Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Fan's Guide to Big Ten Tournament at MSG

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Fan's Guide to Big Ten Tournament at MSG

Article excerpt

So the Big Ten Tournament is coming to the Big Apple. The conferences coaches might detest this — Commissioner Jim Delany ruined the league's schedule to jam his showcase event into mid-major championship week — but fans are going to love it.

Nevermind that this isn't the Big Ten's finest season; it ranks sixth in conference RPI and might send just four of 14 teams to the NCAA Tournament. Madison Square Garden should be packed, and there's no better place to watch high-stakes college basketball.

Here's quick rundown for fans, and remember, no matter how poorly your team plays or how much a beer costs, it could have been worse. You could have been stuck at the Barclays Center.

BEST MASCOT: Nothing screams heartland sports like an unhinged-looking guy in a hardhat wielding a sledgehammer. Purdue Pete is perfect.

WORST MASCOT: Minnesota's "Goldy Gopher" looks like an extra from a failed Nickelodeon show, not something to rally a crowd when your team's on a 10-0 run (which Minnesota never is anyway).

MOST LIKELY TO THROW DOWN A MONSTER DUNK: Hold on to your popcorn when Michigan State wing Miles Bridges gets free in transition. The guy is a freak.

MOST LIKELY TO SEND THE BALL INTO THE SEATS: If you're sitting courtside, keep your eyes on the ball when Michigan State's Jaren Jackson Jr. is on defense. The freshman has swatted a Big Ten-leading 102 shots this year — 3.4 per game.

MOST LIKELY TO DRAIN A BIG FREE THROW: Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon is shooting 89 percent on the season and just swished 34 in a row. He intentionally missed the 35th, so he wouldn't break the program record set by Chris Street, who died in a car accident as a junior in 1993.

MOST LIKELY TO NEED OXYGEN: Maryland guard Anthony Cowan is averaging 37.0 minutes per game, nearly two minutes more than the next-closest Big Ten player.

MOST LIKELY TO GET HECKLED (coach): Your average Russian bot might be more popular (and certainly more productive) than Minnesota's Richard Pitino. After the Gophers rose to 12th in The Associated Press Top 25 in November, his program nosedived on the court and embarrassed the university off it.

MOST LIKELY TO GET HECKLED (official): After whistling 402 fouls during Rutgers-Illinois Sunday, all with his overwrought gesticulations, "TV" Teddy Valentine is ready for the World's Most Famous Arena. …

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