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.
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.
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.
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.
#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.