A taste of March Madness at the Big Ten tournament
By Jeff Mayfield
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[March 13, 2014]
INDIANAPOLIS — Well, the LDN crew is at
the Big Ten tournament in Indy this week, not really knowing what to
expect. The No. 9-seeded Illinois Fighting Illini will tangle with
the home team, the No. 8-seeded Hoosiers of Indiana. It is safe to
say that nobody saw either team this low in the standings, but here
will the Illini fare in this contest? It is really hard to tell. On
the one hand, Illinois has really played well lately. They somehow
found late-season road wins at Michigan State, at Minnesota and at
Iowa! I know what you're thinking... I never would've believed it
either. In fact, I'm so jaded, I think that if we would've really
needed those games to get a better NCAA seed, we never would've won
any of those games.
To say the least, the league had one of the
weirdest ebb and flows I have ever witnessed. First, home teams
couldn't lose — even Illinois went 2-0 to begin league play. Then
road teams couldn't lose. Then favorites couldn't win. Then Michigan
pulled away and won it all. I'm not saying that all the parts and
pieces don't add up, but.... all the parts and pieces don't add up.
I didn't see Michigan winning the league title in easy fashion. I
didn't see Nebraska finishing that high. I didn't see us losing to
Purdue and Northwestern... and on and on goes the craziness. Guess
that's why they call it madness.
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So, as to how the Illini will fare versus Indiana? I haven't a
clue. Illinois surprised and outlasted IU in overtime in
Champaign on Dec. 31. I still say it was the greatest New Year's
Eve I've ever spent. Indiana outlasted the Illini in Bloomington
in a game that was there for the taking.
The Hoosiers get to play basically a home game. They've had such
a disappointing season that they really need to win this game to try
to salvage their season. They are due for a better performance than
they have had of late. But Illinois could surprise them. Maybe
Illinois will play that really special game that has eluded them for
much of the season. Maybe they'll have that good shooting game
they've been seeking for quite some time.
All I know is that I'm ready to watch a few days of
basketball... and yes, that's why they call it March Madness!
[By JEFF MAYFIELD]
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