What month this is has long been established, and after a one year absence from postseason play, your Wisconsin Badgers are back in the NCAA Tournament. Receiving a No. 5 seed in the South Region from the infallible Committee, the Badgers will take on the Pac-12 Tournament champions Oregon Ducks on Friday afternoon around 3:30 p.m. CT. Beating the Ducks in the tourney on the way to the Final Four is a tradition around these parts, so it is probably good to just get it out of the way early.
You may be shocked to learn that other Big Ten teams also made the tournament, but they did! Seven other teams did!! That’s a nation-leading eight teams from the “Conference of Champions” (if we get to count Maryland’s last national title as a Big Ten one since they’re in this conference now). Let us take a look at the whole conference’s chances at making the Final Four or losing in embarrassing fashion to Temple or Belmont.
All KenPom rankings as of March 18, 2019
KenPom.com rankings: 36th overall; 15th offense, 115th defense
Notable wins vs. Tournament teams: Iowa State (No. 18 KenPom), Oregon (No. 43 KenPom) Ohio State (No. 44 KenPom), Michigan (No. 5 KenPom)
Hilarious losses: Rutgers (No. 77 KenPom)
Record: 22-11 overall, 10-10 Big Ten
Are they mad IRL about seeding?: No, they have lost six of their last eight games.
Biggest strengths: Optimism.
Iowa just has to beat: Cincinnati, Tennessee, Purdue, Virginia, North Carolina and Duke to win a national title. That’s it— Rick Webster (@TheRickWebster) March 18, 2019
Hopefully Nicholas Baer doesn’t turn out to be a sleeper Baercat and scuttle Iowa’s chances from the inside!
Biggest weaknesses: The Bearcats crash the offensive glass with abandon and don’t turn the ball over much. The Hawkeyes rebound defensively at an average level and force turnovers at a just below average level. Cincinnati should use all of their second chances and the fact that they are playing in their home state to their advantage.
ARE YOU A BEAR? OR A CAT? PICK A SIDE— Go Iowa Awesome (@IowaAwesome) March 17, 2019
When do they play?: Friday, 11:15 a.m. CT, vs. No. 7 seed Cincinnati
Maryland Terrapins (No. 6 seed)
KenPom.com rankings: 24th overall; 27th offense, 22nd defense
Notable wins vs. Tournament teams: Minnesota (twice, No. 47 KenPom), Wisconsin (No. 12 KenPom), Ohio State (twice, No. 45 KenPom), Purdue (No. 10 KenPom), Iowa (No. 36 KenPom)
Hilarious losses: Illinois (No. 83 KenPom)
Record: 22-10 overall, 13-7 Big Ten
Are they mad IRL about seeding?: Eh, not really.
Biggest strengths: Just trying to win a tournament game! Did you know that Maryland hasn’t won a postseason game, of any kind, since 2016? I did not know this and I know think that is one of the more hilarious facts I’ve heard about a “basketball school.”
Say Maryland gets by Temple/Belmont (they won’t) then they get an angry, coach-less LSU team who they also wouldn’t beat or a bunch of nerds from New Haven that are elite shot-makers (Yale is 11th in the country in eFG%). I’m just not that confident in the Terps.
Ok Maryland-Duke Elite Eight, let’s do it, two old rivals who are absolutely on equal footing as basketball programs— Alex Kirshner (@alex_kirshner) March 17, 2019
You should now pencil them in for the Sweet 16 since I think they will lose early.
Biggest weaknesses: Not being as good as the quidditch team.
Maryland Quidditch vs Maryland Basketball Since 2013— Mike Madonna (@Mike_Madonna) March 14, 2019
Record vs ranked teams on the road
32-6 vs 1-19
5 vs 0
1 vs 0
$0 vs $2,365,000
Rt to spread awareness pic.twitter.com/DDFTXbPsdy
I mean, the numbers are pretty damning. The Terps should probably just disband their basketball team.
When do they play?: Thursday, 2:10 p.m. CT, vs. No. 11 seed Belmont/Temple winner
Michigan Wolverines (No. 2 seed)
KenPom.com rankings: 5th overall; 18th offense, 2nd defense
Notable wins vs. Tournament teams: Villanova (No. 26 KenPom), UNC (No. 6 KenPom), Purdue (No. 10 KenPom), Minnesota (thrice, No. 47 KenPom), Ohio State (No. 45 KenPom), Wisconsin (No. 12 KenPom), Maryland (twice, No. 24 KenPom)
Hilarious losses: Penn State (No. 40 KenPom)
Record: 28-6 overall, 15-5 Big Ten
Are they mad IRL about seeding?: Sure aren’t!
Biggest strengths: The Wolverines are obviously a very good team and they are in the region with the lowest rated No. 1 seed and have a great coach and yadda yadda. Let’s talk about what really matters. Auburn winning the SEC.
Congratulations to Auburn pic.twitter.com/meSCKLkWth— Hunter Johnson (@HunterLJohnson) March 18, 2019
They won the WHAT NOW!?!? They beat the Vanderbilt Condomdores for the title, I believe.
Biggest weaknesses: The Grizz are coming into this game with a high amount of confidence since they hung with Michigan last year (only down three at halftime) in the Tourney.
All of the “Michigan Men” will have familiar faces at the arena beyond the Montana players, too!
That's almost cruel -- UM and MSU fans have to spend another weekend together! Both headed to Des Moines, Iowa. Michigan a 2 seed in West plays Montana. MSU a 2 seed in East plays Bradley.— Bob Wojnowski (@bobwojnowski) March 17, 2019
When do they play?: Thursday, 8:20 p.m. CT, vs. No. 15 seed Montana
Michigan State Spartans (No. 2 seed)
KenPom.com rankings: 4th overall; 4th offense, 8th defense
Notable wins vs. Tournament teams: Florida (No. 28 KenPom), Iowa (twice, No. 36 KenPom), Ohio State (thrice, No. 45 KenPom), Purdue (No. 10 KenPom), Maryland (No. 24 KenPom), Minnesota (No. 47 KenPom), Wisconsin (twice, No. 12 KenPom), Michigan (thrice, No. 5 KenPom)
Hilarious losses: Illinois (No. 83 KenPom)
Record: 28-6 overall, 16-4 Big Ten
Are they mad IRL about seeding?: Boiiiiiii, they mad as hell.
Biggest strengths: I wonder how many times a Big Ten Tournament champion has to be screwed out of a higher seed before the conference decides to move everything up a day? If Michigan State and Tom Izzo cannot get it done, I do not know if it will ever happen.
Watching @GetUpESPN with @Espngreeny and @SeanFarnham. Why the complaining about Mich St? They lost twice to Indiana and at Illinois. Tenn had a better season. That's why they are 5 and Mich St a 6. So Spartans went East. Not hard.— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) March 18, 2019
Seth, that is not the correct take. I mean, Tennessee has a player named Jordan Bone (maybe he should transfer to Auburn?), and I still think the Wolverines are the better team. Do you think these analysts sometimes say things to get people riled up, like, on purpose? Hmmmmmmmmmmm.
Biggest weaknesses: SVP knows the score.
People didn’t like @JayBilas saying the hay was in the barn. It was. Iowa State a 6, ‘Nova a 6, Auburn a 5, Cincinnati a 7 and MSU a 2. All won their tournaments and it seemed to mean nothing in terms of seeding. Not one thing.— Scott Van Pelt (@notthefakeSVP) March 17, 2019
Why even bother trying to win your conference tournament if it isn’t going to do anything positive for you? The only thing that could happen is injuries and, oh btw, Michigan State lost Kyle Ahrens on Sunday.
Michigan State's Kyle Ahrens was stretchered off the court in an air cast after an ankle injury.— SB Nation (@SBNation) March 17, 2019
Get well soon, Kyle pic.twitter.com/2vqgyNg45v
When do they play?: Thursday, 1:45 p.m. CT, vs. No. 15 seed Bradley
Minnesota Golden Gophers (No. 10 seed)
KenPom.com rankings: 47th overall; 54th offense, 44th defense
Notable wins vs. Tournament teams: Washington (No. 51 KenPom), Wisconsin (No. 12 KenPom), Iowa (No. 36 KenPom), Purdue (twice, No. 10 KenPom)
Hilarious losses: Boston College (No. 115 KenPom), Illinois (No. 83 KenPom), Rutgers (No. 77 KenPom)
Record: 21-13 overall, 9-11 Big Ten
Are they mad IRL about seeding?: Frankly, they are just happy to be here.
Biggest strengths: IT’S THE PITINO BOWL! Did you know that Richard Pitino’s famous, scumbag dad used to coach the Louisville Cardinals?
The entire city of Louisville as soon as Minnesota’s name appeared. pic.twitter.com/SvYYt3kl8r— LJ tha Fiasco (@LJthaFiasc0) March 17, 2019
The NCAA Committee putting Richard Pitino and Minnesota against Louisville. pic.twitter.com/UmW2eRUqur— Christopher Heady (@heady_chris) March 17, 2019
This will be the first game to tip-off on Thursday morning so if you are planning on making it until the afternoon games I would not make a drinking game out of how many times Rick Pitino’s name is mentioned during the broadcast.
Biggest weaknesses: Louisville is a weird team. They beat a bunch of good teams but also lost to Boston College, Pitt and Indiana. If they can keep the Gophers off the free throw line, a place Minnesota gets to frequently, I think they win by double digits. If they don’t, well, at least Cardinals fans are preparing properly.
If Louisville Loses to Minnesota you’ll find me in my quiet place which is my backyard where my wife will be wearing a suit of armor and hitting Naturdays cans with a 3-Iron while aluminum shrapnel and shitty beer pepper my flesh— area man does push-ups with dog on back (@hammel11) March 17, 2019
When do they play?: Thursday, 11:15 a.m. CT, vs. No. 7 Louisville
Ohio State Buckeyes (No. 11 seed)
KenPom.com rankings: 45th overall; 75th offense, 27th defense
Notable wins vs. Tournament teams: Cincinnati (No. 32 KenPom), Minnesota (No. 47 KenPom), Iowa (No. 36 KenPom)
Hilarious losses: Rutgers (No. 77 KenPom), Illinois (No. 83 KenPom), Northwestern (No. 74 KenPom)
Record: 19-14 overall, 8-12 Big Ten
Are they mad IRL about seeding?: Lololol, no way. Even happier than Minnesota to be here.
Biggest strengths: I am sorry about this.
Aaron Craft, man. A poor man’s Brad Davison if you ask me!
Biggest weaknesses: When looking at this year, however, I see very few scenarios in which the Buckeyes beat Iowa State. The Cyclones have the nation’s ninth most efficient offense according to KenPom and the Buckeyes do not have the shooting prowess to outgun them.
Iowa State vs Ohio State. Much of the country confused, thinking they are the same exact team from the same exact state. The one that produces potatoes.— John Jackovin ♂️ (@Jackovin) March 17, 2019
Bring me some of those potatoes from whatever state these teams are from.
When do they play?: Friday, 8:50 p.m. CT, vs. No. 6 seed Iowa State
Purdue Boilermakers (No. 3 seed)
KenPom.com rankings: 10th overall; 5th offense, 32nd defense
Notable wins vs. Tournament teams: Maryland (No. 24 KenPom), Belmont (No. 54 KenPom), Iowa (No. 36 KenPom), Wisconsin (No. 12 KenPom), Ohio State (twice, No. 45 KenPom), Michigan State (No. 4 KenPom), Minnesota (No. 47 KenPom)
Hilarious losses: Notre Dame (No. 90 KenPom)
Record: 23-9 overall, 16-4 Big Ten
Are they mad IRL about seeding?: I do not think so, but who knows with these maniacs.
Biggest strengths: Well, I found almost as many tweets saying ODU was going to beat Purdue as I did for Oregon over Wisconsin. Only this time, THE TWEETERS MIGHT BE RIGHT! The Monarchs play at a glacial pace and employ a stout defense and ... who am I kidding, they aren’t winning. Boiler Up, baby.
Purdue is 2-0 all-time vs. Old Dominion, beating ODU in the NIT in 1979 and in 2015.— Tom Dienhart (@TomDienhart1) March 17, 2019
Well there you go. This is such a historically lopsided rivalry that I barely count it as one.
Biggest weaknesses: Now THIS is a rivalry.
When do they play?: Thursday, 8:50 p.m. CT, vs. No. 14 seed Old Dominion
Wisconsin Badgers (No. 5 seed)
KenPom.com rankings: 12th overall; 52nd offense, 3rd defense
Notable wins vs. Tournament teams: Oklahoma (No. 38 KenPom), Iowa (twice, No. 36 KenPom), Michigan (No. 5 KenPom), Maryland (No. 24 KenPom), Minnesota (No. 47 KenPom), Ohio State (No. 45 KenPom)
Hilarious losses: Western Kentucky (No. 116 KenPom)
Record: 23-9 overall, 14-6 Big Ten
Are they mad IRL about seeding?: Yeah, yeah they are.
Biggest strengths: Oregon allows a metric fuck-ton of three-point attempts per game which means Brad Davison and Brevin Pritzl are going to have to snap out of their respective shooting funks. Aleem Ford is going to be an important player off the bench as well, since he has the correct size and shooting skill to matchup with the Ducks. Big Ten Player of the Year (My Heart Edition) Ethan Happ will also need to make some hay down low and keep passing well out of double teams to open shooters.
Wisconsin Oregon will be like every other Wisconsin game against a team that isn't a top two seed.— [Topical Pun] (@thegnc) March 17, 2019
Extremely loud, incredibly close, and dad's everywhere will be upset at Ethan Happ's free throw shooting.
WELL IT WOULD BE NICE IF HE MADE MORE THAN HALF OF T ... oh, I see your point, Rosin.
Biggest weaknesses: THE DISRESPEK!
5 seed Wisconsin has to travel to San Jose to face 12 seed ... Oregon. That ain't fair.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) March 17, 2019
Some notable NCAA tourney first-round betting lines:— Henry Bushnell (@HenryBushnell) March 18, 2019
- LSU -7.5/8 over Yale (other 3 seeds are -12, 13 and 15)
- Kansas -7/7.5 over Northeastern
- K-State -5 over UC Irvine
- Wisconsin -1 over Oregon (Ducks were *favored* late last night)
As is tradition, Wisconsin faces off against Oregon and plays a tournament game out west. People seem to be majorly discrediting the fact that Oregon played in the Pac-12, a historically bad Power 5 conference this year, and played many of their games against those historically bad Pac-12 teams.
Just because the Ducks have won eight games in a row (with the best team they beat during that time being Washington, aka Trashington, twice) doesn’t discount their losses to Texas Southern, UCLA (twice) and USC.
Yes, the Ducks have a lot of length and a really good point guard but if this is the 5/12 upset you pick, I think you are going to be just that ... upset.
When do they play?: Friday, 3:30 p.m. CT, vs. No. 12 seed Oregon