March 18, 2010
BIG TEN TEAMS IN THE NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP: The Big Ten has had 56 teams receive bids to the NCAA Tournament in the 2000’s. During the last 10 seasons, the Big Ten has amassed a record of 81-50 (.618). Michigan State and Wisconsin lead all conference teams having received a berth every year since the turn of the century. Overall the Spartans are making their 24th appearance and currently hold the fourth-longest active streak at 13. The Badgers are making their 12th consecutive appearance for the sixth-best string of active appearances in the country. It is the 16th overall appearance by Wisconsin.
THE BACK STORY: Five Big Ten teams were selected to participate in the 2010 NCAA Championship. Big Ten Tournament Champion Ohio State and fellow Big Ten co-Champions Michigan State and Purdue will represent the conference along with Minnesota and Wisconsin in this year’s Championship field.
Ohio State earned the Big Ten automatic bid to the NCAA Championship by claiming the 2010 Big Ten Tournament crown on Sunday and was then awarded the No. 2 seed in the Midwest Regional by the NCAA selection committee. The Buckeyes will open play at the Milwaukee first and second round site where they will meet No. 15 UC Santa Barbara first with the victor facing the winner of No. 7 Oklahoma State versus No. 10 Georgia Tech.
Michigan State received a No. 5 seed and will join OSU in the Midwest Regional. The Spartans are slated to open NCAA action in Spokane, Wash., against No. 12 New Mexico State with the winner of that game facing the victor of the Maryland-Houston contest.
Purdue also garnered an at-large bid to the Championship and will be seeded fourth in the South Regional. The Boilermakers head to Spokane where they will go head-to-head against No. 13 Siena as a first-round opponent with the winner taking on the victor of No. 5 Texas A&M versus No. 12 Utah State.
Wisconsin was also awarded a No. 4 seed and will travel to Jacksonville, Fla., to open the tournament against No. 13 Wofford in the East Regional. A win would pit the Badgers against the winner of the No. 5 Temple versus No. 12 Cornell game.
Minnesota was tapped for the West Regional and will head to Milwaukee as the No. 11 seed where it will face No. 6 Xavier and vie for a chance to square off against the winner of No. 3 Pittsburgh versus No. 14 Oakland in the second round.
A DEEP CONFERENCE: The Big Ten and Big East are the only conferences since 2000 to advance five different programs to the Final Four. The ACC and Big 12 have each had four different schools reach the national semifinals over that time, followed by the Pac-10 (2) and the SEC (2). Michigan State leads the Big Ten with four appearances (2000, 2001, 2005 and 2009) while Illinois (2005), Indiana (2002), Ohio State (2007) and Wisconsin (2000) have each earned a Final Four spot since 2000.
HIGH FIVE: Among the ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten and SEC, the Big Ten boasts the best percentage of teams qualifying for the top-five spots on this year’s dance card. Of the five conference programs selected to the 65-team field, four earned top-five seeds, representing 80 percent of the conference contingent participating in the 2010 NCAA Championship. With a handful of top-five seeded teams, the Big East landed 63 percent of its representation among the first five lines of the bracket, while the Big 12 saw four of its own earn top-five seeds. The ACC and SEC each had two squads seeded among the upper echelon of the tournament’s four regional divisions. A complete breakdown of the top-five seeds per conference representation follows:
NCAA Top-Five Seeds by Conference
Big Ten 4-5 (.800)
Big East 5-8 (.625)
Big 12 4-7 (.571)
SEC 2-4 (.500)
ACC 2-6 (.333)
LOW SEEDS TURN INTO HIGH WIN TOTALS: Big Ten teams have made a habit of advancing deep into the tournament despite low seeds. In 2005, fifth-seeded Michigan State was the lowest-seeded team to advance to the Final Four. Seven years ago, the Spartans were the lowest seed to reach the 2003 Elite Eight after winning three games despite earning a No. 7 seed. Two other conference teams have advanced to the Final Four in the last 10 years despite their low seeds, as fifth-seeded Indiana advanced to the 2002 national championship game and eighth-seeded Wisconsin reached the national semifinals in 2000.
FAMILIAR SETTING: Michigan State is making its 13th-straight NCAA appearance, the third-longest streak in the nation. Only Kansas (21) and Duke (15) have made more consecutive appearances. MSU will be making its 24th appearance overall in the NCAA Tournament with a record 48-22 in its previous 23 tournaments.
ROAD TRIP: The Big Ten’s five teams will play in three different locations to tip off NCAA Tournament competition. The quintuplet will travel a combined total of 11,839 miles round trip to reach their destinations. Minnesota will make the shortest trip – only 336.80 miles to Milwaukee, Wis. Michigan State will cover the most miles, trekking 2,009 miles from East Lansing to Spokane, Wash.
TWO MORE TEAMS DANCING IN MARCH: Illinois and Northwestern both earned postseason berths to the National Invitation Tournament (NIT). For the first time in school history, Northwestern has earned consecutive postseason berths. The Wildcats picked up a No. 7 seed in the 32-team tournament and will face second-seeded Rhode Island on March 17. Illinois earned a No. 1 seed in its eight-team bracket and will face Stony Brook in first-round action on March 17. ESPNU will provide live television coverage for both games.
MORE ON THE ILLINI: Bruce Weber will make his NIT debut with the Illini when Illinois (19-14) takes on Stony Brook (22-9) in first-round action at Stony Brook Arena. The top-seeded Illini will be making their first trip to the NIT since 1996 and fourth overall. The winner of Wednesday’s opening contest will advance to play the winner of the Kent State-Tulsa matchup in the second round. The selection marks the first postseason berth for the eighth-seeded Seawolves in the program’s Division I history.
AND ON THE ‘CATS: The Wildcats (20-13) will make their second NIT appearance under coach Bill Carmody and will travel to Rhode Island to clash with the second-seeded Rams (23-9). The winner will face the victor of Wednesday’s contest between third-seeded Wichita State and sixth-seeded Nevada. It will be the second all-time meeting between the Wildcats and the Rams. Rhode Island won the only previous matchup on Dec. 28, 1966, incidentally at Madison Square Garden in New York, the current host of NIT semifinals and championship game. It is the fifth NIT appearance for the Wildcats. Northwestern also participated in the tournament in 1983, 1994, 1999 and 2009.
SIMPLY THE BEST: The Big Ten’s fraternity of coaches has notched 80 NCAA Tournament and 21 NIT appearances, including the 2010 postseason.
STREAKING: Two of the Big Ten’s skippers are among the nation’s best in active consecutive NCAA Championship appearances. Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan are making their 13th and ninth appearance, respectively. Izzo’s 13-straight berths rank second-best in the nation behind only Rick Barnes (15) and Mike Krzyzewski (15). Ryan’s nine-straight appearances are fifth-best in the country, with only Mike Montgomery (12), Bill Self (12) and Mark Few (11) ahead of him.
FANTASTIC FIVE: The Big Ten has five coaches that have appeared in at least one Final Four during their head coaching tenure. Tom Crean, Tom Izzo, Thad Matta, Tubby Smith and Bruce Weber have all coached in at least one national semifinal while four of the five have coached in a national championship game. Only the Big Ten and Big East can claim such experience.
MR. MARCH: Michigan State’s Tom Izzo is no stranger to coaching basketball in March and has a top resume to prove it. Izzo has coached the Spartans to 13 NCAA appearances and owns a 31-11 record in their previous 12. He became only the second coach in NCAA history to reach four Final Fours in his first 10 years of coaching, joining Ohio State’s Fred Taylor who took his Buckeyes to four Final Fours in his first 10 seasons. Izzo is also one of only 10 coaches in NCAA Tournament history to advance to three straight Final Fours, which he accomplished from 1999-2001.
TURNING HEADS: Ohio State’s Evan Turner was named Sporting News’ National Player of the Year and first team All-America. The Big Ten’s top scorer and rebounder is the Buckeyes’ first honoree since Jerry Lucas, who won back-to-back Sporting News Player of the Year awards in 1961 and 1962. He is the first Big Ten player to be honored by the publication since Illinois’ Dee Brown in 2005. During his junior campaign, Turner joined Jim Jackson as the only Buckeyes with 1,000 career points, 500 rebounds and 300 assists. The Big Ten Player of the Year also earned an all-time conference best seven Big Ten player of the week awards despite missing more than four weeks due to injury. Overall, Turner now owns a Big Ten record 10 career player of the week honors to his name. The United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) also named Turner first team All-America just one week after the OSU swingman became the first Buckeye to garner USBWA District V Player of the Year laurels.