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March 08, 2002 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-03-08

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10 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, March 8, 2002



4 w


i A y


But only one can conquer the Big Ten Tournament

This has been one of the strangest seasons the Lig Ten
has ever seen. Your teems tied for the title for the first time
in 75 uears, Wisconsin went from a preseason doormat to
the No.1 seed in the tournament, No. 5 seed )Michigan
State may be playing the best basketball in the league
and Michigan found a way to survive into the second day.
(ln!Jone could win this thing, and we'll tell you why.
By Joe Smith and Steve Jackson Daily Sports Editors

The road through Inds

1 ',

#4 Indiana
Game 4
11:30 a.m.
# Michigan State

Game 4 winner

1:45 p.m.

Game 8 winner


#1 Wisconsin

is Um w - SU W

#8 Purdue


Game 5
2 p.m.

Game 5 winner



Game 1
-9 Iowa 87


Game 10
3:30 p.m.

#2 Ohio State

Nobody thought the Badgers could do it, but they did.
Wisconsin, under first-year coach Bo Ryan, was predicted by many presea-
son publications to finish in the lower echelon of the Big Ten. And with no
top 50 players or Wooden Award Finalists, and losing four starters in the
offseason, who could blame them?
But the Badgers proved everyone wrong by making a late run, capitalizing
off other teams' late-season losses to clinch a share of their first Big Ten
Championship since 1947 - the year Ryan was born.
Why they can win:
Wisconsin is the only team to defeat every Big Ten team at least once
this season, giving the Badgers confidence no matter who they play after
their first-round bye.
By utilizing unselfish basketball and scorching 3-point shooting from
senior Kirk Penney, the overachieving Badgers are also suddenly a team
that no one wants to play in the tournament. Penny drains nearly 40 per-
cent from behind the arc, and with Ryan's innovative "swing offense" -
which capitalizes on sound ball movement and big men that can step out
and shoot - Wisconsin scores just enough to win. The Badgers are also
stingy on defense, allowing just 62 points per game in conference play.

#7 Northwestern


Game 2
#10 Michigan 72

6:40 p.m.
ESPN Plus Regional

Game 6 winner


#3 Illinois

Game 9
4:05 p.m.
Game 7 winner

Game 9 winner

#6 Minnesota 85

9:10 p.m.
ESPN Plus Regional

. Approxiue,,aw ,,n

#11 Penn State





Wisconsin guard Kirk Penny shocked the world,
leading his team to its first title in 55 years.


S A ich igwn Skiate


2 Ohio

Another 20-win season for Ohio State is in the books, and this might
have been Jim O'Brien's best coaching job yet. He took a team that
had a gaping hole in the paint due to the departure of Ken Johnson,
the Big Ten's leading shot-blocker last season.
This unheralded group of Buckeyes has put an emphasis on aggres-
sive team defense and has taken care of its games at home to put it
atop the, conference.
Ohio State used a balanced attack to post the second most points
(72.1 per game) in the Big Ten this season. But the Buckeyes did
not look impressive in their 84-75 victory last weekend over the
Why they can win:
Brian Brown has been a monster from the outside, leading the Buck-
eyes in scoring throughout most of their games and becoming "Mr.
Consistency," according to his coaches. And guard Boban Savovic
may be the most underrated scorer in the Big Ten.
Ohio State needs a big tournament out of them and solid post pro-
duction from the its young bodies to have a chance at the title in

Brent Darby is one of the unknown Buckeyes
who has risen to new heights this season.

After opening at 4-5 in Big Ten play, Illinois won seven straight conference
games to earn a tie for the title. Overall, the Illini have won eight straight
to establish their longest winning streak of the season. Led by All-America
guard Frank Williams, Illinois is finally playing like the team that people
R expected would be a Final Four contender at the beginning of the season.
Several coaches have already come out and labeled the Illini as the team
to beat this weekend in Indianapolis.
Why they can win:
Two words: Talent and size.
The Fighting Illini have, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the most talented
team in the Big Ten, with Williams and two former conference Freshmen
of the Year - forward Brian Cook and shooting guard Cory Bradford.
When Cook is on his game, he is a virtual guaranteed double-double. He
also does a great job of creating solid looks for the Fighting Illini's outside
Cook and fellow forward Robert Archibald give Illinois an extremely dan-
AP PHOTO gerous one-two combination in the paint. Despite the troubles that Bill
Illinois guard Frank Williams has not lived up Self's team endured this season, a tournament title is still very much
to the high expectations of him this season. within reach.
Bobby Knight would have been- proud. The Hoosiers won a share of their
first conference title in nine years with stifling team defense, gritty play
and clutch outside shooting by Tom Coverdale and Kyle Hornsby.
Oh yeah, don't forget about Big Ten Player of the Year Jared Jeffries.,
"Who would have thought this team would come in here and win a_
championship?" senior Dane Fife said.
Not very many, but that is just typical of this season in the Big Ten."
i.t ..ihin h .--,.J ,.h nv +k ,a .-nr- rnPneran .n Iutp in the .

Michigan State may have missed a piece of the championship, but the Spartans may be playing the best ball in the con-
frence. Point guard Marcus Taylor carried the Spartans on his back - literally. He scored 32 and 34 points in two wins in
the last week of the season, shooting a combined 61 percent. That was good enough for Taylor to move past five players
and win the league scoring title.
Why they can win:
Because Tom Izzo always seems to have something up his sleeve once tournament time comes (usually a talented team
with multiple stars from Flint). The feisty coach knows how to light a fire under his team and get the most out of his play-
ers - especially in clutch situations. If Taylor continues his hot streak, and Alysious Anagonye stays out of foul trouble,
then the Spartans may shake up some things in the tournament.
Minnesota is the only true "bubble" team in this field. With a strong performance, the Gophers could catapault themselves-
into contention for an at-large berth. But if Dan Monson wants to be sure that his team avoids the NIT, he may need to win
three games in.a row. Center Rick Rickert was recently named Big Ten Freshman of the Year. He led the Gophers with 14.1
points and 6.8 rebounds this season.
Why they can win:
The Gophers are big - really big. Their five leading scorers are all taller than 6-foot-6. Although they did most of their dam-
age at home this season, their offense (74.4 points per game) is the most explosive in the Big Ten. Against Michigan, they
shot a mindblowing 82 percent from the field in the second half. In tournament play, that kind of firepower can put a game
out of reach or make a miracle comeback possible.
No. 9 Iowa
The Hawkeyes were ranked as high as No. 7 in the country this season, but they fell apart in conference play. Players
were benched for lack of effort and failure to attend classes, and many people left this team for dead. But Steve Alford's
club still has the most star power in the conference. Despite a horrible 5-11 record in the Big Ten, the Hawkeyes have all
the talent in the world and few people would be surprised to see them upset Wisconsin today.
Why they can win:
The whole "underdog winning the Big Ten" dream is one the Hawkeyes are very familar with. Last year, as a No. 6 seed,
Iowa had an improbable run take them all the way the NCAA Tournament. Most of the key players from that team are still
there - including center Reggie Evans and guard Luke Recker, who form the best one-two punch in the league. Iowa was
supposed to compete for a Big Ten title, and this is its final chance to live up to expectations.
No. J Mihiga
The Wolverines limped into the tournament with six straight losses. But yesterday's impressive first-round victory has
Tommy Amaker's team dreaming big. The Wolverines are clearly a longer shot at this championship than most. The other
seven teams have been assured of at least an NIT berth, but Michigan knows that its season will be on the line every time
it takes the floor. Last season, Amaker led his disappointing Seton Hall team to the Big East Tournament semifinals.
Why they can win:
LaVell Blanchard had his best game of the season yesterday, scoring 26 points on 9-of-14 from the floor. If Blanchard can
continue to perform like the All-American everyone expected him to be last summer, Michigan could surprise some peo-
ple. The Wolverines also got a fortunate draw. They won't have to worry about preparing a gameplan for Ohio State, since
the two met just last weekend in Crisler.

All college basksetball, all the time


Indiana vs. Michigan State
Florida State vs. No. 1Maryland
Iowa vs. Wisconsin
Virginia vs. North Carolina State
Holy Cross vs. American
Michigan vs. No.17 Ohio State

11:30 am
2 p.m.
2 p.m.
4:30 p.m.
6:40 p.m.



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