For a "football" conference, the Big Ten sure has looked much more dominant on the basketball court in recent years. The Big Ten is living up to all the hype this season and could potentially send four teams to the Final Four.
No. 1 Indiana – def. No. 16 James Madison and No. 9 Temple
The Hoosiers cruised to victory over James Madison, as was expected. IU won 83-62 against JMU, and the game wasn't nearly as close as the score indicates. Indiana had a much tougher game against Temple. IU finally won a grind it out style game and came away with a 58-52 win. Khalif Wyatt was a killer for Temple and scored 32 points. Temple deserves a ton of credit for its tough defensive game plan and execution. Luckily for the Hoosiers, they won't face a team likely to adjust its play style just to knock of IU. Indiana will face Syracuse on Thursday in Washington DC.
No. 2 Ohio State – def. No. 15 Iona and No. 10 Iowa State
The Buckeyes rolled past Iona, 95-70. Iowa State was a different matter. It came down to a questionable call late in the game and a clutch three-pointer from Aaron Craft as time expired to take down the Cyclones. Craft struggled late in the game but shrugged that off to provide OSU with a few key plays. The aforementioned questionable call was Craft taking a charge that upon further review really should have been a blocking foul. Iowa State has become the king of getting screwed over by bad officiating this season. Ohio State will face Arizona on Thrusday in Los Angles.
No. 3 Michigan State – def. No. 14 Valparaiso and No. 6 Memphis
The Spartans rolled in the first round. Valparaiso gave them trouble early, but faded fast in the second half giving way to a 65-54 win. Memphis played it tight in the first half, but were simply dominated in the second half. MSU won that game 70-48. Adreian Payne was on fire this weekend. He average 10.5 points and seven rebounds over the two games and had five blocks against Memphis. MSU will have its hands full with Duke in the Sweet 16, which has to be the best game in the next round. The Spartans and Blue Devils will be in Indianapolis on Friday for the next round of play.
No. 4 Michigan – def. No. 13 South Dakota State and No. 5 VCU
The Wolverines prolific offense simply dominated both tournament foes this weekend. South Dakota State was ill prepared to deal with Michigan and the Wolverines rolled to a 71-56 victory. VCU and the havoc defense couldn't contain Trey Burke (18pts, 7 assists) or stop Mitch McGary on the low block (21pts, 14 rebounds). Michigan is playing at a championship level right now and looks like the dominant team from earlier in the season as opposed to the one that floundered late during conference play. Michigan will face Kansas on Friday in Arlington.
No. 5 Wisconsin – lost No. 12 Ole Miss
The Badgers never fail to disappoint in the NCAA Tournament (not unlike Georgetown). Bo Ryan has perpetually built a team that succeeds in the Big Ten but isn't designed for success in March. Wisconsin looked well on its way to a traditional low-scoring win in the first half, but Ole Miss would have none of that. The Rebels won 57-46, and out-scored the Badgers 35-21 in the second half. The Badgers simply couldn't find a way to score against the zone defense. Wisconsin loves to hold the ball and take its time picking a shot, but at some point in the game you will need to score and score quickly. They failed to do so and will head home early once again.
No. 7 Illinois – def. No. 10 Colorado, lost No. 2 Miami
The Illini looked like a team that could make a serious tournament run….if they could just find a consistent shot from the three-point line. Illinois was 8-for-31 from the arc against Colorado in a 57-49 victory. The Illini played Miami about as tight as possible, but they ultimately fell 63-59. Miami was aided by a questionable call as the ball appeared to clearly bounce off a Miami player and was awarded back to the Hurricanes. Brandon Paul was key for the Illini with 35 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and four steals over the two games. Unfortunately for Illinois, Paul is a senior, and this was certainly not the way he wanted to end his college career.
No. 11 Minnesota – def. No. 6 UCLA, lost No. 3 Florida
The Golden Gophers were perhaps the best recipients of a favorable match-up over the weekend, simply for the fact that UCLA doesn't rebound the ball and Minnesota does. The 83-63 win appeared to silence the doubters of head coach Tubby Smith, but it apparently wasn't enough. Minnesota fell to Florida 78-64 and was immediately fired once he returned home. He had four years left on his contract. The Gophers seemed poise for Big Ten prominence, but the loss of Smith puts them into another rebuilding hole for next season.
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