2007 Big Ten Tournament Preview

2007 Big Ten Tournament Preview

2007 Big Ten Tournament Preview
by Jordan Adams - 03/06/2007

The thought of a rubber match between the Buckeyes and Badgers does draw some intrigue to the Midwest, but for the most part this year's Big Ten conference tournament seems rather dull. Both Michigan State and Indiana have been competitive but their stay in the top 25 has been short at best.

Brian Butch's injury makes the Buckeyes clear favorites, and unless Alando Tucker makes Chicago his playground, Ohio State will capture this league postseason title.

Iowa could also have their say, but in the end this league is just as top heavy as the overall rankings of its teams suggests. You'll see one or two minor upsets, at least as far as the seedings might say, but nonetheless, Ohio State and Wisconsin will dictate the winner off this tournament.

THE FAVORITE:
Ohio State - The Buckeyes are cruising, or at least that's what their winning streak implies. They should have lost in Ann Arbor, but like great teams do, they stole one they had no business winning. Greg Oden will get the Shaq treatment, but this team cannot go away from him. He needs his 20-25 touches a game, and once they establish Oden the threes will fall when opponents start to double.

THE CONTENDERS:
Wisconsin - The loss of Brian Butch hurts this team tremendously. That injury could have happened to any other big man for the Badgers, but just not Butch. His outside shooting can't be found elsewhere, while the depth is shrunken that much more. Don't be surprised if you see the rest of this team on Alando Tucker's back in Chicago.

Indiana - The Hoosiers have the guard play and the shooters to make a serious run at this, not to mention the interior threat of D.J. White. Realistically I would be shocked if they weren't among the last four left, but their downside is the rely too much on the outside shot.

THE SLEEPER:
Michigan - Don't ask how the Wolverines managed to lose that game to Ohio State, because it's flat out stunning how a team this talented can choke away games like nobody's business. However, give them credit for sticking it to the Buckeyes while they did. If Tommy Amacker's squad can play like that for three or four games they will be in the finals. If not, he is likely out the door.

OPENING MATCHUPS:
#8 Michigan vs. #9 Minnesota - Michigan needs a run, and basically to win the whole bracket. It starts here with the Gophers, a team the Wolverines should have no trouble leaving in the dust on the first day.

#7 Michigan State vs. #10 Northwestern - This is the most one-sided of the first round match-ups, however the Spartans need to be concerned that they rely too much on Drew Nietzel. The freshmen are playing well for Tom Izzo, but this still is just a one-man team.

#7 Illinois vs. #11 Penn State - Here is where I see a small upset. Penn State has been competitive, while the Illini seem to be resting on their laurels, and I don't know why because they aren't in yet. The Nittany Lions take this low scoring game.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

It would be most exciting if we had another go-round of Ohio State and Wisconsin, granted the Buckeyes all but have a No. 1 seed locked up. The Badgers can, however, stake their own claim for a top seed in the Big Dance if they win out. Both Indiana and Michigan State will give fits to these top two seeds, but I expect the chalk to hold up in this one and for Thad Motta's squad to reign come Sunday.

www.docsports.com

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Re: 2007 Big Ten Tournament Preview


Big hopes, big agendas for Big Ten
Wed, Mar 7, 2007
By Associated Press

CHICAGO -- Say you're Ohio State, ranked No. 1 in the country, all but assured a top seed in the NCAA tournament. What's in it for the Buckeyes when the Big Ten tournament starts Thursday?

SPORTSBETTING.com lists the Buckeyes at -120 to win the Big Ten tournament.

Time for a tuneup, maybe. And hope - make that pray- no one, especially Greg Oden, gets hurt.

How about Wisconsin, which also held the No. 1 spot briefly before faltering a bit in the stretch? Perhaps get ready for the NCAA tournament, tweak your lineup and work on adjustments without injured rebound leader Brian Butch.

A mild miracle would be a must for Northwestern, Minnesota and Penn State. They would need to win four in a row over four days as Iowa did in 2001 to be part of Selection Sunday.

Indiana figures it's in the NCAA tournament already as the No. 3 team in the league. Michigan State? Probably, too, after a tough schedule. But Purdue, Illinois, Michigan and Iowa may need to make some noise and win some games at the United Center to make the 65-team field.

''I don't think there's a basket difference between about six teams,'' says Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson, who will get his first look at the tournament.

''This year this tournament probably carries more weight than it ever has before,'' Minnesota coach Jim Molinari said. ''I do think a lot of teams in the Big Ten - right or wrong - to be secure have to play well to secure their position in the NCAA.''

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, whose Spartans used a Big Ten tournament title as a springboard to a national championship in 2000, said an entire season is the best way to judge who belongs in the NCCA, not necessarily how you fare in a four-day tournament.

Teams ''should be judged through 30 games and this should be frosting on the cake or get somebody over hump, if that's what needed,'' he said.

''I don't know how many teams it's benefited ... or how many it's hurt. I think it benefits the Big Ten just because we at the same time other leagues are. ... That's a plus in recruiting.''

Since the inception of the Big Ten tournament in 1998, seven teams have gone on to the Final Four.

The conference tournament, which for next five years is slated for Indianapolis, begins Thursday morning with No. 8 Michigan (20-11) facing No. 9 Minnesota (9-21). No. 7 seed Michigan State (21-10) goes against No. 10 Northwestern (13-17); and the first day wraps up with No. 6 Illinois (21-10) meeting No. 11 Penn State (11-18).

In Friday's quarterfinals, Ohio State (27-3), led by standout freshmen Oden and Mike Conley Jr., faces the Michigan-Minnesota winner; No. 4 Iowa (17-13) and top scorer Adam Haluska takes on No. 5 Purdue (20-10); No. 2 Wisconsin (27-4) plays the Michigan State-Northwestern winner; and Indiana (20-9), with 3-point ace Roderick Wilmont, meets the Illinois-Penn State winner.

Despite ending the regular season by squandering the first No. 1 ranking in school history with two straight road losses - then barely squeaking by Michigan State at home in its regular-season finale - the Badgers expect big things in the NCAA tournament.

Alando Tucker, the conference player of the year, said the goal remains a national title. And his teammates back him up.

''We want to win it all, definitely. ... Anything less, we're not going to be happy,'' center Jason Chappell said.

Michigan has a steady scorer in Dion Harris. The Wolverines will be trying to start some momentum, strengthen their bid for the NCAAs and cool some of the heat on coach Tommy Amaker.

Michigan State, in what was considered a rebuilding year, is looking to land a 10th straight NCAA bid. The Spartans are tough on defense and rely on the shooting of Drew Neitzel.

Purdue turns to David Teague and Carl Landry and hopes to avenge a 19-point drubbing from Iowa last month.

Illinois will be playing in its home-away-from-home at the United Center. But the Illini have had a tumultuous season dealing with DUI charges against Rich McBride and Jamar Smith. They feature strong inside play with Warren Carter and Shaun Pruitt.

All the speculation ends Sunday about who needs to do what to keep playing after the Big Ten tournament. Purdue coach Matt Painter has a simple motto for his team - nothing else really matters.

''Let's not talk our way into the tournament,'' he said. ''Let's play our way.''

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Re: 2007 Big Ten Tournament Preview

Big Ten conference tourney preview
Jeff Goodman / FOXSports.com

Below is a look at the Big Ten Conference tournament.

Team to beat: Ohio State — The Buckeyes' home win against Wisconsin gave them the Big Ten crown and the top seed. However, Wisconsin is a close second and can make a strong case for a No. 1 overall seed if they win the Big Ten tourney.

Sleeper: Indiana — The Hoosiers are certainly capable, having knocked off Wisconsin and Michigan State during the season. D.J. White is one of the best big men in the country and Kelvin Sampson has a solid backcourt.

Prediction: Indiana — Both Ohio State and Wisconsin may be vulnerable and the Hoosiers still have enough talent on a neutral court to run the table.

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