Friday, January 29, 2016

The Badgers Will Not Make the 2016 NCAA Tournament | Which Big Ten Teams Will?

NCAA tournament
In this post, let's take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of each Big Ten team that has, at the very least, a reasonable chance of making the NCAA Tournament. I have six teams listed, and that means that I don't think that the Badgers will make the tournament this year. 

Indiana- The 17th ranked Indiana Hoosiers are a mild surprise, sitting atop of the Big Ten at the moment tied for first place. This team's strength is guard play, especially from Big Ten player of the year candidate Yogi Ferrell. What concerns me the most is their interior size. The Hoosiers only have one play who is 6'10” or taller. The next biggest are several players tied at 6'8”. I know, I know, George Mason ran all the way to the Final Four without a player over 6'8” years ago. However, they took advantage of some major upsets in their very weak bracket and avoided playing anyone with serious size until they met Florida in the Final Four, and ran up against all those trees on the Gators roster.

Iowa- The Iowa Hawkeyes, currently ranked 3rd in the AP poll, are tied with Indiana on top of the Big Ten standings. Their strength is the fact that they have an All-American candidate in senior forward Jarrod Utoff who can take over a game. The weakness is the fact that other than Utoff and his sidekick, junior guard Peter Jok, they don't have much else.

Maryland- The 8th ranked Maryland Terrapins are a dangerous team lurking right below Iowa and Indiana in the standings. The Terrapins are one of the most balanced teams in the nation as they have five players averaging double figures in scoring. They also have really good size which, at the collegiate level at least, usually equates to good interior defense, and in this case, is. The problem I see with Maryland is the fact that they don't have that one player who can take over a game.

Michigan- The Wolverines are tied with the Terrapins right below Iowa and Indiana in the Big Ten standings. Michigan is a guard-oriented team, and have that player, in senior guard Caris LeVert, who can take over a game. The Wolverines also shoot 74% from the free throw line as a team, which is very good. What is going to be their downfall is their complete lack of size on the interior.

Purdue- The 21st ranked Boilermakers, much like Maryland, are very balanced, with four players averaging double figures in scoring. Also like Michigan, Purdue shoots 74% from the free throw line as a team. They also have one of the most coveted aspects at the collegiate level, a pair of seven footers that are skilled and dominate the paint. So what is the problem with these Boilermakers? The concern is whether or not their guards can do enough as unit to change the outcome of a game.

Michigan State- The 12th ranked Spartans have fallen on some tough times, having lost three in a row. Their biggest strength is they have one of the best players in the country in senior do-it-all guard Denzel Valentine, who can just take over a game with the best of them. The problem with this team is after Valentine, not much else, which could explain the three losses in a row.

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