Today, the ball is tipped. Here we are. The pre-Dance party. The Conference Tournament. The fun before we all just fake sick next week.
Now, it goes without saying that the Big Ten Tournament is going to be rather wide open. It doesn't matter who wins the 8-9 game; they both hold wins over No. 1 seed Indiana. No. 12 seed Penn State's been playing tough ever since the last time it beat Michigan. Iowa is playing for its tournament life and need all the wins they can get. Purdue still has that guy who looks like a fat Lance Storm.
So instead of breaking down how everyone gets to the championship? I'm going to give you the great moments of the Big Ten Tournament that are TOTALLY going to happen.
12. Penn State Nittany Lions: After the Nittany Lions do the job in the second round and take down the Badgers like they were supposed to in the regular season finale, Bo Ryan is so impressed by the job that Pat Chambers has done in the last six games, he grabs the house microphone and bestows the honor of Coach of the Year to Chambers. Sure, they don't get to the championship game. But hey, free trophy.
11. Northwestern Wildcats: History is made as Northwestern gets a hard-fought, low-scoring win against Iowa despite only scoring 38 points. In double overtime.
(You're not seeing this, but I'm receiving a piece of paper.)
I'm sorry. I seem to have received a Best Case Moment for the Big East in the Big Ten Tournament.
10. Nebraska Cornhuskers: You cannot stop Ray Gallegos. You can barely hope to contain him. He puts up a 40-point effort on 14-for-31 shooting. All from beyond the arc. You don't think he will shoot all the threes? He's already got three attempts to his name. Don't look.
Just trust me on this.
9. Minnesota Golden Gophers: The Golden Gophers have found themselves in a weird position. They lose, and the tendency to fall apart in recent years as the conference season rolls around ends the Tubby Smith experiment and three seasons of frustration end. They win, and It's another potential year of heartache. So, after they make the Big Ten Tournament final, Tubby announces his retirement effective at the end of the NCAA tournament.
A.K.A. Having your cake and eating it, too.
8. Illinois Fighting Illini: Some madcap hijinx among the student section sparks a new rivalry with Nebraska after they kidnap Herbie Husker, place a foam ear of corn atop his head and force him to perform as Colonel Kernel. The Blogosphere will praise them as heroes. And rightfully so.
7. Purdue Boilermakers: D.J. Byrd continues to be an impact player for the Boilermakers. His play will be termed just incredible by the pundits and fans alike. It will dawn on Marie, the girl he's been pining after that he is the right man for her. And his play will make Ohio State call 911 for a big upset.
6. Iowa Hawkeyes: Fran McCaffrey staves off his destiny of being an eighth grade history teacher for another season by winning enough games for their entry into the NCAA Tournament. The Iowa fanbase celebrates and forgets about the pain of Ferentzball for one, maybe two weekends.
Kirk Ferentz doesn't allow a third weekend of celebration, you guys.
5. Michigan Wolverines: Trey Burke will swear it was an errant pass, but after watching "Varsity Blues" the night before, he gets an idea. There's a rematch with Indiana. Tom Crean's doing Tom Crean stuff. Yadda yadda yadda, he takes a basketball off his face.
He may have got away with it. But there was a second pass. Long story short? Barney's Movie may have had heart, but Indiana-Michigan the rematch had basketball to the groin.
4. Wisconsin Badgers: Mike Bruesewitz and the rest of the seniors don cowboy hats and affect Texan accents as they cut the brakes on their offensive struggles and have them crash into victory with the nets being cut down, in a wild card style.
Failing that? Beating Crean again would be nice. I'm simple like that.
3. Michigan State Spartans: The duel is a classic. Both players have their "A" games rolling. Gary Harris hits so many threes. Sam Dekker answers. But on this day? Harris outduels Dekker. But there's definitely going to be a rematch. And it will be fun.
2. Ohio State Buckeyes: It may not have as much panache as the school up north, but the Buckeye are not here for such things as revenge or tomfoolery. Hijinks are acceptable, if Mark Titus is to be believed. But they are here to win. And as such. They hope to take care of all sorts of business.
1. Indiana Hoosiers: Victor Oladipo's a good guard. But this is not his tale. This is the tale of Maurice Creek. Creek was unable to build on his 16.4 points per game from his freshman season. He got hurt, and he's been buried on the bench. But the time will come. And Creek will deliver.
Clearly, all these things aren't going to happen. But you know what? This is going to be a tournament were we could really see anybody get the job done. I'm excited for it.
There's that electricity in the air.