Big Ten Tournament forecast foggy with a chance of upsets

Grant FrekingLantern reporterfreking.4@osu.edu 1. The tournament is Ohio State’s to lose. Sure, Michigan State is a deeper team and Wisconsin is a popular sleeper pick, but OSU has the ultimate trump card in Evan Turner. The likely Big Ten and National Player of the Year is capable of taking over and dominating any of the teams in the bracket. The Buckeyes’ only concern is depth, since coach Thad Matta rarely plays more than one or two guys off the bench.2. Illinois-Wisconsin will produce a surprise winner. Illinois shot itself in the foot to end the regular season, dropping five of its last six to put its NCAA Tournament hopes squarely on the bubble. However, they have a poor man’s Evan Turner in guard and fellow St. Joseph product Demetri McCamey, who is capable of breaking down opposing defenses like his high school teammate. A win over Wisconsin could be enough for the Fighting Illini to sneak into the NCAA Tournament.3. Purdue could falter in the quarterfinals. Now that star forward Robbie Hummel is out for the season, the Boilermakers’ front-court depth is questionable. If JaJuan Johnson gets into foul trouble, Purdue becomes a below-average offensive team and is very capable of being beaten by either Indiana or Northwestern.4. The Big Ten failed to live up to the hype this season. The conference sent seven teams to the NCAA Tournament last season and national pundits predicted that as many as eight teams would make it this season. However, Michigan and Minnesota struggled with inconsistency and were colossal disappointments. Moreover, Northwestern, hoping to gain a bid to the tournament for the first time in school history, had their hopes extinguished in November when the team’s leading scorer, Kevin Coble, broke his foot and opted for season-ending surgery. 5. Ohio State will prevail over Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament finale. Evan Turner will begin his postseason crusade by shredding the Spartan defense and putting the Buckeyes up early, similar to what happened when OSU visited East Lansing last month. The Buckeyes will hold off Sparty, and depending on Duke’s ACC Tournament success, may secure a No. 1 seed. Zack MeiselSports editormeisel.14@osu.edu 1. People should stop sleeping on the Wisconsin Badgers. Bo Ryan’s crew finished just one game behind the Big Ten champion trio of Ohio State, Michigan State and Purdue. The Badgers won their final four regular season games by an average of 20.3 points per contest. Plus, Wisconsin recently welcomed forward Jon Leuer back from injury. The 6-foot-10-inch junior promptly responded by winning the Big Ten Player of the Week award last week.2. The first round should be a snooze-fest. Don’t expect lowly Indiana to give Northwestern trouble. To prevent its bubble from being burst, expect Minnesota to fend off Penn State. And whoever wins the Michigan-Iowa matchup will only matter for another 24 hours before losing to Ohio State. The hard-fought, intense games won’t begin until the quarterfinals on Friday.3. The NCAA Tournament committee will be praying that a Cinderella isn’t still alive come 3:30  Sunday. Should Michigan, Penn State or Northwestern sneak into the tournament final, the committee will be sweating it out. Since the Big Ten Championship game is the last one to take place, the NCAA Tournament bracket is usually mapped out before the game’s conclusion. A team hovering around mediocrity could throw a wrench into the committee’s plans by advancing on to Sunday.4. No Big Ten team will receive a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. However, at least two will receive No. 2 seeds. Unless Duke falters very early in the ACC Tournament, the final No. 1 seed will belong to Coach K’s Blue Devils. The winner of the Big Ten Tournament will likely receive a No. 2 seed, as long as the winner is Ohio State, Purdue or Michigan State. If any of those teams reach the tournament final, that squad should also earn a No. 2. 5. Michigan State will top Ohio State for the Big Ten Tournament title. The Spartans peaked in March last season, when they surprised everyone outside of East Lansing by reaching the NCAA Championship game. Their depth could give OSU trouble, since the Buckeyes rarely play more than six players. Joshua A. DavidsonLantern reporterdavidson.252@osu.edu 1. If there is such a thing as a sleeper in the conference tournament, Michigan is it. The Maize and Blue are led by Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims, two of the most talented players in the Big Ten. After being a top 15 team in the preseason, Michigan has severely underachieved. However, a conference tournament championship still provides the Wolverines with a berth in the NCAA Tournament, which is plenty of motivation for their two-star upperclassmen.2. The most intriguing game in this year’s tournament is probably the quarterfinal matchup between Wisconsin and Illinois. The Fighting Illini will be battling for an NCAA berth and another quality win over Wisconsin could lock up an at-large bid. However, Bo Ryan’s Badgers are a tough out in the Big Ten Tournament and are playing to improve their own seed come Selection Sunday. The border rivals split their regular season games, both teams winning on the road.3. Look for Michigan State’s Raymar Morgan to be the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. The forward possesses tremendous talent but has been inconsistent throughout his career. But now, as a senior, this is Morgan’s last chance at Spartan immortality and he’s playing like it. Morgan scored a season-high 22 points on senior night in East Lansing, Mich., for the Spartans’ last game. Also MSU needs to replace the scoring of suspended guard Chris Allen. Look for Morgan to pick up the slack.4. Curse of the No. 1 seed: of the 12 previous Big Ten Tournaments, the top seed has only won four times. Fans of top-seeded Ohio State shouldn’t expect to be dancing on the court at Conseco Fieldhouse come Sunday. However, if the Buckeyes do claim the tournament championship, they look to be destined for greatness in the NCAA Tournament. Three of the four No. 1 seeds who did win the conference tournament advanced to the Final Four. 5. Even with Chris Allen suspended, Michigan State has the talent and depth to win the Big Ten Tournament. Tom Izzo’s teams are built for tournament play, as can be seen by his five Final Four appearances. The Spartans will defeat Wisconsin on Sunday to claim their third conference tournament championship. In turn, MSU will lock up a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

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