Friday quarterfinals: Illinois vs. Northwestern winner; Indiana vs. Minnesota; Michigan State vs. Iowa winner; Wisconsin vs. Ohio State winner.
First up, Scout's Basketball Writer Frank Burleson has this tournament preview for you...
Best potential non-championship matchup: Ohio State, in each round. The Buckeyes are trying to make a big statement, comparable to the one they made in Columbus on Sunday.The Cats had an interesting time with the Fighting Illini this year - up in Evanston, the Cats lost a tough home game to a team that seemed to be able to turn their game on and off. Down in Champaign the Illini just bombed the Cats with outside shooting.
Keep this in mind: The United Center is going to be bursting on the seems with followers of you-know-who . . . Ohio State's self-imposed ban from post-season (NCAA or NIT) means Buckeyes are aiming to be considered the best team not among the field of 65 Sunday.
Player to check out: Bracey Wright. If Indiana is going to get at least the one (vs. Minnesota) and maybe the second (vs. Illinois, undoubtedly) victory its needs for an at-large bid, the junior guard will have to be dynamic.
Projected tournament winner: Illinois over Michigan State. The Illini will bounce back from their first loss in very impressive fashion.
At-large Land: Illinois will be a No. 1 seed and MSU and Wisconsin are just as safely in the tournament with solid seeds. Minnesota better beat Indiana Friday if the Gophers don't want to be sweating marbles going into CBS's Selection Show.
Bill Carmody Well certainly, a lot of it was Illinois, they just made every shot, they just came out on fire and some of the shots they hit were, you know, 4 or 5They also played better defense against NU:
...we had to come out of the zone and man to man we just can't keep our bodies in front of those guys, and then...
I don't know, it seemed like each guy was hitting 3s.; Brown and Williams and Head and just continuous thru their bench.
Yeah, we didn't get the movement that we needed - every pass you had to be careful of and when that's true because they might steal it, its very stilted and you're not moving as well as you should so you have to give them credit for that. All their guys out on defending it. [Post Game Comments as reported on Purple Reign]Of course there are NU Coach Bill Carmody's comments from Monday's teleconference on Illinois.. He was asked if he saw anything in their loss to the Buckeyes that he could use...
Carmody: I don't think so.Nope, Coach didn't want to rile up the Illini any more than they're already riled up.
They missed some shots and I think all along everybody was wondering if Illinois was ever going to miss some shots because they shot extremely well this year. It doesn't seem like they had too many bad games.
And they missed something yesterday a little - but I saw what Bruce [Weber] said - maybe we didn't make the extra pass once in a while yesterday but I don't know, looking at it they got some pretty good shots that they made all year so.
I didn't see anything myself, so maybe someone else saw that but if we win on Thursday, then we play them so I'm a little more careful.
As an aside, NU won Thursday with their leading scorer [Vedran Vukusic] and leading rebounder [Davor Duvancic] on the bench. In the past, Davor has enjoyed big games against the Illini, and before he fouled out yesterday, Vedran was starting his trademark 10 minutes left run.
Vukusic has had two decent games against the Fighting Illini this year - he scored 20 back in January and 14 last month. Maybe he's an optimist, but he's quoted this morning as believing that NU can win this game. He'll have to play lights out to help make that happen this morning.But the last time we met, the Cats only made 1 of 17 from the arc, 40% from the field. The bright spot was the return of Mohamed Hachad to his expected form - Mo hit for 15 points and grabbed 8 rebounds in that game. The game was the worse loss in Bill Carmody>/b>'s history at the helm of the Wildcats.
We've got to play some perimeter defense, and make our 3s if we expect to continue play on Saturday amd earn that elusive .500 record needed for post season play this year.
Its NU vs Illinois at 11 AM Wildcat Time at the United Center in the Big 10 Tournament. The game is scheduled for ESPN - I guess we get NU Alum Brent Mussberger again.
Of course there's Dave Eanet on WGN - what's the old line - turn down the TV and listen to the Radio?
Beat 'em All!
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