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Winning the B1G Tourney from a 5/6 seed...

M Man's picture
March 12, 2014 at 2:18pm

In another thread, I said that I looked forward to the day that a Big Ten team rose from a 5+ seed to win the tournament.  D'oh!  Where was I in 2001, when the Iowa Hawkeyes, led by former IU great Steve Alford, did just that?

So here is how the Buckeyes might do it this year.  You need to be lucky, basically.

The 2000-01 Hawkeyes came into the B1G Tourney ranked #24 in the country.  Michigan State, the then-defending national champs, were ranked #3.  Illinois had just won the B1G regular-season championship and the Illini were ranked #4.  Indiana was #20, and below Iowa in the rankings was Wisconsin at #25.

[There is a reason 2000-2001 was erased from my memory.  Michigan, under the forgettable Brian Ellerbe, opened the season with a loss to neighbor Oakland University -- the basketball equivalent of Appalachian State -- and went on to an overall record of 10-18 (4-13 in the Conference), and was seeded 10th in the 11-team tournament.]

Seeding in the 2001 Big Ten Tournament had Iowa as a six-seed, playing the 11-seed Northwestern.  The Hawkeyes destroyed the Wildcats on Thursday, 72-65.

On Friday, the Hawkeyes beat the 3-seed team with a bye; the Ohio State University Buckeyes, 75-66.  Huh?  The same day, Penn State upset the mighty Spartans (2-seed) by a basket, 65-63.  The biggest win in the history of Penn State basketball.  MSU later went on to its third consecutive Final Four a couple of weeks later.

So on Saturday, Iowa took on Penn State and ran them out of the United Center, 94-74.  Their third win in three days.  Iowa got more help that day, when Indiana upset the 1-seed Illini, 58-56.

It set up the 2001 championship game on Sunday between the 4-seed Indiana and the 6-seed Iowa.  Pretty much of an even match, on a neutral court.  But Iowa had played three games in the previous three days, and Indiana had only played two.  Still, led by former Hoosier Steve Alford, Iowa won 63-61 as a final 3-point shot to win for Indiana was blocked by Iowa.

The lesson; get lucky.  Iowa won from the bottom by never having to play a seed higher than 3 (OSU).  They beat 11-, 3-, 7- and 4-seeds to win it all.

You need to root for Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin to go down early.  And what a stretch that must be, for all of you...




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