It has to be considered a disappointing weekend for the Big Ten, with only Ohio State marching on. Not a disaster by any means. Not when five teams won first-round games. And three second-round underdogs gave the favorites a severe case of the jitters before falling. But only producing one Sweet 16 team in a year with two national powers and a few others who at least had the grit to be surprises does put the conference on the negative side of the ledger.
No one is more disappointed right now then the folks in Madison. I felt like you could see Wisconsin's loss coming. Of the high seeds in the tournament, the Badgers were the most vulnerable. The injury to Brian Butch meant that this team was really not the same one as the squad that posted the best basketball season in school history. UNLV was a very good team and Lon Kruger knows Big Ten styles from his days at Illinois. Even knowing all that though, you can't be a #2 seed and not feel the sting of an early NCAA exit. Michael Hunt at The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes of how the UW slips showed up in the end.
People in the basketball capital of the world in Indiana had reason to be pleased with their teams. Indiana and Purdue each won their first-round games. The Hoosiers took revenge on Gonzaga, while Purdue knocked out talented, but inconsistent Arizona. Both teams showed plenty of heart on the weekend. IU rallied from 16 down to tie UCLA before falling in the end. The Boilermakers gave Florida all they could handle. Jeff Washburn at Boiler Station writes how this was Purdue's M.O. all year against top teams--gave 'em all they could handle for 35 minutes, but not quite enough to close the sale. They still closed more sales then anyone could have expected, and it looks like Purdue basketball is finally back on the map. Indiana's also back on the map. They now await what's going to happen with D.J. White as he weighs his options.
Michigan State beat Marquette, and threw a tough fight against North Carolina. The Spartans are excited about 2008 and thinking title. Illinois has an ugly taste in its mouth after a late collapse cost them a game against Virginia Tech, and cost the conference a sweep of its first-round games. Herb Gould of The Chicago Sun Times writes that Weber will surely catch some heat, and questions about his recruiting remain--but there's no question he can coach.
Bob Knight made his record 28th NCAA appearance, but didn't stay long. The Red Raiders got more offense then they are accustomed to, but Boston College exploited their defense in an 84-75 win. While the loss was disappointing--and Knight has to be wondering what BC has on him, that they have bounced him from the NCAAs three times since 1994--this was still a Red Raider team that overachieved in rebounding from the coach's first losing season in eons.