When the NCAA selection committee adds the at-large teams to the field of its upcoming tournament, there is one qualification that makes plenty of sense: So what have you done lately?
Teams that struggle in the early going can be awarded by finding their way late in the season, or into their conference tournament.
The Big Ten currently has five teams who are running on all cylinders.
Michigan, which won its first regular season title since 1986, has won five games in a row. Wisconsin, which is a co-favorite with Michigan to win the tournament title, has won eight of its last nine.
But the biggest surprises have been Nebraska, winner of eight of its last nine, and Illinois, who has bounced back from mediocrity to win four of its last five.
The Cornhuskers (19-11, 11-7), with an RPI rating of 40, is a lock to make the NCAA field, especially considering the overall strength of the Big Ten Conference.
Illinois, despite its late season surge, will need more than a little luck to find a table at the Big Dance.
The Illini, with a ho-hum 18-13 overall mark, need to win three games in the Big Ten tournament to have any chance.
Illinois takes its first step Thursday (Mar. 13) at noon in a first round game of the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis. The No. 9 seed Illini meet the disappointing Indiana Hoosiers (17-14, 7-11) , who on paper look much better.
Indiana, listed a 2-point favorite, features dynamic guard Yogi Ferrell, Will Sheeheyand freshmen Troy Williams and Noah Vonleh.
In Illinois’ mini-streak, Rayvonte Rice and Kedrick Nunn have been the consistent scorers.
Michigan is next
Whoever survives the first-round match-up meets top-seeded Michigan Friday.
Earlier this season, Indiana used Ferrell’s defense to limit Michigan’s Nik Stauskas to six points in a 63-52 victory. Ferrell’s 27 points on 8-of-10 shooting didn’t hurt. Michigan evened the score last Saturday (Mar. 8) as Stauskas scored 21, Glenn Robinson III had 20, and Jordan Morgan had 15 while pulling down 10 rebounds.
In Michigan’s only game against Illinois, the Wolverines crushed Illinois 84-53 (Mar. 4) to clinch the regular season crown.
Michigan’s only Big Ten Tournament title came in the league’s inaugural event back in 1998.
In related news, Stauskas was named Big Ten Player of the Year (Coaches and Media) and John Beilein was named Big Ten Coach of the Year. Stauskas also received several other awards.
2014 NABC District Awards
Nik Stauskas, Michigan
Terran Pettaway, Nebraska
Gary Harris, Michigan State
Roy Devyn Marble, Iowa
Yogi Ferrell, Indiana
Adreian Payne, Michigan State
Drew Crawford, Northwestern
D.J. Newbill, Penn State
Aaron Craft, Ohio State
Keith Appling, Michigan State
Nik Stauskas’ 2013-14 Postseason Honors
• Sporting News All-America, second team
• Big Ten Player of the Year
» Big Ten Coaches
» Big Ten Media
• All-Big Ten, first team
» Big Ten Coaches (only unanimous selection)
» Big Ten Media (only unanimous selection)
• USBWA District V Player of the Year
• USBWA All-District V Team
• NABC All-District, first team
Award list courtesy of mgoblue.com
Please comment on our GBMWolverine Message Board about this article and read what others write. Go ahead and give us your thoughts, agree or disagree.
Just a reminder you must be a member to participate on the Message Board. Here is the link GBMWolverine Register for those people interested in becoming a member.
You can contact us at our e-mail address: GBMWolverine
Follow us on Twitter:
Written by GBMWolverine Staff — Joel Greer