Around the Big Ten: What each team needs to do to win the Big Ten tournament

first_imgWith the Big Ten tournament already a day old, 12 teams remain in play for the coveted Big Ten men’s basketball tournament championship and an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.To see what each team’s chances are in the tournament, The Badger Herald reached out to each student newspaper in the Big Ten and asked them, “What does your team have to do to win the Big Ten tournament?”Here’s what they said:1 – Wisconsin (28-3, 16-2 Big Ten)Since the loss to Maryland, the Badgers have bounced back in a big way with wins over Michigan State, Minnesota and Ohio State to capture the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten tournament.Big Ten Player of the Year Frank Kaminsky and all-Big Ten selections Sam Dekker and Nigel Hayes will need, and will likely, continue their effectiveness from the regular season into tournament time. If the backcourt duo of sophomore guard Bronson Koenig and redshirt senior Josh Gasser can consistently hit some threes, that will help to take the full scoring load off the shoulders of the frontcourt and will only help UW.But for Wisconsin to win its second conference championship of the season, they’ll need the bench to step up like they did against Ohio State. With the potential for games on three straight days, the Badgers’ starters won’t be able to play 30-plus minutes each game and hope for fresh legs come Sunday. Zak Showalter, Duje Dukan and Vitto Brown will need to come off the bench and give head coach Bo Ryan valuable minutes. If they can do that, you have to like Wisconsin’s odds of bringing home another Big Ten championship.– Eric Kohlbeck, The Badger Herald2 – Maryland (26-5, 14-4 Big Ten)Through their resurgent season, the No. 8 Terrapins have employed a constant formula in games that go down to the wire.Head coach Mark Turgeon puts the ball in the hands of Melo Trimble or Dez Wells and lets one of his two stars go to work on the most crucial possessions of contests. If the Terps play through Wells on back-to-back trips down the floor, they’ll often run an isolation for Trimble, the crown jewel of a four-member freshman class, on the next play. It works vice versa, too.So in an attempt to win their inaugural Big Ten tournament, the Terps will lean on Wells and Trimble. It’s a tactic that’s worked well this season — the Terps are 10-0 in games decided by six points or less — and it’s clear that Turgeon’s willing to take his chances living and dying with the two all-Big Ten performers.– Aaron Kasinitz, The Diamondback3 – Michigan State (21-10, 12-6 Big Ten)We’re no closer to figuring out if the Spartans have what it takes for a postseason run than they were back in November.The same problems that reared their head at the beginning of the season —  untimely fouls, an inability to get defensive stops with a lead and three minutes left and the lack of a consistent crunch time scorer — remain an issue today. These three issues nearly cost them the No. 3 seed-clinching win against Indiana last Saturday.MSU could have won four additional games this season had they drained more free throws in the last two minutes. It’s true. A few lucky bounces could go a long way in the tournament.It’s tough to bet against a team led by Tom Izzo, even if critics will say this is a down year for him. The Spartans are as formidable as anyone when their big three — Travis Trice, Denzel Valentine and Branden Dawson — are locked in.And despite all of the frustration, it says something that despite their struggles, they still emerged as the third best team in the conference behind two top-10 teams.– Omari Sankofa, The State News4 – Purdue (20-11, 12-6 Big Ten)Purdue had a rough start to the season, going just 8-5 in non-conference play, including a three-game losing streak right before Big Ten play.However, the Boilermakers found their stride in conference play earning four wins over top-25 teams in the process with back-to-back wins over then No. 25 Iowa and No. 22 Indiana. Despite losing two of its last three games to finish out the regular season, Purdue still ended up with the No. 4 seed and double-bye.The Boilermakers are led by seven-foot center A.J. Hammons who averages a team-high 11.5 points per game in addition to 6.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks. Purdue will need Hammons to perform at an all-Big Ten level with two potential difficult matchup ahead should the Boilermakers get to the championship game.Fifth-seed Iowa could potentially play Purdue Friday and if it can get past that one, top-seeded Wisconsin awaits in the semifinals.– Eric Kohlbeck, The Badger Herald(The Purdue Exponent could not be reached)5 – Iowa (21-10, 12-6 Big Ten)If Iowa wants a chance to win the Big Ten Tournament, it needs its best players to play like its best players, and Iowa fans should be confident the Hawkeyes will do so. Aaron White has been on an absolute tear during Iowa’s current six-game winning streak, averaging 21.2 per contest. Jarrod Uthoff has been fairly steady all year, and his 12 point average has helped the Hawkeyes a lot. (Sorry, Wisconsin fans. Although, I’m sure you’re not complaining much in the land of cheese).Contributions from Anthony Clemmons, Mike Gesell, Adam Woodbury, Gabe Olaseni and Peter Jok have been huge too. Even Josh Oglesby’s jumper has show up lately. If these guys keep playing the way they’ve been playing during Iowa’s hot streak, the Hawkeyes aren’t the team I’d like to square off with if I’m an opposing coach.The bottom line is this: Iowa has looked strong to end the season on the offensive and defensive end of the ball. As long as there isn’t a let down, head coach Fran McCaffery and company have a nice future.– Danny Payne, The Daily Iowan6 – Ohio State (22-9, 11-7 Big Ten)For the Ohio State men’s basketball team to be successful in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament, it will need more than just spectacular play from freshman guard D’Angelo Russell.While the Buckeyes typically go as Russell goes, the Louisville, Kentucky, native is in uncharted waters as a college player.He has never played in a postseason game in college, but is surrounded by teammates who have played in two Elite Eights and a Final Four.OSU will need consistent play from senior forward Sam Thompson to help stretch the floor for Russell and will need senior center Amir Williams to be the dominant center everyone thought he could be coming out of high school.If the Buckeyes can give Russell any kind of help, they have a chance to surprise a few people and make a late run in Chicago.– James Grega Jr., The Lantern7 – Indiana (19-12, 9-9 Big Ten)Indiana has been a lot like an unlit firework.The potential for an explosion is there. The Hoosiers are equipped with more shooters than just about any team in the country and regularly put four guards on the floor more than capable of letting shots fly from beyond the arc.But then there’s the chance the firework that is the 2014-15 Hoosiers is a dud. The offense, when clicking, can cover the sins of a poor defense, lack of height and youth sometimes too prone to making mistakes.When it’s not clicking, IU can lose to just about anyone.IU will go as far as the offense will carry it in the Big Ten Tournament. The only way IU stands a chance is if sharp-shooting guards like Yogi Ferrell, James Blackmon Jr. and Nick Zeisloft get hot from beyond the arc and hit around 15 3-pointers to make up for a sometimes non-existent defense.​– Sam Beishuizen, Indiana Daily Student8 – Illinois (19-12, 9-9 Big Ten)There is a pretty good chance Illinois senior guard Rayvonte Rice never gets a chance to play in the NCAA tournament.The Champaign native transferred to Illinois after two years at Drake and has become one of the Big Ten’s most feared scorers. After the Illini lost to Purdue in West Lafayette last weekend, their NCAA tournament hopes took a big hit. The Illini sit at 19-12 entering the Big Ten tournament with a game Thursday morning against Michigan.The Illini probably need at least two wins in the Big Ten tournament to go dancing. Illinois has some talented players on their team, but their X factor is Rice. He knows this is his last chance to make the NCAA tournament. Down the stretch, Rice has started to lock in, averaging 20 points in his last five games. We’ll see just how far Rice can carry his hometown team in the Big Ten tournament.– Sam Sherman, The Daily Illini9 – Michigan (15-15, 8-10 Big Ten)According to Michigan head coach John Beilein, the Wolverines “have a chance against everybody” if they can play like they did against Rutgers. If Michigan can have 20 assists, a 30-point scorer and another player post a double-double, it might be possible to win the Big Ten Tournament and steal an NCAA Tournament bid.While that’s certainly possible, it’s very unlikely. Michigan will need everything to go its way to win the Big Ten Tournament. It’ll need great shooting from deep and for its bigs to contain the opposition down low to stay in games.Just like they did earlier in the season against Wisconsin, the Wolverines will need to fight as long as possible and hope the ball bounces their way in the end to squeak out the win.Michigan will have to play a complete game all tournament long to have any chance to win it all.– Dan Feldman, The Michigan Daily10 – Northwestern (15-16, 6-12 Big Ten)If Northwestern is going to make a run in the Big Ten Tournament, it needs a lot to happen. The Wildcats have the pieces to reach the semifinals with a little luck, but to go any further they will be in need of a ton of luck.Point guard Bryant McIntosh was an all-Big Ten Freshman Team selection, but he seems to have hit the proverbial “freshman wall” in recent games, particularly with his scoring.In the final five games of the regular season, McIntosh averaged 6.4 points on 28.9 percent shooting, although he was also dishing out 6.2 assists per contest.The Wildcats will need McIntosh and leading scorer Tre Demps, a junior guard, at their best when going up against talented backcourts from Indiana and Maryland just to reach the semifinals.Freshman wing Vic Law has been an X factor for Northwestern in the team’s late season surge. He scored in double figures three times in the final five games after just one such scoring effort previously in Big Ten play.– Jesse Kramer, The Daily Northwestern11 – Minnesota (17-14, 6-12 Big Ten)Minnesota winning the Big Ten tournament won’t be easy. The Gophers have lost five of their last six games, but could definitely surprise some teams if a few things go well.Andre Hollins has to be on fire. He scored 41 points at Minnesota once and has been streaky all season. Mo Walker needs to build off his 26-point, 11-rebound performance that closed out the regular season. It also wouldn’t hurt if freshman guard Nate Mason, who’s been coming on lately, broke out in late-round games that could potentially see him defending D’Angelo Russell and Melo Trimble.As a whole? Minnesota needs to limit second-chance points. The Gophers are terrible rebounders and every possession at the tournament will be critical.– Jack Satzinger, The Minnesota Daily12 – Nebraska (13-17, 5-13 Big Ten)Entering the tournament the Huskers have an eight-game losing streak, with only two of those losses coming by single digits. There was a lot of hype in Lincoln about Nebraska basketball this season with the return of leading scorers Terran Petteway and Shavon Shields. But with a failure to win on the road and a bench that rarely steps up, the Huskers have depleted this season.For Nebraska to make a run in the Big Ten Tournament, the Huskers need the bench to step up. Guards such as Tai Webster and Tarin Smith need to catch fire to give Terran Petteway the confidence to hit the three-pointers he’s always attempting. Offensively, it is essential for the Huskers to be more efficient in 3-point land, as they are only making 28 percent of three-pointers this season. Fix that on offense and you have a dark horse in this year’s tournament.– Josh Kelly, Daily Nebraskan13 – Penn State (16-15, 4-14 Big Ten)The Nittany Lions have a winnable game against Nebraska, but after that it gets tough.Fifth-seed Iowa awaits Penn State, should it beat the Cornhuskers, and after that would be Purdue. Now, head coach Patrick Chambers’ squad actually showed well against both the Hawkeyes and Boilermakers (PSU lost to each in overtime by four and seven points, respectively), but Iowa and Purdue will both benefit from byes.In both of those close, overtime losses, the Lions were unable to close the door down the stretch — something D.J. Newbill was able to do against Minnesota Saturday.But if Newbill and Penn State find a way to pull off three straight wins (something the Lions weren’t able to do against Big Ten teams in the regular season), the run would surely end there. Barring a shocking upset to Illinois/Michigan, top-seed Wisconsin would be the next challenge for the Lions.Newbill and Penn State’s Big Ten Tournament ride is likely to last only one or two games.– Garrett Ross, The Daily CollegianUpdate: No. 14 Rutgers and No. 12 Nebraska both lost in the first round of the Big Ten tournament Wednesday.last_img

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