Conference Tournament Preview: B1G Ole Mailbag

em>Editors Note: Last night while Brad Fuson was hard at work studying for mid-terms, him and Brian Batty Exchanged e-mails back and forth concerning the Big Ten Tournament. Here’s what transpired.

Brian: I’m here with everyone’s favorite Iowa Student who is currently bustin his hump for that B- GPA this semester with midterms coming up. How’s the studying going bud?

Brad: Haha, try a letter grade up my man. It’s going slow, but it’s going. One more day until Spring Break and of course all my assignments and tests are due on the same day. How’s life in the Lou?

Brian: Hey man can’t complain. This town is a strange sports town though that’s for sure. Cardinals Spring Training results/news is always the first thing on the 5 o’clock news. I bet if the Mayor of St. Louis was kidnapped by Sammy freaking Sosa, Adam Wainrights two inning start would have highlights first.

But that’s not why we’re here is it? The Big Ten Tournament starts Thursday, and it has been kind of a wacky season in the B1G this year hasn’t it? Nebraska was the 4th best regular season Big Ten team? Really? Am I living in a world where that’s a possibility

Brad: Go Cards!

Wacky is putting it lightly. Michigan loses last year’s tournament break-out star in Mitch McGary early in the year and proceeds to dominate the conference. Michigan State was riddled by injuries all year, but still might have the best team in terms of top-talent in depth in the country. And then, yes, there’s Nebraska. Can’t forget about them somehow finishing fourth in the standings. One thing is for sure, it should be a helluva a tournament.

Brian: I was so Team McGary. He and Trey Burke are two of the only Michigan athletes I will ever admit to loving. But even they are really beatable. Every team in the B1G this year is beatable. That’s why there’s no way Michigan/Wisconsin/Michigan State win it. It’s going to be like Iowa or Indiana or somebody weird like that right?

Brad: There would be zero complaints from this household if the Hawkeyes found a way to get in rhythm and win the whole damn thing. Though with the way they’ve been playing lately Northwestern surely won’t be a walk in the park.

As far a winner, it really is up in the air with me man as is the big tournament. I wouldn’t be surprised with Michigan running the whole thing or Minnesota being the last team standing. How about you? Who do you think survives the gauntlet?

Brian: Well before we get into our winner prediction let’s talk a little about these Thursday games. It’s weird because I don’t really see a lot of upset on this day. To me the B1G is 8 teams deep. The Illinois/Northwestern/Penn State/Purdue group is really bad. When Northwestern is the best basketball team on a list, you know things aren’t great. I see chalk across the board Thursday

Brad: I’d have to agree, but all those teams can get hot and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Illinois or Purdue pull out a win against Indiana and Ohio State respectively, but I agree that the higher seed should win in every match-up.

Brian: Purdue?! Purdue beating Ohio State? Your brain must be fired from all the studying you’re doing. You know we’re talking about Purdue not some other school with talent on its roster right?

Brad: Hahaha. Hey man I’m not saying take it to the bank or anything like that, but it’s March! AJ Hammons can ball when he’s assertive and Ohio State is no juggernaut; especially when Crafts being called for his bullshit defense (fouling). I want the Madness and I want it NOW!

Brian: Michigan/Indiana
Nebraska/Ohio State
Michigan State/Iowa

Here’s where it gets interesting. Minnesota needs a big run to get into the Big Dance, so they’ll have extra motivation playing against a big time rival for them. Wisconsin also has a lot of seeding to play for. If they fuck around and win this, they might be looking at a 2 seed.

Brad: IF those are the match-ups give me Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Iowa. Yes, I’m an Iowa fan, and yes I’m going to be a homer. And honestly, without much cause. Sparty has handled Iowa time and time again and this rematch of last year’s second-round B1G Tournament game likely will fall the same way, but Iowa has the talent and the depth to win the whole damn thing. Hopefully they dislodge their heads from their asses, remember how to play D, and can pull the upset. I think Michigan is too talented for Indiana and I’m still not sold on Nebrasketball (I’m not sure if I ever will be) and while a team like Minnesota can compete with anyone in the B1G, I’m not confident in picking them over Bucky.

Brian: I agree Wisconsin’s taking that one. Iowa needs Roy Devin Bag of Marbles to have a big game if they want to beat Sparty. If they get healthy in a week they’re a dangerous team for everyone else in the country. But that’s not saying anything nobody else has already said. Ohio State will end up beating Nebraska by like 15. Nebraska is a fun little team with some scrappy guys and a “Why Not Us” attitude to them, but OSU is to full of veterans to let a game like that go by them. Nebraska’s never had the spotlight on them before

Brad: Agreed on all fronts, but I think Aaron Whites play for Iowa is just as crucial as Roy Devs. If we assume Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State all move on, who do you think moves on to the Sunday finale? An Ohio State/Michigan semi-final would sure to be fireworks along with Michigan State pairing off with Wisconsin with the possibility of an in-state final looming.

Brian: They may or may not need Woodbury to not be the biggest stiff ever too. #ShotsFired

Wisconsin definitely has the depth and play style that goes along with winning 4 games in 4 days like everyone’s trying to do. That’s why they’ve always had success in this atmosphere. They don’t over exert themselves on either end. Every movement they do is with a purpose there’s nothing wasted anywhere. Bo Ryan is such a good coach, I love that man

I see a Wisconsin/Michigan final looming. If a team like Iowa or Minnesota doesn’t have some crazy run in them (which is absolutely possible), I’m going to go with the two of them. They’ve been the two best teams in the B1G for the most part this season, and I’d like to see that rewarded. But here’s the thing with this conference, it is so deep. Not like super quality deep, but for the most part 1-6 are about even, and every single team has major flaws and weaknesses. That’s why it’s so easy for us to go chalk on basically everything, because it is such a toss-up year. There is no clear-cut favorite.

Brad: Don’t diss the [sometimes]Dunking Dutchman (I have no idea what his heritage is. Just roll with it). Bo Ryan clearly hates the game of basketball and it should be evident to especially you as you’ve somehow suffered through years of the tragic product displayed. But the results are hard to argue with; Badger-ball gets the job done.

On the same note that it’s easy to pick all chalk, it’s just as easy to see all the results flipped. You’re right though, I legitimately have no clue who will even be in the finale, let alone winning it. I think that’s what makes this year especially entertaining; the fact that there are no “gimmes” making nearly every game a must watch.

Gun to my head, absolutely HAVE to pick? Give me Michigan/Michigan State reaching Sunday’s championship.

Brian: I don’t care what his nationality is; I’m going with The Dunking Dutchman forever. You know what? From now on I’m going to pick a new stiff white guy every year to call the Dunking Dutchman, regardless of what they may or may not be

So looks like the only thing we can agree on is Michigan making it to the finals. Which is ironic, considering the parity there’s been in the B1G all year but we’ll have to see. Should be an interesting weekend in Big Ten country.

How did it feel to finally get your head out of your ass and put fingers to keyboard and get your AWR writing on?


The way the years gone it’ll be Northwestern playing Illinois for the ‘ship. Just watch.

It felt great, man. Being a journalism major and all I’m writing on the reg and don’t have the free time to right about things I care about (e.g. this) very often, so it definitely was great getting something official on the site. Hopefully the start of many more contributions, but the man stays keepin’ ya boy down. I’m a busy guy!

Brian: Well you know what they say Iowa stands for?


Brad: Iowa


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