Thursday, March 23, 2006

What the bleep happened?
In the immortal words of one of the best play by play announcers in all of sports - Dick Enberg - "oh my." What else can be said about the Big Ten as it pertains to March Madness? 2006 will go down as only the third time in the last 50 freaking years that the Big Ten has failed to place at least one team in the Sweet 16. The first time since 1996. Man that sucks and not just because I had Ohio State in the Final Four, Michigan State in the Elite Eight and Iowa and Illinois in the Sweet 16.

It's hard to take because all season long, the RPI showed the Big Ten as the conference to beat. Nine of the eleven teams went on to postseason play, even if no one gives a rat's ass about the three that went to the Not Invited Tournament (sorry U-M, but nice work on getting to that Final Four.) It's hard to take because who do I root for now? I deplore the Big East. Root for Duke? I'd rather have Dick "Dukie V." Vitale sing the Duke fight song mere inches from my face for an entire day than actually root for the Blue Devils. I guess there are the 'dogs, including that guy George Mason who beat my alma mater in round one or that guy Bradley who knocked off a couple of sleeper Final Four picks. But really, without the Big Ten, it just doesn't feel right.

Looking back...
A word to two can sum up each of the six early exits for the Big Ten. In chronological order:

Wisconsin - Blown out. And here I labeled this as a team that could pull a Wisconsin a la 2000. Yikes. The Badgers were NEVER in that game.

Iowa - Shocker. Give me a loss - as a fan - like Wisconsin or Michigan State's any day. They have plenty of time to settle in and are easier to flush at the end of the game. There is nothing like losing to Cinderella on a freaking miracle, fade-away, falling out of bounds, desperation heave as the clock is running out. Oh and blowing a 17-point lead made that part even worse.

Michigan State - Ouch. It hurt to watch my beloved Spartans beat at the very game they usually play. George Mason played old style Spartan defense, hit the glass with abandon and generally wanted it more than everyone except Drew Neitzel and Mo Ager.

Illinois - Tough out. The Illini faced a big, early deficit, turned it around by 25 points, but got out-clawed in the end.

Indiana - Valient effort. So long Mike Davis. Indiana gave it a good shot, but apparently you can't just stop Adam Morrison and still beat Gonzaga.

Ohio State - Disappointing. Arguably the best Big Ten team and most consistent all season, the Bucks got flat killed by a good but not great Georgetown team. Too boot, it happened in their own backyard.

It was ugly, but hey, there is always next year... the Big Ten can't always dominate half of the Final Four...

5 comments:

felix said...

Unfortunately the NCAAs are now the standard for achievement and the B10 got embarrassed by our earliest exit in 50 years. Match ups, seedings and perception really hurt our chances.
I gave some comments in you previous blog about how the league was behind the 8 ball with regard to the way the games were called. Our league needs to shed the perception of overly physical play. In the round of 32 B10 teams were given only 32 FTS in 3 games while their opponents shot 92! That's unbelievable!
The Illini were the only team to be leading by 10+ going into the final 10 minutes who shot less FTs from that point on then their opponent. Gonzaga shot 41 FTs to IU's 6 but last night UCLA shot 30 to Gonzaga's 26?
We as a league are getting shafted by seedings, match ups, perceptions and by who is reffing the games.
I know at least in the Illini/Washington game a number of national media types are again saying the officiating was inconsistent. One sports writer said, he had no doubt the Illini were fouling but so were the Huskies but no calls were being made. He went on to say that it was just seeing the non-called Washington fouls that made him question the calls but he could hear the fouls being made.
Lastly, Washington power forward Jensen was quoted after the game that he pushed, grabbed, elbowed and held Augustine in an all out effort to stop his scoring. Despite that, Jensen ended up with only 2 fouls.

felix said...

I made a mistake Jensen only had 1 foul!

BigTenSportsFan said...

Well, don't even get me started guys! The NCAA's anti-Big Ten conspiracy was in full effect -- did you see what those zebras did to Illinois? Meanwhile, MSU and Wisconsin got HORRIBLE seeds. I mean, where does the selection committee get off on giving Tom Izzo and Bo Ryan 6 and 8 seeds respectively?

Kudos to Michigan and Minnesota -- their impressive NIT showings are further proof that these two talented teams were snubbed by the selection committee.

felix said...

Here's an article about the B10's foul problems in the NCAAs.

http://www.herald-review.com/articles/2006/03/27/sports/mark_tupper/1014114.txt

RossMackey84 said...

Not getting out of the first weekend as a conference is disappointing, but in all honesty, the only "power" conference that truly got the job done was the SEC (and perhaps the PAC-10).......

Aside from newcomer Boston College's heroics, the ACC flamed out early, as did the Big 12---Texas was probably lucky to get as far as they did, and the rest were clearly paper tigers...

The Big East, with all those teams making it, was INCREDIBLY lucky its standard-bearer, UConn got as far as it did--the Huskies were clearly no better than ANYBODY they played in the tourney IMO...

Sorry--as much as I love the Big 10, I will not join the ranks of the "grassy knoll" crowd who grouse about bad reffing and conspiriacies against conference teams--outside of Wisconsin's and maybe OSU's losses, each each Big Ten team had ample opportunities to put away the teams which eventually beat them; all had, to borrow a tennis term: "the game on their racket"....

(MSU's lack of grit at crunch-time was shocking, but that is tempered by the fact that George Mason is LEGIT--the Patriots and LSU are the most impressive, most mentally tough teams left, to my way of thinking.......)