Inside the Hall’s 2015 Big Ten tournament preview

  • 03/10/2015 12:31 pm in

We’ll have our traditional what to expect series previewing Northwestern on Wednesday, but first up, Inside the Hall previews the Big Ten Tournament as a whole. The event tips off on Wednesday evening:

2015 Big Ten Tournament bracket
Location: Chicago (United Center)
Dates: March 11-15
Teams with a bye to Thursday: Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Northwestern, Indiana, Ohio State
Teams with a double bye to Friday: Wisconsin, Purdue, Maryland, Michigan State
Television: BTN, ESPN, ESPN2, CBS

Most friendly path to Sunday: Wisconsin. It’s only appropriate that the league’s best team has the most favorable road to the championship game, right? The Badgers only need to beat Illinois or Michigan on Friday to reach the semifinals and then will likely get Iowa or Purdue, who they finished the regular season 3-0 against. Wisconsin absolutely owned Iowa in the regular season, so a Saturday game against the Hawkeyes would be particularly favorable.

Most intriguing Thursday matchup: The only two Thursday matchups that are set both hold importance for the higher-seeded teams. To open Thursday, Illinois will face Michigan — a team it split a pair of overtime games against this season. It’s a must-win to keep hopes alive for a NCAA tournament berth. And then in Thursday night’s opener, Indiana gets a second shot at Northwestern, in a must-win game for the Hoosiers to remain on the right side of the NCAA tournament bubble. We’ll know a lot more about the Big Ten’s bubble situation by the end of the night on Thursday.

Team with the most to prove: Indiana. There’s an argument to be made for Illinois, but realistically, Indiana is the stronger possibility to make the NCAA tournament field of the two teams and given how poorly the Hoosiers limped to the finish line in the regular season, there’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding how this group will respond. A 15-4 record has deteriorated to 19-12 and there’s tremendous pressure on Indiana to at least win Thursday’s game against Northwestern to keep its tournament hopes alive. A loss seals a NIT bid in all likelihood, but a win sets the Hoosiers up for a showdown with Maryland, a team that it’s played well against twice.

Players to keep an eye on:

· D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State: This will be D’Angelo Russell’s first (and last) Big Ten tournament and as the most talented player in the conference, he’s more than capable of leading the Buckeyes on a run. Russell is a star, a certain lottery pick and is the most fun guy to watch in the conference. Enjoy him while you can, Big Ten fans.

· D.J. Newbill, Penn State: The Big Ten’s leading scorer was snubbed for All-Big Ten first team honors in the eyes of some and coming off his buzzer-beating heroics at Minnesota, he’ll be looking to extend his final collegiate season as far as possible. Newbill on his own isn’t enough to lead Penn State on a run, but he’s not going down without a fight.

· Branden Dawson, Michigan State: We all know that Dawson is a force when fully healthy, but his status seems a little bit up in the air entering the Big Ten tournament after suffering a head injury last week in a win over Purdue. The Spartans need Dawson on the floor to be at their best.

· Traevon Jackson, Wisconsin: The Big Ten tournament was the original targeted return date for Jackson, who broke his foot in a loss at Rutgers in January. Time is running out to get him back into the fold and while he could get a few tune-up opportunities early in the NCAA tournament, it would be huge for the Badgers to have him available in Chicago.

Bids on the line: Wisconsin, Maryland, Michigan State, Ohio State and Iowa are NCAA tournament locks. Purdue is likely in, but probably needs to beat Iowa (or Nebraska or Penn State) to feel completely safe. Indiana is the team with the most on the line in Chicago and if the Hoosiers don’t beat Northwestern on Thursday, they’re headed to the NIT in all likelihood. Illinois is still technically in the tournament picture as well, but probably needs to beat both Michigan and Wisconsin to get on the right side of the bubble. The Michigan win seems feasible, but beating a Wisconsin team that is playing for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament is no small task.

Filed to:

  • Hoosier_DC

    WTF. That’s all.

  • dssnyder1

    15-4 to 19-12 for the Hoosiers, that’s a tough number to deal with. Like most others on ITH, I have no idea which team shows up Thursday, hopefully the one with heart and drive.
    Go Hoosiers!

  • iubase

    Players get it. CTC gets it. Now it is time for the team to play and show that it is better than the last 3 games. CH should be better. JBJ will need open looks and when HMP and TW step up that usually happens. Hopefully HMP will get more than 20 min since he is the only one that can slow down Olah. Predict close win over NW. This is a critical game at a critical time for this program.

  • LiveIUBBall

    If this game doesn’t inspire urgency in this team, I don’t know what will. I think a healthy (?) Collin will be a game changer. I go back and forth on what exactly I want for this season/the future, including the coach. At times I think that this was a team that could be “figured out” in that once teams realized they just had to crowd the 3pt line, it got a lot harder to improve on that 15-4 record. On the other hand, there may not be a good answer for why our defense is so bad, and some of the coaching decisions (I’m no expert). I think if you told me at the beginning of the year that we’d have this record, I wouldn’t have been surprised give the tools we had to work with (a young, undersized team…with potential), and glad that it wasn’t worse. Few of the “experts” had us above the last few spots in the B1G. I personally hope we win 1-2 games in the B1G Tourney, and make it to the NCAA’s, win 1-2 games. I would be stoked to see what Crean could do with a MCD All American Big (Bryant?), a couple other key recruits and the team we have now with a season and another offseason under their belts. I sure hope this next offseason isn’t as transfer/loss filled as the last.

  • SilentBob

    Unfortunately it will be. If we sign Bryant or Maker we can be guaranteed to lose at least 3 players from this years roster.

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  • Hoosier Hall

    I predict that we beat NW soundly. I know that will not be a popular opinion considering our recent troubles but I’m sticking with it. If we can get by Maryland then we keep our fingers crossed that Illinois or Purdue knocks off Wisconsin so we have a fighting chance at winning this thing. I honestly don’t see us in the final but I’m being as optimistic as possible.

  • LiveIUBBall

    In all honesty I could easily name 3 I wouldn’t mind seeing go. I just don’t want a mass exodus like last year, although I think some “cleaning out”of some bad blood was needed. I think that’s the reason this year’s roster’s togetherness. I feel like high hopes for next year will hinge on the return of Yogi, HMP, Troy, and JBJ (generally in that order). RJ also is much needed for the future.

  • Don Daiker

    I would love to see Nick Zeisloft get the start in place of Robert Johnson. With the way Nick’s played and shot in the last few games, he deserves it. But I’m not sure that CTC is capable of needed adjustments like this.

  • And One

    I’m with you HH. Hoosiers by 20 on Thursday, or I’m going to sell all my worldly possessions and join a monastery. I’m serious. Give NW a pounding, then go into the next two (yes, two) with confidence.

  • INUnivHoosier

    I’d like to see NZ get the start over JBJ this game.

  • SilentBob

    Problem is it rarely is just the players we wouldn’t mind see going. I’d add Hartman to that list you have. I think he has been one of our most important players this year. I think his ability as a leader and diverse skill set is a major plus. Maybe he is looking at all these bigger guys we’re landing, added Davis’ return and maybe he is looking at a possible reduced role next year. When your facing losing three guys or more I’d put good money on at least one of them being a key player that none of us want to lose whether it be to the nba or transfer. I still think we will be a quality team regardless, but someone we like is going to leave and it will suck as a fan.

  • Eastwood88_2

    This is where the game should end up. Pressure the ball that will be the result… Don’t and it will be close

  • Ms hoosier

    I don’t know who Nick should start over James or Rob but he should start and play at least 25 minutes he’s the best shooter we got . IU needs scorers on the floor

  • deebo

    No pressure Hoosiers lol!!

  • Gdaddy

    Wouldn’t be too surprised to see Davis transfer… Would hate to see it though.