It seems funny to me that all the attention in college basketball is always placed on March. No question about it, March is where champions are crowned (well, technically it happens in the first few days of April) but in my opinion, champions are made in the frenzied chaos of February.
Sure, a team can go on a run in the postseason conference tournament and then parlay that into big success in the NCAA Tournament, but more often than not, your champions are being molded in late January and February during the grind of conference play.
All season long, many thought it was Wisconsin’s Big Ten title to lose. Well, in fact it was. A schedule back-loaded with a week that included road trips to East Lansing and Columbus shattered conference championship dreams for the Badgers. Meanwhile, a one-month span (January 27 – February 25) built our champion – Ohio State. And perhaps more than that, it may have signaled that the young and ferocious Buckeyes are truly a team to be reckoned with when they say it matters most (March).
Now that the league crown is salted away and staying in Columbus, we can look at the frenzy that is late February for the rest of the Big Ten. Most experts still think the Big Ten gets five, maybe, maybe six into the Big Dance. If Indiana and Michigan State are in, that means four teams are fighting for one or two slots. Illinois seems to be a given, so that leaves three battling for one, maybe none. If you don’t love this time of year, you mustn’t have a pulse… it doesn’t get any better than this.
Congrats to the Buckeyes…
There’s another Big Ten title to boast about in Columbus. It is the second in a row on the hardwood and a nice continuation of the success of the football team. And it was done in a heckuva basketball game. A see-saw battle that the old school fans had to love. Defense, rebounding, guys getting on the floor. Vintage Big Ten ball. Ohio State, TFS salutes you.
Team of the Week…
I know, it would make total sense to give the nod to OSU as the team of the week, but bias aside, what Michigan State did might be more impressive. With backs against the wall, the Spartans stunned nemesis Wisconsin at home and then staved off the flu in a comeback win over Indiana. Two more big wins, tournament berth sealing wins, for the green and white.
Player of the Week…
The obvious choice might be Drew Neitzel from Michigan State (who was this week’s Co-PoTW with Greg Oden) for the show he put on against Wisconsin and the way he gutted through the flu to make big shots in a key win over Indiana. But I am going to go with a freshman. Raymar Morgan was the biggest reason the Spartans took out Indiana at home, despite facing a 13-point deficit. Morgan was also huge in the game against Wisconsin and solidified his case as one of the top freshman in the conference that doesn’t play for Ohio State…
ESPN.com's Joe Lunardi now has five Big Ten teams in (as of 2/26).
CSTV's Jerry Palm has six (as of 2/23)
I’ve been searching for a really good way to put my feelings about students rushing the court after big wins in college basketball. I am not a fan of a team like Arizona State doing it just because they finally won a conference game. But I have absolutely no issue with say, the Izzone or Value City Arena crowd storming the court in celebration after a big win.
The best take on the issue comes from The State News sports columnist Ethan Conley. Well put Ethan.
This Week in the Big Ten:
February 27 – Michigan State at Michigan
February 28 – Indiana at Northwestern
February 28 – Iowa at Penn State
February 28 – Minnesota at Purdue
March 3 – Michigan State at Wisconsin
March 3 – Illinois at Iowa (Tiebreaker)
March 3 – Northwestern at Purdue
March 3 – Ohio State at Michigan
March 3 – Penn State at Indiana
Get Gamm Update:
Buckeye Nation got a huge leg up by going 10-1 this week and taking a two game lead. Get Gamm will include the Big Ten tournament and NCAA as well as NIT play as well.
1 – Buckeye Nation: 76-17 (.817) 4 GG Wins
2 – Gamm: 74-19 (.796) 2 GG Wins
3 – Dan Meyer: 72-21 (.774) 1 GG Win
4 – phastdawg: 68-25 (.731) 1 GG Win