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Basketball Mon Mar 22 2010

Big Ten bullies: A recap of the opening rounds of the NCAA tournament

GetBinary.ashx.jpegIf you chose No.14 Ohio to rout No.3 Georgetown in the opening round of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament, nice pick. If you selected No.10 Saint Mary's to subdue No.2 Villanova in the following round, good for you. And if you picked No.9 Northern Iowa to overwhelm No.1 Kansas last Saturday, give yourself a big pat on the back.

I, on the other hand, wasn't as fortunate and am now left with a busted bracket. But then again, they don't call it "March Madness" for nothing.

Thanks to this years's tournament being one of the weakest in terms of skill, it's more difficult than ever to choose an indisputable winner. With the sudden (and shocking) depart of Kansas, Kentucky and Syracuse are the two teams left with the most talent. That's not to say, however, that they can't be beat. If the first two rounds have taught us anything, it's that the Davids' aren't backing down to the Goliaths' anytime soon.

In preparation for the Sweet 16, here is a quick recap of how the Big Ten faired in the opening rounds of the tournament:

Friday's results
Michigan State 70, New Mexico St. 67
Ohio State 68, UC Santa Barbara 51
Purdue 72, Siena 64
Wisconsin 53, Wofford 49
Xavier 65, Minnesota 54

Sunday's results
Cornell 87, Wisconsin 69
Michigan State 85, Maryland 83
Ohio State 75, Georgia Tech 66
Purdue 63, Texas A&M 61, OT

So there you have it. Despite the loss of Minnesota and Wisconsin (in disgraceful form), the Big Ten has established itself as one of the premier conferences in the tournament. While Purdue was expected to be upset early by No.13 Siena, the Boilermakers have surprised everybody with their play despite losing star junior star Robbie Hummel to a torn ACL earlier this year. Behind the play of Big Ten Conference player of the year Evan Turner, however, Ohio State has its best chance of returning to the Final Four since Greg Oden and Mike Conley, Jr. took the Buckeyes there two years ago.

And while it looked like Tom Izzo's Spartan squad was going to give the Buckeyes a run for their money in the midwest region final, it took a major hit when an MRI exam confirmed junior point guard Kalin Lucas will miss the remainder of the tournament with a ruptured Achilles tendon.

Ahh, March Madness. It just wouldn't be the same without the thrills and excitement now, would it? Let's just hope the Sweet 16 is as intoxicating as the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament.

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