By a slim margin, our faction of amateur bracketeers has the Hoosiers over the Buckeyes and the 10 other Big Ten teams. Is that boring? Perhaps, but a glimpse at our individual brackets still stirs up some worthwhile debate.
Bracketology: it's some kind of science, eh?
I've yet to harness the source of the wizadry exhibited by the likes of Chris Dobbertean, Joe Lunardi & co., and it doesn't seem likely that'll change. Heck, the pressure to cook up a cool bracket is generally enough to sucker me into a few doltish upset picks and effectively trash my brackets. After all, unless you get some nice payoff for your efforts, what fun is a bracket mostly full of chalk?
That comes into play here, because we set out to compile a "consensus" B5Q bracket (pictured above) and while the Big Ten was likely the nation's wildest conference this year, you just knew the majority of prognosticators would settle on an Indiana-Ohio State final, with perhaps Michigan State making a few appearances there. Indeed, five of our brackets have that final, with the Hoosiers besting the Buckeyes three of those times. All together, Indiana was picked to win it all four times, followed up by Ohio State with three.
Well, that's boring. For a tournament that's universally expected to be purely ridiculous, going through this bracket and finding justifiable upsets is kind of hard. The eight-nine first-round matchup between Illinois and Minnesota is too easy, though half of our bracketeers (will that stick?) did go with the Golden Gophers.* Elsewhere, there wasn't a single dissenter among setting Thursday with Michigan, Purdue and Iowa as winners.
*Since we ended up with an even number of brackets, I designated myself the tiebreaker. Hope that's cool.
|GAME 1 WINNER||GAME 2 WINNER||GAME 3 WINNER||GAME 4 WINNER||GAME 5 WINNER||GAME 6 WINNER||GAME 7 WINNER||GAME 8 WINNER||GAME 9 WINNER||GAME 10 WINNER||GAME 11 WINNER|
|NICK KORGER||Illinois||Michigan||Purdue||Iowa||Indiana||Michigan||Ohio State||Iowa||Indiana||Ohio State||Indiana|
|ANDY JOHNSON||Minnesota||Michigan||Purdue||Iowa||Indiana||Michigan||Ohio State||Michigan State||Indiana||Michigan State||Michigan State|
|JACKSON DAHLQUIST||Illinois||Michigan||Purdue||Iowa||Indiana||Michigan||Ohio State||Michigan State||Indiana||Ohio State||Indiana|
|NATHAN PALM||Illinois||Michigan||Purdue||Iowa||Indiana||Michigan||Ohio State||Michigan State||Indiana||Michigan State||Michigan State|
|LOUIS BIEN||Minnesota||Michigan||Purdue||Iowa||Indiana||Michigan||Ohio State||Michigan State||Indiana||Ohio State||Ohio State|
|ANDREW ROSIN||Illinois||Michigan||Purdue||Iowa||Illinois||Wisconsin||Ohio State||Michigan State||Illinois||Ohio State||Ohio State|
|JACK MOORE||Minnesota||Michigan||Purdue||Iowa||Indiana||Wisconsin||Ohio State||Iowa||Indiana||Ohio State||Indiana|
|IAN McCUE||Minnesota||Michigan||Purdue||Iowa||Indiana||Michigan||Ohio State||Michigan State||Michigan||Michigan State||Michigan|
|PHIL MITTEN||Illinois||Michigan||Purdue||Iowa||Indiana||Michigan||Ohio State||Iowa||Indiana||Ohio State||Indiana|
|MIKE FIAMMETTA||Minnesota||Michigan||Purdue||Iowa||Indiana||Wisconsin||Ohio State||Iowa||Wisconsin||Ohio State||Ohio State|
On Friday, we naturally got a little ballsier. Everyone advanced Indiana past Illinois/Minnesota, save for the truly cavalier Andrew Rosin. The bracket he submitted was titled "yeah no." but hey, we've finally got some fun! Not only did Rosin advance the Illini onto Saturday, he pegged them into Sunday's championship game after defeating our fourth-seeded Wisconsin Badgers. As you'll remember, Wisconsin trashed Illinois back in Madison two months ago before February's rematch was a somewhat closer six-point victory. The Badgers have the specter of a couple injures and an utterly crappy end to the season -- just a three-point win at Penn State via a Traevon Jackson buzzer-beater after mustering just 43 points in a loss to Michigan State -- but to most of us, it seems like Bo Ryan will continue to have Illinois' number.
As for the Badgers, all 10 brackets have them playing Michigan in Friday's second game, slated to tip off around 1:30 p.m. CT. Only three have them winning, and only I have them getting to the championship game against Ohio State. Boy, that would be fun. The two Ohio State games this season were contrasting efforts. The first saw Wisconsin hoist up 28 three-point shots, make 11 and outscore Ohio State, 33-9, from long distance. But what happens when you live the whole game that far from the hoop? You don't get to the foul line. Yes, that probably says something about the quality of officiating (let's not rehash that here), but either way -- that's no way to play offense. The second game was a pleasure to behold, as the Badgers cruised to an 18-0 first-half run and never looked back. Ryan Evans also did this, and it was awesome.
Anyway, there were also a few more upsets worth discussing:
- Four brackets advanced Iowa past Michigan State before having the Hawkeyes bow out to Ohio State on Saturday. Could that actually happen? Iowa won six of its last eight games, including two straight over Illinois and Nebraska. The Hawkeyes nearly beat the Spartans in Iowa City early in the Big Ten slate, an ugly affair in which MSU didn't seize its first lead until about nine minutes left. Keith Appling nailed four free throws down the stretch, and Michigan State escaped with a 62-59 win that probably falls under the "wake-up call" category. For the record, Iowa also played Ohio State close, outscoring the Buckeyes, 41-38, in the second half of what was still a nine-point loss.
- Aside from Rosin's Illinois pick and my Wisconsin pick, Ian's Michigan pick was the other outlier among the crowd of Indiana picks for Saturday. Everyone in the college basketball world would love another glimpse of Michigan-Indiana after last weekend's epic clash. The Hoosiers grabbed that one, 72-71, after Jordan Morgan's last second put-back rolled, and rolled, and rolled around the rim before falling back to the floor. That gave them the series sweep, but on a neutral floor and with the proven volatility of the Big Ten Tournament? Tom Crean is bound to do something memorable.
- Finally, we ended up with six different teams in the championship game. Three had Michigan State getting there, even though Ohio State's currently gathering most of the "well, they're hot" hype. And Michigan, Ian's pick? I'll volunteer myself to throw him and Rosin one heck of a victory rager, should that Illinois pick manage to pan out.
In the spirit of all this bracketeering, we'd love to hear your thoughts about how this weekend will shake out. Relay them in the comments as you'd like, or use the same nifty Excel template that allowed us to generate our bracket.