The Other B1Gs: A Look at the Sweet 16 Matchups for Indiana, Michigan and Michigan State

By Chad Peltier on March 26, 2013 at 5:00p

In a year where there are multiple "very good" teams, but no single team has separated itself from the rest, the Big Ten can lay claim to the most elite college basketball conference.

I'll still take Craft as a defender, thoughOladipo leads the top-seeded Hoosiers

While the Mountain West is the best conference according to the dubious RPI metric, the conventional wisdom is that the B1G is far and away the most talented conference this season.

Which is only fair because we're forced to watch Iowa football in the fall.

Indiana, Michigan, and Michigan State join the B1G Tournament-winning Buckeyes in the Sweet 16, giving the Big Ten the most Sweet 16 teams of any conference (the Big East is second with three). 

It has been a crazy season with multiple changes and upsets at the top, but three of those Big Ten teams – Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio State – began the season in the top 10 and now find themselves in the Sweet 16. 

It's possible that all four teams could make the Final Four. While Vegas seems to only like Indiana and Ohio State this week, Duke and Kansas are only narrowly favored against Michigan State and Michigan, respectively. 

Further, Jeff Borzello would re-seed Michigan, Michigan State, and Indiana in his top five, and the experts at CBS only pick Michigan State to lose this week. 

However, and as I've said all season, none of this conference praise matters if a B1G team doesn't manage to take the whole damn thing (and really, only the Buckeyes matter). 

So how does it look for our conference brethren? Let's take a more in-depth look: 

No. 1 Indiana vs. No. 4 Syracuse

Indiana Hoosiers #1 Indiana 29-6, 1st Big Ten Roster | Schedule 9:45 PM ET - CBS —— Verizon Center Washington, DC Syracuse Orange #4 Syracuse 26-9, 5th Big East Roster | Schedule

Temple played the Hoosiers tight for most of the game, with Indiana coach Tom Crean resorting to prayer on the bench before watching his team close on a 10-0 run to end the Owls' season.

Bad games were contagious, as Syracuse didn't fare too much better against 12-seed Cal either. The Orange made all of six field goals in the second half, missed 15 free throws, and suffered a 12-minute drought, but somehow managed to advance.

The two keys for the top-seed Hoosiers will be in stopping junior forward C.J. Flair – the Orange's top scorer, averaging 15.5 per game in the tourney – and knocking down shots against the Syracuse 2-3 zone defense. 

It will be strength on strength as the Hoosiers' third-rated offense takes on the Syracuse defense, currently forcing opponents into a meager 37.3 percent from the field. Oladipo and Zeller are complemented by surging role players like Will Sheehey, leading to a balanced offense that will be difficult for the Orange to contain. 

It's somewhat of a statistical coincidence, but Indiana got its first win while scoring under 60 points this season when it faced Temple last Sunday. While Indiana is certainly not invincible, I like the Hoosiers' chances against a somewhat overrated Syracuse squad. 

No. 3 Michigan Vs. No. 1 Kansas

Kansas Jayhawks #1 Kansas 31-5, 1st Big 12 Roster | Schedule 7:37 PM ET - TBS —— Cowboys Stadium Arlington, TX Michigan Wolverines #4 Michigan 28-7, 4th Big Ten Roster | Schedule

Even though Vegas likes the Jayhawks, Michigan looked strong in their matchup with VCU, with the seasoned Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. solving the "Havoc" press with ease.

Kansas has yet to play a truly complete game in the tournament, however, Buckeye fans know how dangerous the Jawhawks can be – particularly Ben McLemore and Travis Releford. Even with three unimpressive halves, they completely dominated North Carolina in the second half of last week's matchup.

Furthermore, Michigan proved during the course of the season that it can be dangerous even with inconsistent play from Trey Burke.

This is a matchup of two inconsistent teams and it's difficult to make a convincing argument that one will completely dominate the other.

Shouldn't be too difficult to cheer for MSU and the B1G in this matchup Izzo and Coach K are set to do battle this week

Mark Snyder argues that the difference will be in the Jayhawks' defense and experience, with center Jeff Withey pushing things in Kansas' favor: 

Kansas' senior center might be the country's best defensive player with his 7-foot-3 wingspan...He's the primary reason Kansas leads the nation in defensive field-goal percentage, allowing just 36% shooting, and showed it Sunday, even floating out to block a 19-foot jump shot and forcing a missed dunk simply by his presence.

Big Ten rooting interests aside, we will all be Jawhawks this Friday night.

No. 3 Michigan State vs. No. 2 Duke

Duke #2 Duke 31-5, 2nd ACC Roster | Schedule 9:45 PM ET - CBS —— Lucas Oil Stadium Indianapolis, IN Michigan State Spartans #3 Michigan State 27-8, 2nd Big Ten Roster | Schedule

Duke is almost unanimously favored in this matchup that features two elite, national championship-winning coaches. 

Michigan State and Tom Izzo are no strangers to the Sweet 16, but they are going up against a higher-ranked, athletically-superior Duke squad, albeit one that was unable to clinch the ACC title.

The Spartans have already faced an athletic squad in Memphis, where they won easily by 22 points. 

The biggest problem for Michigan State will be in slowing down the Duke offense, which averages almost 78 points per game – good enough for ninth in the country. They hope to slow down Duke in the same way:

"A lot of people thought Memphis would turn the game into a track meet and we would be left in the dust," point guard Keith Appling said. "They were athletic, but at the same time, we have athletes as well. Adreian is one of the best athletes in the country I feel like, and we pretty much made them play our game."

The key will be in shutting down Mason Plumlee and Duke's outside game. Duke will likely win on three-pointers, as its inside game and offensive rebounding are poor (245th in the country). 

If I'm forced to make a call in these three games, I'll take only Indiana to advance with Ohio State to the Elite Eight. 


Comments Show All Comments

RedStorm45's picture

Duke looked awful against Creighton.  A Sparty win won't be a surprise.
I think UM beats KU (unfortunately), unless McGary gets in foul trouble like he did against Zeller and IU.  McLemore has been non-existent and it seems like the Michigan guards have turned it around after struggling to the regular season finish line.

bhartman13's picture

I also think MSU is in good shape against Duke.  The Spartans aren't playing great, but they have a good defense and bigs that can handle Plumlee.  I think MSU takes this one but it should come down to the last minute.
I actually think KU is in good shape against scUM.  The Jayhawks have Withey to keep McGary off the boards and Mitch won't be getting a ton of easy put backs.  Also McLemore is due for a big night and in my opinion the scUM defense is ripe for the picking.  
I'm not a fan of Cuse at all and believe IU is on their way to Atlanta.  IU has the shooters to beat the zone defense and the size to get a bunch of offensive rebounds.  
I think tOSU and IU make the Final Four, with MSU just coming up short, and scUM falling to KU in Sweet 16.

yrro's picture

All I know is that I can see all of these games going either way without one team having to play out of their mind or horribly. Some darn good basketball coming up this weekend.

Hovenaut's picture

Think scUM is due to revert back to defensive mediocrity, KU is too balanced.

Also think IU might have it a little tougher than the pundits think. It wouldn't surprise me if the Orange advance.....Boeheim has the edge on the Creanster when it comes to spectacles and weird hair.

I know everyone is back on the Duke wagon with Ryan Kelly back, but I don't discount Tom Tourney. Think Sparty pulls the upset there.

EvanstonBuckeye's picture

While I think that UM's defense was spotty at times in B1G play, Kansas is helter-skelter right now and the Wolverines (with the exception of the one MSU game) compete. In short, they won't fold like the completely undisciplined North Carolina team did in the second half Sunday. I think it's important for McGary to make an impact from 12-15 feet, pulling Withey out to open up the lane. If he challenges Withey, it could lead to quick, easy buckets for KU, which would spell disaster for Michigan. I see Michigan winning by four, but they'll have to show some control that I haven't seen consistently this year.

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Yep, I can see the team up North getting beat, Sparty winning along with Indiana.  I think we'll see 3 of the 8 teams in the Elite 8 from the B1G. 
Go Bucks!

Menexenus's picture

Hey 11W staff:
Y U no skull session today?
I'm thinking someone fumbled...

Real fans stay for Carmen.

Menexenus's picture

Nevermind.  Just saw Johnny's apology.  And for the record, don't sweat it, bro.  Lots of other primo 11W content to savor today.

Real fans stay for Carmen.

AndyVance's picture

In honor of the Buckeyes' (and B1G's) Sweet 16 appearance this week, my wife and I are watching basketball movies each night until tipoff Thursday. Tonight was Hoosiers; tomorrow night is Glory Road.
I'm so jacked up on sports movies right now...

hail2victors9's picture

Big Ten rooting interests aside, we will all be Jawhawks this Friday night.

WHAT??!??  C'mon, man.
It's okay.  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't rooting for Iona and ISU last weekend, and I'll be rooting for Arizona. 
As I've mentioned before, conference pride is something of a consolation prize, for me.  My allegiance in the rivalries runs much deeper.  I really don't like Indiana and pretty much hate Sparty.  However, the idea of an All-B1G final four is kind of appealing.  Plus, my buddy and I have agreed that if OSU and Michigan both make it to Atlanta, we're going to try and go.

Those who stay will be CHAMPIONS!

~Bo Schembechler

cronimi's picture

As much as it pains me, I have to agree with you -- an all-B1G Final Four would be amazing (and unprecedented, I believe). Barkley's head would explode like that guy from Scanners--