March 25, 2013
Four Big Ten teams won their first two games of the NCAA Tournament to advance to the Sweet 16, matching the conference record of squads to advance to the second weekend. Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State each advanced to the second weekend of tournament play, marking the second straight season the conference has sent four teams to the regional semifinals. The conference also sent four teams to the second weekend of play in 1980, 1989 and 1999. In each of the seasons with four Big Ten teams in the Sweet 16, one squad has advanced to the Final Four. Iowa advanced to the national semifinals in 1980, Michigan won the 1989 national championship, Michigan State earned a berth in the 1999 Final Four and Ohio State was part of the 2012 Final Four field. The four Sweet 16 teams are the most of any conference.
Indiana advances to the Sweet 16 for the second straight season, having last advanced to consecutive regional semifinals following the 1993 and 1994 seasons. Michigan advances to the regional semifinal round for the first time since 1994. Michigan State advances to the round of 16 for the fifth time in the last six seasons and eyes its first regional final appearance since 2010. With its third-round win, Ohio State advanced to its fourth straight regional semifinal a year after appearing in the Final Four.
For the first time in conference history, four Big Ten teams have advanced to the regional semifinal round in consecutive seasons. The Big Ten has sent four squads to the Sweet 16 on five occasions in history, but the 2012 and 2013 seasons mark the first consecutive years with four teams to advance to the second weekend. The Big Ten joins the ACC and Pac-12 as the only conferences to send four or more teams to the regional semifinals in back-to-back years and is the first conference to accomplish that feat since the 1997 and 1998 tournaments. Of the Big Ten’s Sweet 16 squads, three are making consecutive appearances as Indiana, Michigan State and Ohio State each advanced to the regional round in 2012.
How They Got Here
Indiana: The top-seeded Hoosiers saw five players score in double figures in their second-round victory over James Madison, with Yogi Ferrell leading the team with 16 points. Indiana then held off ninth-seeded Temple in the third round behind 16 points from Victor Oladipo and 15 from Cody Zeller.
Michigan: The Wolverines opened with a victory over South Dakota State in the second round, led by 21-point efforts from Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III. Against fifth-seeded VCU, Michigan posted a 25-point win with Mitch McGary posting a game-high 21 points and 14 rebounds.
Michigan State: The Spartans were paced by Derrick Nix’s 23-point, 15-rebound performance in their second-round win over Valparaiso. In the third round, Michigan State knocked off sixth-seeded Memphis behind 23 points from Gary Harris and 14 points and 10 boards from Adreian Payne.
Ohio State: Deshaun Thomas and Sam Thompson combined for 44 points en route to the Buckeyes’ second-round win over Iona. In the third round against 10th-seeded Iowa State, Aaron Craft hit the go-ahead three-pointer with 0.5 seconds remaining to give Ohio State the victory.
Two other conference teams have moved along in postseason tournament following wins last week. Iowa posted a pair of victories in the NIT last week, knocking off sixth-seeded Indiana State in the first round and seventh-seeded Stony Brook in the second round. The Hawkeyes will square off against top-seeded Virginia on Wednesday in the quarterfinals, with the winner advancing to Madison Square Garden as part of the tournament’s semifinals. Purdue won its first-round game of the CBI last week against Western Illinois and is two wins away from the best-of-three championship series, which begins on April 1. The Boilermakers take on Santa Clara on Monday and a win would advance them to the tournament semifinals on Wednesday.
Big Ten teams were among the most prolific during the opening weekend of NCAA Tournament play, averaging nearly 70 points per game through 13 contests. Four squads averaged better than 70 points per game during the opening weekend of play, with Ohio State averaging 86.5 points in its two games after scoring 95 points in the second round and 78 in the third round. Michigan (74.5 points per game), Minnesota (73.5) and Indiana (70.5) are also averaging better than 70 points per game, and are among a group of 15 programs to have played multiple NCAA Tournament games to average 70 or more points per game.
After its participating teams combined for 10 victories during the second and third rounds of this year’s NCAA Tournament, the Big Ten posted the most wins in conference history during the rounds of 64 and 32 since at least the first year the current format began in 1985. The 10 wins are tied for the second-most of any conference since that time, behind only the 11 victories by the Big East in 2009. A season ago, conference teams combined for nine victories in the opening weekend of play, which tied the previous conference record set in 1989 and matched in 1994 and 1999.
Two Named Naismith Award Finalists
Two Big Ten standouts were named among the four finalists for the 2013 Naismith Men’s College Player of the Year Award, it was announced on Sunday. Indiana’s Victor Oladipo and Michigan’s Trey Burke were selected among the final four, who were chosen based on their individual performances throughout the regular season. The Big Ten has had four previous winners of the Naismith Award, including Indiana’s Scott May in 1976, Indiana’s Calbert Cheaney in 1993, Purdue’s Glenn Robinson in 1994 and Ohio State’s Evan Turner in 2010. This year’s winner will be announced on April 7.
A Winning Tradition
For the seventh straight season, the Big Ten is assured of at least a .500 record in NCAA Tournament play as the seven squads have combined for 10 victories through the opening weekend of competition. The 10 wins through the first weekend of play is just one off the total of 11 triumphs from last year’s NCAA Tournament and is just five off the record of 15 combined victories set during the 1989 NCAA Tournament. Since 2000, conference teams have combined for 10 or more victories in the postseason event on five occasions.
Final Four Mettle
Three active Big Ten head coaches led their respective squads into the NCAA Tournament with Final Four experience, and each remain in the running for this year’s title. Michigan State’s Tom Izzo is one of three active coaches, and eight all-time, to have appeared in at least six Final Fours, joining Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Louisville’s Rick Pitino as the other active mentors with six or more berths. Ohio State’s Thad Matta has recorded two Final Four appearances with the Buckeyes, including last year’s squad that advanced to the national semifinals, and Indiana’s Tom Crean guided Marquette to the Final Four in 2003.
Of the seven Big Ten programs to earn berths in the NCAA field, five were seeded fifth or higher when the bracket was announced, the most of any conference. Following Indiana as a No. 1 seed in the East Region, Ohio State and Wisconsin earned top-five seeds in the West Region, with the Buckeyes as the No. 2 seed and the Badgers as the No. 5 seed. Michigan State is the third-seeded team in the Midwest Region, while Michigan is seeded fourth in the South Region. Illinois was the No. 7 seed in the East Region and Minnesota was seeded 11th in the South Region, giving the Big Ten contingent an average seed of 4.7, the highest average of any conference in this year's field.
A Season of Top-10 Matchups
With no fewer than three teams ranked among the polls’ top 10 for 10 of the 11 weeks of conference play, the Big Ten saw a record nine matchups of top-10 foes during the conference season. Five of those matchups included Indiana, which went a perfect 5-0 in those matchups. Michigan played in the most top-10 games of any conference team this season, posting a 3-3 mark against teams ranked among the top 10. Michigan State, Minnesota and Ohio State have also taken part in games featuring top-10 teams.