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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Big Ten Champs Grab A 3-Seed

Wisconsin will ride a 10-game winning streak into the NCAA Tournament as a 3-seed in the Midwest region. The Badgers will play Thursday versus Big West champion Cal-State Fullerton (24-8) in Omaha, NE.

I think the Badgers had a legitimate argument to be a #2 over either Duke or Texas based on performance in the last 10 games, but I'm not surprised that the Big Ten seedings were down in general. Wisconsin's thorough domination of Illinois to capture the Big Ten Tournament title did not come into play during the seeding process of course, thus Georgetown's loss to Pittsburgh and Texas' loss to Kansas could not drop them below the Badgers.

Still, UW fared better than other Big Ten teams. CBS' Seth Davis felt fifth-seeded Michigan State was a likely upset candidate, while Purdue fell to a 6-seed. The crumbling Indiana Hoosiers were given an 8-seed and Ohio State saw its bubble burst Sunday afternoon.

Looking ahead, I hope Michael Flowers has the chance to shut down freshman phenom O.J. Mayo. For the record, Wisconsin should advance to the Sweet 16 against either USC or Kansas State in my opinion, but first they will have to get past the 14th-seeded Titans, who have a shutdown defender of their own.

I'm still a little bummed about not getting third shot at Purdue this past weekend. As a consolation, UW has captured both conference championships in the same season for the first time ... hopefully the first of many conference trophy sweeps. More importantly, at 29-4, Wisconsin has every opportunity to win 30 games for the second year in a row and break the school record set last season.

The game also featured a couple of plays that are quickly becoming Wisconsin trademarks. Just as Jim Nance and Billy Packer were discussing the early days of NCAA basketball being financed by NCAA boxing income, Krabbenhoft laid out an Illinois guard with another vicious pick. It was the very same kind that knocked Eric Gordon down and temporarily made thousands of Illini supporters become Badger fans. Secondly, inbounding from under the opponent's basket against full-court pressure, Michael Flowers threw the ball off of the back of unsuspecting Calvin Brock to start an unlikely fast break.

The Badgers, Flowers in particular, routinely proved Packer clueless during the game by burying 3-pointers. Wisconsin hit 9-of-18 treys and only shot two free throws [box score]. Marcus Landry was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player and was joined on the all-tournament team by Flowers, who added three more steals against Illinois.

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Off-topic, today was my first exposure to the very sweet new Pontiac G8 GT commercial which recreates the old Spy Hunter video game. Two thumbs up!

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