. Tickets can be purchased at Big Ten university ticket offices, the Bankers Life Fieldhouse box office, Ticketmaster outlets, www.ticketmaster.com or by calling Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000.

· Television schedule and printable bracket: Available here.

· Team bar assignments:

– Illinois – Ram Restaurant & Big Horn Brewery
– Indiana – Kilroy’s Bar & Grill
– Iowa – Weber Grill Restaurant
– Michigan – O’Reilly’s Irish Bar and Restaurant
– Michigan State – Slippery Noodle Inn
– Minnesota – Rock Bottom Brewery
– Nebraska – Champions Sports Bar and Restaurant at Indianapolis Marriott Downtown
– Northwestern – Buffalo Wings and Rings
– Ohio State – Champps Americana
– Penn State – Harry & Izzy’s
– Purdue – Scotty’s Brewhouse
– Wisconsin – Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar

· IU Alumni Event: The IU Alumni Association will hold a pre-game rally for alumni and fans at 11 a.m. Thursday at Kilroy’s at 201 S. Meridian St. If IU wins, another event will be held Friday three hours prior to tip-off.

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  • InTheMtns

    It’s been a topsy-turvy B1G year and I don’t know why we should think the tournament will be any different. I agree with your picks for upsets. Of course, before those games, I’m rooting for Nebraska over PU.

  • Eastwood88_2

    Are you out if your mind. Weber has completely under achieved as a coach with the level of talent he had. The crying after gordon wanted to stay home, chist child! Then to let his is thug frazier to push gordon before the game! This man is a baby who won with selfs players. I love every moment of his struggles!

  • Eastwood88_2

    Are you out if your mind. Weber has completely under achieved as a coach with the level of talent he had. The crying after gordon wanted to stay home, chist child! Then to let his is thug frazier to push gordon before the game! This man is a baby who won with selfs players. I love every moment of his struggles!

  • InTheMtns

    Pat Forde picked IU to win the B1G Tournament in his column, Forde Minutes, on Yahoo! Sports’.  Nance, Forde . . .see, not everyone in the media is down on IU. 

  • Hawg49Pan

    A major underachiever, just like Keady was at PUke!!!

  • Geoff_85

    Nearly had a coniption there…thanks fellas. I don’t know why in the world my Comcast box was showing Classic College Basketball in those slots. It’s like someone was playing a dirty trick on me, but with the wa BTN has been…well, you know. Now it shows Big Ten Tournament games in those slots. Whew.

  • anyone know what station I get a Don Fischer call on in the Chicago area? if thats possible at all. I am in school during the PSU and Wisconsin games and need a way to listen!!!!

  • Beeridge

     Definitely agree with you about the sub-par sites covering other school’s programs.  Shows you just how great ITH is!

  • RainCityHoosier

     Seriously?  Our dislike of Weber has absolutely nothing to do with his coaching ability.  Our dislike of Weber has to do with the fact that he’s just not a very good person.  Exhibit A:  What he pulled when IU played at Illinois when Gordon was on the team.  Sure, I’d have been disappointed too if I were him or a fan there after Gordon switched schools.  But the bush league crap that Weber, his players and the fans there displayed was something that NONE of the other current Big 10 coaches would have permitted.  You can’t tell me that the Weber couldn’t have stepped in and put a stop to the junk his players did, or pick up the mic like Knight used to do and castigate the crowd?  Sure he could have.  Would Izzo or Painter or any other Big 10 coach have done or permitted what Weber did that night?  No.  So, Disco, that’s why we don’t like Weber and that’s why you see a lot of it on this site.  Don’t like it, well, you’re free not to read it. 

  • RainCityHoosier

     Seriously?  Our dislike of Weber has absolutely nothing to do with his coaching ability.  Our dislike of Weber has to do with the fact that he’s just not a very good person.  Exhibit A:  What he pulled when IU played at Illinois when Gordon was on the team.  Sure, I’d have been disappointed too if I were him or a fan there after Gordon switched schools.  But the bush league crap that Weber, his players and the fans there displayed was something that NONE of the other current Big 10 coaches would have permitted.  You can’t tell me that the Weber couldn’t have stepped in and put a stop to the junk his players did, or pick up the mic like Knight used to do and castigate the crowd?  Sure he could have.  Would Izzo or Painter or any other Big 10 coach have done or permitted what Weber did that night?  No.  So, Disco, that’s why we don’t like Weber and that’s why you see a lot of it on this site.  Don’t like it, well, you’re free not to read it. 

  • InTheMtns

    No problem. We certainly don’t want you to miss the games. Maybe these games are destined to become classics and your Comcast box was predicting the future. Have you noticed it hanging out with a Magic 8 ball lately?

  • Geoff_85

    Haha ACTUALLY…no, not at all but you just might be onto something here. This one sure has the makings of a good tournament.

  • Geoff_85

    Let’s start with a win in the first round and go from there lol.

  • Geoff_85

    Let’s start with a win in the first round and go from there lol.

  • I don’t know that I’d ever call Gene Keady an underachiever.

    As much as I loved to hate on the guy growing up, he was a football player first and just “fell” into basketball coaching. 

    The fact that a football guy became one of the most successful Big Ten coaches in history is pretty impressive. 

  • On the BTN Tournament Preview show, Gary Williams picked IU to win the B1G tourney. I bet he still feels bad for beating the Hoosiers in 2002. 

  • calbert40

     He also said that IU would “suck” during the preseason coaches interview day.  Who does that?  Any coach mention that Penn St or Nebraska was going to suck this year?  No way.  You don’t do that.  Classless.

  • calbert40

     Big Cornhusker fan today!!

  • CreanFaithful

    Definitely Nebraska… it just makes too much sense!

  • CreanFaithful

    Definitely Nebraska… it just makes too much sense!