It’s hard to believe that such a competitive season has culminated to this. One tournament, the week before the big dance. For the first time in it’s history, the B1G Tourney has sold out before play even starts. We have seen some great opening round games the last few years, that have set up teams to a championship game run. Today, we don’t expect much different. We have a slate full of competitive games with huge implications on the line. Here is a look at today’s opening round games with a short preview of what to expect on the hardwood in Chicago in the opening round.
#8 Illinois vs. #9 Minnesota
This will be a hard game to figure out; both teams come in with similar records and both play schizophrenic (due respect to those diagnosed) basketball. Illinois comes into this game losers of 3 of their last 4 games. Further, they have failed to cover the spread in their last five games, meaning they won by fewer than expected and lost by more than expected. Not exactly the performance of a team peaking for post-season. These teams split the season series, so this game is the tie breaker with the opportunity to play #1 seed Indiana in next round.
Illinois is led in the backcourt by Brandon Paul (G, 6’4”, 15.7 ppg, 2.8 apg) and in the frontcourt by Nnanna Egwu (F/C, 6’11”, 6.6 ppg, 4.7 rpg). Minnesota is led in the backcourt by Andre Hollins (G, 6’1”, , 3.5 apg) and in the frontcourt by Trevor Mbakwe (F, 6’8”, 10.0 ppg, 8.7 rpg). Both teams shoot about the same, but Minnesota is a far superior rebounding team (Off Reb % of 44.3), although they are far more prone to turn the ball over (21% of possessions). Best bet for a good game is for Paul to light it up from long range paint while Mbakwe has his way in the paint. Minnesota is favored by 2, sounds about right.
Tip-off is at 12 Noon EST on BTN.
With basketball season rapidly approaching and a lot of information to digest from around the conference, I thought it was high time we here from bloggers representing them. We kick off a series in roundtables with our first five today and we are doing our very best to round up the rest of the B1G for you! We hope you enjoy the feature and give us plenty of feedback!
We’re doing our best attempt at giving everyone a good picture of each team with a variety of questions. I want to take this opportunity to thank our first four panelist; Covering Purdue and a great video guy that you can catch here exclusively to tBBC at times, WCBI TV’s own Robby Donoho and his latest video ; covering Spartan Nation is one of the best in that state up north in Hondo Carpenter; taking care of the Hoosiers for us from Crimson Quarry is John M. featured blogger for them and very well respected in the state just west of us; getting us straight with Bucky Badger will be Andy from Mad Town Badgers a great blog for Wisconsin; and finally but certainly not least, my old writing partner here at tBBC and current Buckeye Empire member Joe Dexter.
Hondo S. Carpenter Sr.. Spartan Nation. Keith Appling (G) is a key player back for the Spartans. He is Tom Izzo’s “guy” on this team and with that comes a lot of minutes. Not a natural point, that is the only spot he could play at the next level and Izzo is committed to him playing there.
Adreian Payne (C) is a native of Ohio and if you are a Buckeye fan, you would think he is all world. Against the Buckeyes he lives up to the hype he had coming out of high school. Against every other team, he is a key role player.
Derrick Nix (C) is the best of the MSU big men. Not as athletic as Payne, he can bang with anyone and take the ball and the game to the rim.
Branden Dawson (F/G) is listed by MSU as a G, but he is a SF. He is the real deal. Arguably, Dawson is the best player on the team. He suffered a late season injury, but he will for sure be 100% by conference play. They say before that, but MSU in my opinion has a history of rushing players back too fast. He is too valuable with too much basketball ahead of him to rush it. He is a complete player. Read More