Heading into the NCAA Tournament, the Big 12 led the conference RPI ratings, slightly ahead of the Big East. The ACC was third, followed inexplicably by the SEC and finally the Big Ten, holding down the fifth spot.
After an opening weekend of upsets befitting the "madness" moniker, it's the Big Ten flexing its muscles, however. Four of the five selections from the slow and plodding conference advanced to the second round and three of them -- the most of any conference -- clawed their way to the Sweet Sixteen.
The Buckeyes, of course, slipped past a sloppy Georgia Tech team on Sunday afternoon and were quickly joined in the next round by the Spartans, who used a Korie Lucious three at the buzzer to beat Maryland and Purdue, getting similar heroics out of Chris Kramer, dropped Texas A&M in OT.
Looking ahead a bit, both the Buckeyes and Spartans find themselves in a regional without Kansas all of a sudden, thanks to scrappy Northern Iowa. The Buckeyes run up against Tennessee, the team they beat in 2007 to advance to the Elite Eight in the early game on Friday, while both Michigan State and Purdue play in late games that day. The Spartans will face Northern Iowa and even without Kalin Lucas, you have to give the edge to Izzo's crew on talent alone (just don't tell that to the Jayhawks). Purdue gets Duke and though they've faced some questions as they've battled without Robbie Hummel, we're going to find out just how paper of a tiger the Blue Devils are. Besides, how hard is it to root against Duke?
Realistically, the conference could get two teams into the Elite Eight. The two I'm envisioning, the Buckeyes and Spartans, will play each other in the next round, so there's little hope for the conference to pull a pair for the Final Four (unless Purdue catches fire), but even putting two in the round of eight is enough to give Digger Phelps an upset stomach for a day or two, so there's that.
State of the Site
Corey has been with the site since the early days -- back when we only had three readers instead of the 12 we currently have -- and has covered everything from basketball previews to keeping tabs on Buckeyes in the NFL or opining on the relative strengths of offensive line units. Outside of the blog, he's equally as busy helping to run his family's business and it's reached the point where the business has grown to the point where he'll have to peel back his duties around these parts to ensure his dad can get that solid gold cigarette boat he's always wanted.
He's going to finish out the basketball season and might contribute in some manner down the road, but effective the end of the tournament, he'll be assuming the role of Blogger Emeritus at 11W Industries. We're sad to see him move on, but know he's promised to deliver season tickets to us all if the does as well as they think it will. If you get a chance, be sure to wish him good luck.
In that vein, we will be looking to fill his position on our staff. We're not quite sure when we want to have it filled, but by the start of football season seems to make some sense. If think you'd like to contribute to the cause, shoot us a note with a writing sample and your best fart jokes.
In other site news, we reached out to That Hippie Up North last fall for some tips on how to migrate our current WordPress rig to the Drupal setup he has (except without all of the piss-colored links). We've been hard at work on this and hope to have it 11W 3.0 out before the start of football season. Many of the features present at MGoBlog, such as user karma, diaries (but with a less wimpy name), forums, the end of handle-jacking and a Good Shizzy section that you can actually contribute to (and comment on) and more. If you have any tips for us, we'd love to hear them, but in the meantime, prepare to get in and get that fresh username.
Early shout-out to comoprozac and his entry in the 11W Tournament Challenge. His 510 points are good enough for a 30 point lead on 2nd place and the rest of the pack and his 1240 possible points remaining are also tops in the group. Best of all, he's got the Buckeyes winning it all.
Incidentally, the #1 bracket among millions submitted to ESPN also has the Buckeyes cutting down the nets. I'm going to go ahead and take that as a good sign.