10 B1G things I'm absolutely overreacting to after the first 2 rounds of March Madness
I’m still coming to grips with how wrong I was entering the NCAA Tournament. I think we’re all still trying to process what the hell actually happened in the first weekend of March Madness.
Eight (!) B1G teams were eliminated from the tournament before reaching the Sweet 16. EIGHT! The conference’s lone representative still in the hunt for a national championship is No. 1 seed Michigan. Who would’ve thought the league would be depending on one team so early in the tournament?
Yet here we are, still trying to process it all. How could the best conference in college basketball lay such a gigantic egg? And right in the heart of B1G country, no less. It’s going to be an NCAA Tournament the fans of the league will always remember, regardless of how hard they try to forget.
Believe it or not, there were still some takeaways from that first weekend in Indiana. Most of it unfortunate observations about this historically bad run for the B1G, but takeaways nonetheless.
Jay Bilas is wrong…the B1G was overrated
I’m going to have to disagree with Bilas on this one. The ESPN analyst fired off a tweet on Monday saying the B1G wasn’t “overrated,” but that it “underperformed” in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.
Illinois, Ohio State, Purdue, and now, Iowa…the top Big Ten teams we saw all season did not show up in the NCAA Tournament. This isn’t “overrated.” This is “underperforming.” Surprising.
— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) March 22, 2021
No. Would you like a better description behind my “No” response to the comment from Bilas? How about:
- Eight of the nine NCAA Tournament teams are back on campus
- The B1G had the first No. 1 seed (Illinois), No. 2 seed (Ohio State) and No. 4 seed (Purdue) to lose
- Average margin of defeat for the five B1G teams that lost in the second round was 12.6 points per game
- Four of the B1G’s losses came to mid-major programs (Houston, Oral Roberts, North Texas, Loyola Chicago)
I understand the complications behind judging a single team on a one-game sample size, especially after so many dominated the analytics and metrics over the course of an entire basketball season. But maybe we put a little too much stock into those computers this time.
So, go ahead, start the “over-rated” chants. It’s fair.
Michigan is having the B1G’s best run, and it’s doing it shorthanded
Hey, let’s give Michigan some credit, shall we? The Wolverines had their hands full with LSU on Monday night, but they did enough to pull out an 86-78 victory and become the only B1G team to reach the Sweet 16 this year. And they’re doing it without arguably their most dynamic player.
Michigan defeated Texas Southern and LSU without Isaiah Livers, who is out indefinitely with a foot injury. Joe Lunardi, and plenty of other analysts, thought that would result in an early exit for Juwan Howard’s team. Eli Brooks, Chaundee Brown, Franz Wagner and Hunter Dickinson have all stepped up their game, though. That’s not always the easiest thing to do this time of year (as you’ll notice from the other eight B1G teams).
Let’s take some time to appreciate what Michigan has done so far without its second-leading scorer and top 3-point shooter.
“Your family, your religion and Rutgers basketball”
Before this becomes too doomy and gloomy, let’s give another shoutout. Rutgers absolutely deserves it, even if the Scarlet Knights were bounced in the second round of the tournament.
Rutgers won its first NCAA Tournament game in 38 years on Friday, defeating Clemson 60-56. Steve Pikiell’s team had a chance to punch its ticket to the Sweet 16, owning a 10-point lead on No. 2 seed Houston in the second half. But a late run from the Cougars proved costly and the Scarlet Knights are back in New Jersey.
Sports Betting in Big Ten Country
Still, the combination of Geo Baker, Ron Harper Jr., Jacob Young and Myles Johnson was an incredibly fun one to watch. One that made history. Did it end the way they had hoped? Of course not. But Rutgers ended an NCAA drought that stretched four decades. This team deserves some applause.
As the great Jim Valvano once said, “Your family, your religion and Rutgers basketball.”
One final time this season. Rutgers basketball. pic.twitter.com/Sx6skRsAR5
— Ben Stevens (@BenScottStevens) March 22, 2021
Ohio State should never travel to West Lafayette again
Apparently the entire city of West Lafayette is like a giant House of Horrors for Ohio State’s football and men’s basketball teams. At least that’s what I have learned based on the Buckeyes’ most recent performances at Mackey Arena and Ross-Ade Stadium.
Ohio State doesn’t even have to play Purdue for those two nightmarish venues to haunt the Buckeyes, either. Friday, the No. 2 seeded Bucks took on No. 15 seed Oral Roberts and dropped an overtime contest, becoming the ninth 2-seed to lose in the opening round.
Chris Holtmann and Ryan Day might want to get together with Gene Smith and see if he’s able to run the idea of never making another trip to West Lafayette by B1G commissioner Kevin Warren. I’m told the folks in Columbus have a lot of pull when it comes to that sort of thing.
Cameron Krutwig – Honorary B1G Player of the Year
In a game that featured names Ayo Dosunmu, Kofi Cockburn and Andre Curbelo, it was Cameron Krutwig — an Officer Farva look-a-like from the movie Super Troopers — that dominated the headlines in Loyola Chicago’s upset win over Illinois. Deservedly so, too.
Krutwig scored 19 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and had 5 assists to lead the way for the Ramblers, getting to the Sweet 16 by defeating the top-seeded Fighting Illini. And since both Dosunmu and Luka Garza have been eliminated from the tournament, Loyola Chicago’s senior center is the B1G’s honorary Player of the Year.
Has anyone ever seen Cameron Krutwig and Rod Farva in the same room? pic.twitter.com/L6LSAK04Ga
— Derek Sondag (@derek_sondag) March 21, 2021
Why not? Everyone roots for the guy, he plays for a team in a B1G state and the Ramblers are going to be everyone’s favorite team moving forward thanks to beloved team chaplain Sister Jean.
In appreciation for this honorary award, we should all watch Loyola Chicago’s Sweet 16 matchup against Oregon State with a liter of cola in hand (go ahead, look up the reference).
Who got more TV time, Niele Ivey or Frank Garza?
This might be the biggest question from March Madness, honestly. If you flipped channels during Purdue’s opening round game against North Texas, you were likely to return to the screen with an image of Niele Ivey, Jaden Ivey’s mother and the head coach of Notre Dame’s women’s basketball team, on the screen. And anytime you’re tuned into an Iowa game, it’s almost guaranteed that during any stoppage of play the camera will pan to Frank Garza, Luka Garza’s father.
So, if anyone had a running timer on the camera time these two parents got over the weekend, please let me know. It’ll answer the most important question I’ve had from the past five days of the NCAA Tournament.
“In 49 states…” doesn’t really fit Indiana anymore
The NCAA had a brilliant idea of playing the entire tournament throughout the state of Indiana. Not only did it have ideal locations to host such a large-scale event, but the state is known for its love and admiration for the sport. It’s been worn out by now, but we’re all familiar with the “In 49 states it’s just basketball, but this is Indiana,” quote.
I’m not sure that’s the case any longer. At least not this year.
Only one team from the state reached the NCAA Tournament this year — Purdue. As you’ll remember, the Boilers were bounced in the first round by No. 13 seed North Texas. Only one other team, Indiana State, finished the regular season with a winning record.
I don’t have the page space to list all the schools that failed to make the NCAA Tournament this year from the state, but it’s kind of embarrassing. Actually, eliminate the “kind of” from that last sentence and simply read it as, “it is embarrassing.”
Draymond Green, America’s voice of reason
A lot of people watching Thursday night’s play-in game between Michigan State and UCLA jumped all over Tom Izzo again for a heated exchange with Gabe Brown. A defensive breakdown at the end of the first half that allowed a Bruins bucket at the buzzer resulted in an argument between player and coach.
Izzo grabbed Brown’s jersey, Brown yelled at Izzo and all of social media melted down, except for former Spartan Draymond Green. The NBA star was able to smooth things over with a quick tweet, saying “Typical Michigan State exchange…RELAX!”
Typical Michigan State exchange… move on RELAX!
— Draymond Green (@Money23Green) March 19, 2021
That was really all that needed to be said.
Fran McCaffery could’ve used Phil Parker’s help
I’ll admit I have no idea if the Iowa defensive coordinator has any interest in basketball, but his presence in Indianapolis for the Hawkeyes’ second round game against Oregon couldn’t have hurt. Iowa scored 80 points and still managed to lose by 15 to a faster, better shooting Ducks team.
Defense was an issue all season for Iowa and many of us thought it might be a hindrance come tournament time. Spoiler alert: it was. All I’m saying is that Parker — one of the best defensive coordinators in the B1G — probably could’ve helped out in some way, shape or form.
At the very least, we know the defense from Iowa wouldn’t have looked any worse.
Hats off to the dumbest comment of the weekend
Everyone is entitled to an opinion. However, if that opinion associates losing a game in the NCAA Tournament with a basketball coach properly wearing a mask during competition, I’m not going to let it slide.
Here’s the tweet that was sent out after Illinois, West Virginia and Texas Tech all lost over the weekend:
Not saying this is a causal relationship, but: the three coaches who seemed the least interested in wearing their masks this season were Brad Underwood, Bob Huggins and Chris Beard. Gone, gone, gone.
— Pat Forde (@ByPatForde) March 22, 2021
I really have no other comment for that. But I will leave you with this: Two of the three teams mentioned here — Illinois and Texas Tech — did not have to deal with a COVID-19 pause within their program for the entire college basketball season.
I applaud their coaches, players, training staff and administration for that, even if others won’t.