Posted on: March 14, 2010 5:39 pm

Big Ten belongs to the Buckeyes

John Wilkinson

El Ohio State wins the Big Ten Tournament in resounding fashion, 90-61 over Minnesota. This is the Buckeyes first tourney title since '07, when they rode old man Oden all the way to the Final Four. Can Evan Turner do the same? 

All signs continue to point towards 'yes', as the phenom racked up his second 31-point game in a row, to go with 12 boards and 6 dimes. Fellow guards David Lighty and Jon Diebler pitched in with 20 points and 19 points respectively. 

Coming off a 2-OT semifinal thriller, the Buckeyes looked no worse for the wear as their 6-man rotation took a 3 point halftime lead and exploded to a 29 point win. Ohio State has a huge talent advantage over Minnesota, but you rarely see a Tubby Smith coached team A) get blown out, and B) give up 90 points. 

Bracketologists and Bracktiatrists alike are scrambling to find the correct prognosis to the Big Ten's malady. Illinois came to Indy with the belief that a win over Wisconsin in the quarters would lock up a bid to the dance, however, it appears they've been hoisted by the Tubster and Minnesota, who battled out of a 6-seed to finish runner-ups. 

It's understood the selection committee wants to have the field locked and loaded a couple of hours before the broadcast, so you have to think if the Big Ten is to only get 4 bids, the Illini are NIT bound. 

Posted on: March 13, 2010 4:50 pm
Edited on: March 13, 2010 4:54 pm

Big Ten semis start with a bang

John Wilkinson

Evan Turner's 31 points and 10 rebounds propelled the top-seeded Buckeyes past Illinois in a double OT thriller. The Bucks advance to tomorrow's finals with heavy legs as 4 Ohio State starters logged over 40 minutes, and 3 stuck it out for all 50. 

Turner was fantastic yet again, though notching the tainted triple-double of 31, 10 and 10 TO's, and fouling out with a minute left in the 2nd OT. 

The Illini got 22 points out of Demetri McCamey and 18 boards from forward Mike Davis but will undoubtedly lament two wasted opportunities at the end of regulation and overtime where they ran out the clock without getting a game-winning shot in the air. Still a nice showing in Indy for Illinois as they will now rest up for the dance. 

The winner of Minnesota and Purdue, just underway, will have to like their chances to upset the Buckeyes, who really only use 6 players. However, Turner has never given us reason to doubt his pluck and the Bucks have a lot to play for with a #1 seed still on the table. 
Posted on: March 13, 2010 2:08 am
Edited on: March 13, 2010 2:11 am

Big Ten brings the madness

John Wilkinson

Semis are set in Indy after a rather unexpected upsurge of excitement that began with a miracle and ended with a Tub. 

Half-court game winning buzzer beater of the day

The heaving heroics of Evan Turner kept the Big Ten Tournament from dissolving into complete disarray, as Ohio State nipped Michigan 69-68. CBS's George Hamilton opines what we were all thinking as we watched the play unfold, what could John Beileine be thinking? Employing the prevent defense and taking your chances on a heave might work out against most foes, but Evan Turner with a clean look from 35-feet goes in 50% of the time. 

Most Outstanding Performance in the Face of the NIT

The Fighting Illini likely sealed an invitation to the dance with 58-54 win over the 4th seeded Badgers. For 36 minutes, Wisconsin was Indiana. The Badgers could only muster a paltry 20 points in the first half on 18% shooting. A too-little-too-late flurry of 3's made the score respectable, but Illinois controlled throughout, locking up at least 5 Big Ten bids. 

Iz-out, again

Score one for the Tub-ster and his Minnesota Golden Gophers who upset Michigan State in OT, 72-67. The loss prolongs the Spartan's confounding BT Tournament woes, now nine seasons removed from their last tournament title. 

Make it a round of Boilermakers...

Purdue dismissed Northwestern thanks to 28 points from guard E'Twaun Moore, and 22 from center JaJuan Johnson. Finding points is going to be an ongoing concern for the Boilers and it's good to see their studs step up in the clutch. I guess. 

Lunch pails and hard hats

-E'Twaun Moore, Purdue: 28 pts, 5 rebs
-Mike Tisdale, Illinois: 21 pts
-JaJuan Johnson, Purdue: 22 pts, 8 rebs
-Manny Harris, Michigan: 26 pts, 6 rebs
-Evan Turner, Ohio St: 18 pts, 8 assits

Big Ten Semifinals

(5) Illinois vs. (1) Ohio State 
The Buckeyes soundly swept the Illini in the regular season and it's hard to imagine they'd play as poorly as they did today. Illinois punched their ticket and fight for position but can they rebound their emotions? Turner will do what he do, and Illini guard Demtri McCamey needs to fight his stroke to help big man Mike Tisdale, who has really become a force of late. Expect a better effort from the Bucks but I expect McCamey to push this one down to the wire. 1:40

(6) Minnesota vs. (2) Purdue
Minnesota could steal another bid for the league with a trip to the finals, so expect piqued intensity in the Gopher's ball-line defense. First team to 60, ehh, 55, likely wins, and with E'Twaun Moore's ability to create, I think it'll be the Boilermakers. 4:00

And in case you've just awoke from a coma, congrats, and here's what you missed in the Big Ten today, you drama queen, you:

Posted on: March 12, 2010 10:31 am
Edited on: March 12, 2010 11:06 am

Big implications in today's Big Ten slate

John Wilkinson

A bubbly Big Ten tips-off at noon with Michigan battling arch rival Ohio State, commencing the Evan Turner Show. The POY finalist is certainly worth keeping an eye on, but some major bracket fallout is expected in the later sessions. 

At 2:00, Illinois takes on Wisconsin in a fight for NCAA Tournament salvation. It's been an up and down season for Bruce Webber's bunch, from handing Wisconsin its only home loss of the year last month to dropping five of its last six conference games to seal their fragile fate.  

If Minnesota can find some scoring and upset Michigan State in the 8:55 tip, it just might be enough to propel them to the dance, especially if Illinois is unable to beat Wisconsin. The Gophers were swept by the Spartans in the regular season, and you know what they say about trying to beat a team for the third time...which may or may not hold water statistically, I have yet to analyze the datum. Hard to believe with Izzo's Final Four prowess that Sparty hasn't won this tournament in 10 years. 

Now, let's whip out a hypothetical where both Illinois and Minnesota falter, as expected. Will the Big Ten really be just a 4-bid league? Many factors are at play here obviously, but what about Northwestern? The Wildcats are not mentioned on anyone's radar, thanks to a 7-11 conference record, but with 20 wins overall that include Notre Dame, a full-strength Purdue, and Illinois, perhaps they'll claw their way into tournament discussion if they can dispatch the wounded Boilermakers tonight at 6:30. Hey, if Georgia Tech can dance with a sub .500 conference record, then why not the Wildcats? Contrary to long-held attitudes, the ACC was hardly a juggernaut this year, certainly no tougher than the Big Ten. Come on, they've never been to the tournament people. 

It will be an exciting, borderline enchanting day in Indianapolis as the fate of its 2-3 bubble teams will have a tremendous impact on the national landscape. All that and Evan Turner. Enjoy. 
Posted on: March 11, 2010 12:07 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2010 12:26 pm

Big Ten Tournament: a preview


A three-way tie atop the regular season conference standings will be settled this weekend as the Big Ten Tournament begins today in Indianapolis. This year's edition is flush with intrigue as well as adversity, and if the regular season were any indication, expect nothing short of an evenly matched brouhaha here in the heartland. Heavy on back-doors, ball-lines, and box-outs, the Big Ten is often accused of lacking pizazz and offensive whimsy, and yet its sent four different schools to the Final Four in the last decade: Michigan State (4x), Ohio State ('07), Illinois ('05), and Indiana ('02). 



Michigan State (24-7, 14-4)

Can you even have a final 4 without first running it by Tom Izzo? Sparty has reached college basketball's penultimate playoff 5 times in the last 10 seasons, despite not winning a Big Ten Tournament since the Flinstones in 2000. Izzo is a master of motivation and seems to do his best work when his Spartan's are overlooked. Sparty's solid record speak for itself, but they've battled uncharacteristic chemistry issues all season and star guard Kaelin Lucas is just now getting over an ankle injury that is about to be heavily tested. Likewise, the team's top 3-point threat, Chris Allen, has been suspended for the tournament. 


Ohio State (24-7, 14-4)

This tournament means more to the Bucks than perhaps anyone else with that 4th #1 seed still up for grabs. It also serves as Evan Turner's final stage to make his case for National Player of the Year. The Buck's lone glaring weakness is its lack of depth. Their starting five is the best in the league but how far can you ride a 6-man rotation in a grueling tournament format? 


Purdue (26-4, 14-4)

You don't really appreciate an ACL until its been shredded. With star forward and leading scorer Robbie Hummel on crutches, Purdue's odds of winning this tournament and earning a favorable seed for a shot at an Indianapolis homecoming have been slashed. Yet, Matt Painter's squad will be playing with guile and you can bet a chip on their shoulder to prove they are more than a one-trick pony. Guards E-Tuawn Moore, Keaton Grant and Chris Kramer form a defensive minded perimeter but whether or not the Boilers can score enough points will ultimately decide their fate. 


Wisconsin (23-7, 13-5)

When are the Crew Cuts not solid? Every year they end the season at or near the top of the Big 10 with their trademark swing offense and shut-down defense. Bo Ryan has won this tournament twice in his 8 seasons in Madison, but has yet to really put his stamp on the program with a final 4 appearance. We know 'Sconsin can bring it, as they did early in the year against ACC bookends Maryland and Duke, and they beat every team in the Big Ten at least once. The return of strapping big John Leuer from injury gives Wisconsin some much needed scoring and defense on the block and could be enough to separate them from the four-way gridlock. The Badgers lead the nation with a mere 9 TO's per game, and blanketing defense is good enough for 3rd in the NCAA, which equates to one tough out. 



Illinois (18-13, 10-8)--the bubbled Illini must beat Wisconsin tomorrow to earn a spot in the big dance. Their success hinges on senior guard Demetri McCamey, who can light you up on offense or clank his team right out of contention. 


Minnesota (18-12, 9-9)--beset by suspensions and general off-court theatrics, the Gophers are an inconsistent mess but if we know anything about Tubby Smith, it's that the man thrives in the under-dog role. They should be able dispose of Penn State in the opener but are equally capable of just flat out not showing up. 


Northwestern (19-12, 7-11)--the Wildcats were a pretty tough out most of the year behind the league's most underrated talent, forward John Shurna. They also lost to Indiana to close the regular season, a flare-up of mediocrity difficult to ignore. But if anyone outside of the top 4 can steal a win or two, it's Northwestern. 



Michigan (14-16, 7-11)--John Beileine's Wolverines underwhelmed once again this year despite a solid one-two punch in guard Manny Harris and forward DeShawn Sims. There are problems with this team beyond Beileine's increasingly tired pick n' pop offense. It won't take much to get past Iowa today, but it's hard to expect anything but an early exit here in Indy. 


Indiana (10-20, 4-14)--the Hoosiers are bad, really bad. It's actually pretty shocking they managed to avoid the 11th seed in this tournament as losers of 11 of their final 12 games. I'd be shocked if Northwestern succumbs to this makeshift roster again in today's opening round, and I'm sure the folks in Bloomington are just ready to see this train wreck of a season come to an end. 


Penn State (11-19, 3-15)--a mid-season debacle featuring a 12 game conference losing steak secured a last place finish for the Nittany Lions, though two near misses agaisnt MSU and Purdue to close the season showed they might at least be capable of a win against the Gophers today. 


Iowa (10-21, 4-14)--on a given night, Iowa is certainly capable of out-sucking just about anyone they play. Except Indiana of course, the source of half of the Hawkeyes Big Ten victories. 


Why watch? 

Evan Turner alone is worth the price of admission, and Purdue's attempt to overcome the loss of Hummel will be as intriguing as any post-season storyline this weekend. It's Izzo, Bo, Thad, Turner and Lucas, all in one tangled web of bracketed mayhem. Can the Big Ten claim the last #1 seed? Can they squeeze a fifth team into the dance? Can Evan Turner really carry his team on a previously broken back? Will anyone score 80 points? 


Come on, you know you want a hit of this. 

Today's match-ups:


(8) Michigan

vs.                 2:30

(9) Iowa 


(7) Northwestern

vs.                 4:30

(10) Indiana 


(6) Minnesota 

vs.                 7:30

(11) Penn State 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com