When March Madness first began, the Big Ten had the most teams entered into the tournament. Now, only two out of the nine teams are left in the tournament. The remaining two Big Ten Teams remaining are Maryland and Michigan. College Basketball fans are shocked by the disappointing performances by Big Ten teams in the tournament thus far.
Recap of Losses from the Big Ten
The Big Ten has seen heartbreak and shocking losses thus far in the tournament. The first one was Michigan State losing in the First Four against UCLA. The Big Ten had two losses in the first round, and that came from No. 2 Ohio State, who lost in a close battle to the 15th ranked Oral Roberts. Oral Roberts continues their Cinderella story as the team beats Florida to move to the Sweet 16. The second came from No 4—Purdue, who were upset by No. 13 North Texas.
But in the second round, the Big Ten has been underperforming. No Big Ten team so far has won a second-round game. Big Ten Tournament Champions No.1 Illinois were upset by No.8 Loyola Chicago on Sunday. Other losses on Sunday include No. 10 Rutgers lost by only three points to No. 2 Houston, and No 9 Wisconsin lost to No. 1 Baylor. Just recently, No. 2 Iowa got blown out by No. 7 Oregon with a final score of 95-80.
If Michigan and Maryland lose tonight, is the Big Ten Overrated?
If Michigan and Maryland both lose their games tonight, then the Big Ten, rather than being overrated, has been disappointing. The conference all season has been criticized as the hardest and best conference in all of college basketball. Teams such as Illinois, Ohio State, and Iowa have been the Big Ten’s biggest disappointments. All three of those teams were heavy favorites to make the Final Four and compete for a national championship.
Struggles from these past few days may come from the Big Ten Teams mainly playing against each other due to COVID-19 restrictions. But even then, there should be no excuse not to show up on the biggest stage and perform at a high level. The Big Ten teams performances have been disappointing to the college basketball world, and the teams have not lived up to the hype.
Many fans and analysts criticize the Big Ten’s performance in the tournament. Some are looking to find positives in the situation. Purdue Head Coach Matt Painter stated on behalf of the conference, “We had a great year this year as a conference,” he said. “From 1 to 14, it was obviously the best conference. Obviously, when you do that and get the most teams in, and then you have some really close losses, people want to push back and say, ‘Well, you didn’t maybe have quite the year that you thought.’ No, we had as great a year as a conference. You’re one point away in three different games from winning, and you don’t win.” per Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated.
Michigan Under Pressure
Now more than ever, Michigan is going to have the most pressure to win the tournament. First, Michigan is a No.1 seed and a heavy favorite to win the tournament. Second, are the only two remaining Big Ten teams left in the tournament. Tonight’s game against LSU is a statement game for both the team and the conference. Michigan is going to be without star Isaiah Liver, so other players on the team need to set up big for the Wolverines. Players Brandon Johns and Terrance Willams are players that Michigan Fans should watch out to be a key replacement for Livers per Orion Sang of the Detroit Free Press.
Michigan and Maryland both play tonight in the final games of the second round. Michigan plays against LSU at 7:10 pm, while Maryland plays against Alabama at 8:45 pm.