Tom Greene | March 12th, 2020
As promised, the 2nd Big Ten Tournament Preview article is here! Before we get started, a couple of updates.
Nebraska has added the Football team’s Backup QB- Noah Vedral and Offensive Tackle Brant Banks since the publication of Tuesday’s Article. The team was down to seven after suspending two players indefinitely. (Remember last season’s improbable run by the Huskers? They were down to that many players then!)
And, if you missed Tuesday’s article previewing the tournament up to this point, check it out here. Let’s move to Saturday and Sunday at the tournament, shall we?
Just three weeks ago, this semifinal seemed improbable. Wisconsin was in the Single-Bye group and Iowa, while having spent most of 2020 in the Top-25, has certainly had its ups and downs in the Big Ten. The league has had some improbable results, so this Semifinal isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
Wisconsin, at this point, will have won its last nine games. The “Eager Beaver” Nate Reuvers has been on a tear. Brad Davidson has quieted a crowd in the same state this tournament is being played in before.
Luka Garza, Connor McCaffrey, and the Hawkeyes haven’t been this far in the tournament before. While the prize has been won by teams playing four games in four days, this league may not allow for it this time around.
Garza and the Hawkeyes will have the lead going into the second half, but Davidson will do what he has in the past in Indiana and will send the Hawkeyes packing. But, as a consolation, the Hawkeyes will wait for Greg Gumbel to tell them where they should pack their bags, instead of simply being done for the season.
This game brought us some serious Big Ten Drama this year. Anthony Cowan Jr. quieted the Breslin Center crowd and Cassius Winston did the same at the Xfinity Center two weeks later.
Like most Big Ten games, these teams do not like one another. MSU seemingly stole the Big Ten Trophy away from the Terps when it was in Mark Turgeon‘s grasp. However, Tom Izzo‘s Spartans (And, frankly, Greg Gard‘s Badgers) have no regrets. Neither should they.
Part Three of “The Big Ten Trilogy” should provide its set of fireworks. Expect Maryland to come out swinging and have a double-digit halftime lead. But, with punch comes counterpunch. When Jalen Smith swings, Xavier Tillman Sr. will swing back and hit harder. And, if that happens, Tillman will have Winston to fall back on, unlike Smith, who has Cowan.
At this point in the tournament, experience wins out. The Spartans have an abundance of it. The Terps will still have some to learn. The Spartans advance to the Title Game.
It’s the Championship we all expected, right? Well, the bracket says so!
Both times these teams met were also thrillers. The Spartans shot down Brevin Pritzl at the Breslin, but things were different in Madison. Rocket Watts wasn’t much of a factor in these matchups, but he “Rocketed” to a leading role in Michigan State afterward. Reuvers was a leading scorer in both matchups, so was Tillman.
Needless to say, this will be an exciting championship. The Spartans will jump out to a double-digit halftime lead in what will seem to be the first time in a long time, and Wisconsin will find themselves on the comeback trail.
Will Davidson provide his magic like he presumably would on Saturday, or will Winston will the Spartans like he has time and time again? If there was wind, Bob Dylan would appreciate the answer I’d like to give, my friends.
The real answer here is that Winston has so much will that he provokes his team to do “that” much more. Sure, it may not be a PPG, RPG or APG stat, but in College Basketball, there is a lot of emotion involved, and it can only be sensed when watching throughout the whole season.
While Wisconsin makes a strong comeback, Winston and Tillman make critical free throws to give Michigan State yet another piece of hardware, 72-68.
As a Big Ten Fan, it seems like we’ve seen this movie before. But, the script isn’t written until the games are played. We will see an abundance of Big Ten Teams playing past this weekend in meaningful games. We will see a lot of fireworks at this tournament. If you have a popcorn maker, you will need to have it work overtime, with extra butter!
And also, I’d like to send a prayer out to a personal friend going through a bout with Cancer. He wishes to remain anonymous as he’s a very reserved man (Who is not on Social Media) with reserved people in his life (like me!), but I will release his initials on here, and they are P.B.
As you watch the tournament, send a prayer out for P.B. It’s highly appreciated.
Enjoy the Big Ten Tournament, folks!
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Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images