We'll have some more in-depth predictions about the NCAA Tournament through the course of the next couple of days. However, after an initial, cursory glance at the brackets, here's what I see for the Big Ten teams that are in the NCAA Tournament.
First off, looking at the East bracket, which has only one of the Big Ten's seven representatives. But, it just so happens that they have the Big Ten's best team, as the Ohio State Buckeyes are the number one overall seed in the tournament. I'm going to come off as a Big Ten homer here, and I know that teams have the potential for bad days and things of that nature, but it's hard to envision a scenario where the Buckeyes don't find themselves in Houston on the first weekend in April. Right now, they appear to be simply the best and most talented team in the country, and with Jared Sullinger playing the way he's been playing, along with the contributions that the team has been getting from Jon Diebler and William Buford, this team is the surest bet of any team in the tournament, in my opinion, to make it to the Final Four.
Over in the West bracket, we have two Big Ten representatives, as we have the eighth-seeded Michigan Wolverines, and the tenth-seeded Penn State Nittany Lions. Both of these teams came on very strong at the end of the year, particularly Penn State with their run in the Big Ten tournament. I think both of these teams are capable of winning their first round games. . .Michigan will do battle with the Tennessee Volunteers, and Penn State will take on the Temple Owls. . .but they're both looking at a couple of nasty match-ups in the second round. Michigan would almost certainly be staring at the Duke Blue Devils in the round of 32, while Penn State would likely have to match up against the San Diego State Aztecs. While the West bracket currently has two Big Ten representatives, I think there's a very good chance that by the end of the first weekend, they won't have any.
Moving on to the Southwest, we see two more Big Ten teams, as the Purdue Boilermakers occupy the number three seed in the region, while the Illinois Fighting Illini are in the nine spot. The Boilermakers looked pretty bad in getting blitzed in their first game in the Big Ten tournament, but they should be able to get into the second round, where they'll likely see one of the Big East's 206 tournament entries, the Georgetown Hoyas. Georgetown would be a tough match-up for Purdue, but I still think the Boilermakers will find themselves in the Sweet 16 when it's all said and done. As far as Illinois, it depends on the play of Demetri McCarney. . .if he's on, Illinois will advance to a match-up with the Kansas Jayhawks in Round Two. If he's not, then the Illini will be one and done. I'll put them in the Sweet 16 for now, but not by much.
Lastly, we have the Southeast bracket, where the Wisconsin Badgers have the fourth seed and the Michigan State Spartans have the tenth seed. If the Badgers can get past the Belmont Bruins in the opening round, they will likely face a very tough Kansas State team in Round Two, and I'm not sure if they can get past that team. If it comes to pass, that will definitely be one of the more interesting match-ups of the second round. As far as Michigan State, they're way too up-and-down for my liking, and inconsistency in March can be a killer. I honestly don't think the Spartans will get past the UCLA Bruins in the first round, but I've been wrong before.
It's entirely possible that Ohio State will be the only Big Ten team left standing at the end of the first weekend of play. I certainly hope it's more than that, and that's where the fun part of March Madness lies. Rest assured, though, we'll have all the coverage of it for you here at SB Nation Minnesota.