So maybe Selection Sunday gave us a teensy bit more drama than we would have liked, but the Buckeyes are in the field, as a 10 seed, facing off against the Virginia Commonwealth Rams, way out west. The selection committee didn't think so highly of Ohio State's resume, thanks to their relative paucity of quality wins, but the advanced metrics still like Ohio State. Vegas doesn't hate them either, giving them far better odds than the other double digit seeds in the tournament.
Sure, it's fun to imagine the Buckeyes entering in all of their unused NBA Jam cheat codes and blowing through the tournament on their way to a Final Four run, but perhaps that isn't the most realistic. So what *is* a realistic best case scenario for Ohio State? And what about the rest of the Big Ten, which includes a legitimate Final Four threat and multiple intriguing squads?
Glad you asked. Let's break it down.
Best case scenario: VCU wants to press teams into oblivion, creating transition baskets and forcing teams into inefficient basketball. Ohio State breaks that press thanks to sure handed efforts from Shannon Scott and D'angelo Russell, attacking VCU's smaller lineups and getting to the basket for high percentage shots. That creates open shots for Marc Loving, and the Buckeyes win relatively comfortably. Inspired by this effort, the Buckeyes finally score an upset for the ages over a disinterested Arizona team that struggles to make shots. Ohio State faces an upstart BYU team in the Sweet 16, prevailing in the Matt Brown Super Bowl in a highly entertaining up and down game, before falling to Wisconsin again in the Elite Eight. Amir Williams dunks at least three times.
Worst case scenario: The press works, forcing Ohio State to fall behind by 13 in the first half, before working up their customary "come back to fall just short" plan in the second half. Ohio State misses 20 three pointers, Marc Loving has to get benched, and the Rams win by 11. Wisconsin wins a national championship, and D'Angelo Russell declares for the draft before even leaving the locker room out of frustration. Amir Williams does not dunk.
Okay, that seems reasonable enough. But what about the rest of the Big Ten?
Best case scenario: The Badgers ride their dominating death machine of an office to a relatively uncontested Final Four berth, using their dominating size and shooting from every position to give them space over Oregon, UNC and Arizona. After being bumped up as the only team that could possibly pose a threat to Kentucky for at least a month, the Badgers actually beat Kentucky thanks to Sam Dekker threeball in the closing moments, cementing this Wisconsin team in history forever and ever. Their championship win over Virginia is almost an afterthought. Bo Ryan appears like a likable figure for at least six minutes.
Worst case scenario: Wisconsin has a poor shooting day, Kaminsky gets intro foul trouble, and Wisconsin is flustered as they're force to play above their preferred pace against North Carolina. The Tar Heels grab a close victory, Wisconsin's entire team goes pro, and Kentucky wins the championship after beating everybody by double digits.
Best case scenario: Bursting with confidence after getting into the tournament as a relatively secure selection after months of living on the Bubble, Purdue attacks the Cincinnati Bearcats right off the start, getting timely three point shooting to go with their customary tough interior defense. Cincinnati can't score at all, and Purdue wins by double digits. They then keep things close with Kentucky for about a half, just long enough for the UHH...KENTUCKY? tweets to start, before the Wildcats blow the doors open. Indiana loses in the first round.
Worst case scenario: A.J Hammons gets into immediate foul trouble, Purdue can't hit any threes, and the Boilermakers are dragged into a slow, ugly, completely unwatchable slugfest that they ultimately lose by four. Indiana and Notre Dame both win multiple games.
Best case scenario: The Hawkeyes are able to use their superior size to fend off popular upset pick Davidson, then outmuscling Gonzaga for a sweet 16 rematch against in-state rival Iowa State. The Threesus God abandons Iowa State, the Hawkeyes get a few good pokes in that are unnoticed by the officials, and Iowa rides to the Elite Eight before falling admirably to Duke.
Worst case scenario: Aaron White gets into foul trouble, Davidson shoots the lights out, and their extremely efficient offense is more than Iowa can keep up with, and the Hawkeyes lose a close game. Iowa State makes the Final Four.
Best case scenario: Yogi Ferrell and James Blackmon go off, using their superior athleticism to win a close, extremely exciting first round game against the underseeded Wichita State Shockers. Indiana gives Kansas a healthy scare in the second round, and Tom Crean jokes blissfully subside for at least a few hours.
Worst case scenario: The Shockers win by 16 points. Notre Dame makes an Elite Eight, Purdue wins their first game. Twitter search "Tom Crean" yields tens of thousands of angry tweets.
Best case scenario: After once again successfully playing Rope a Dope for most of the seasons, the Spartans continue their peak at just the right time, aided by a relatively weak region. Michigan State clobbers Georgia, outshoots a wounded Virginia team, and knocks off Villanova to earn a trip to the Final Four. Valentine, Trice and Dawson take turns carrying the team, and Izzo gets at least two features written about him leading into Final Four weekend.
Worst case scenario: After sleepwalking through a close Georgia win, the Spartans are crushed by Virginia's defense, as they struggle with turnovers and long twos, before failing 55-45 in a game that wasn't nearly as close as the final score indicated.
Oh yeah, Maryland is in the Big Ten too! Sorry guys!
Best case scenario: Despite being a popular upset pick, the Terps crush Valpo, and comfortably take care of West Virginia thanks to their explosive backcourt. Kentucky is beat up after a slugfest of a game against Purdue, and Maryland takes the Wildcats to the seven minute mark before finally falling in a close game.
Worst case scenario: Melo Trimble gets frustrated by Valpo's slow play, turning the ball over repeatedly as the Terps struggle offensively. The eek out an inspiring win, only to get upset by a surging Buffalo team in the next round. Duke wins the championship.
What do you think? Could another Big Ten team make a surprisingly deep tourney run?