Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Hughes: Big Ten Tournament through Charlie Sheen’s eyes

It may be known as “the second season” where everyone still adopts an attitude of starting over with renewed hopes, but everyone knows tournament play isn’t a separate species from the regular season.

When it comes to the postseason, momentum is everything and the special thing about it is that momentum is not exclusive to the top-seeded teams. You can find it anywhere.

Need I even present the Packers as an example? Green Bay experienced a troll of a regular season but finished it with two encouraging victories at home. Those two games spring-loaded the bottom-seeded Pack for a playoff tear en route to a championship.


And now, as the Big Ten Tournament nears for men’s basketball, it’s not about which teams lead the conference in whatever statistic. It’s about whoever is feeling like a lion and whoever is a woebegone lamb.

It’s about whoever is – I don’t know – feeling like a winner, one might say?

Despite how despairing it is to see Charlie Sheen’s winning attitude dominate news hours, you must admit his quotes are bewitching.

So here, I’ve applied some of Sheen’s delectable quotes to describe every Big Ten team’s momentum heading into the tournament.

“I got tiger blood, man.” – Ohio State

Lately, Ohio State has been the lion (excuse me, I meant to say tiger) and everyone standing in its way is the lamb.

They closed out the season with 19, 11, 21 and 28-point victories. Guard Jon Diebler has hit a stupefying 18-of-22 3-pointers in the last two games, while the Buckeyes have collectively converted 27-of-39 moneyballs.

For a team that hasn’t experienced a bad loss all year (its two losses came on the road against teams flirting with top-10 rankings), Ohio State is certainly letting out quite a bit of aggression.

Before the game at Penn State, a security guard thought it would be a good idea to notify head coach Thad Matta where he would be escorted off the court when the student section rushes the floor. Against Wisconsin, “Deal with it” towels and chants were ever-present to vex Bo Ryan.

“I’m tired of pretending I’m not a total bitchin’ rock star from Mars.” – Purdue

Over the course of a seven-game winning streak, Purdue certainly looked the part of an out-of-this-world Slash. The Boilermakers toppled then-No. 10 Wisconsin and then-No. 3 Ohio State in back-to-back games while winning by an average of about 12 points during the run.

But then Iowa surprised Purdue with a 67-65 loss in the season finale, and it’s not like the Boilermakers had nothing to play for. The possibilities of a shared Big Ten title were on the line for PU, whose game against Iowa ran concurrently with Ohio State’s.

Head coach Matt Painter criticized the team’s effort after the game, but expect the Boilermakers’ appetite to become aroused following that.

“And together it’s like, it’s on. Sorry, middle America. Yeah, I said it.” – Wisconsin

Simply put, when Wisconsin hits shots, they win. And they look good doing it.

About 41 percent of the Badgers’ shots have come from the perimeter this season, and when those shots fall, you hear Tom Izzo say things like “they could win the championship.” But when they bounce out, you find yourself shaking your head and doing a face-plant to the palm.

Performances from the arc seen against Ohio State (.375), Purdue (.158), Michigan (.276) and Iowa (.276) will drag down the Badgers and just won’t fly in a postseason atmosphere.

The Badgers’ shooting has been off and on in the past eight games. Although junior guard Jordan Taylor took control of the game against Indiana, UW’s offense is designed for team success. Several players need to be “on” for Wisconsin to be “on” in the postseason.

“I closed my eyes and made it so with the power of my mind.” – Michigan

Not many people thought they’d see Michigan in bubble talks this year, but they made it so with some solid play down the stretch, winning eight of their final 11.

The Wolverines feature four players shooting at least 42 percent from the field and two grabbing nearly six rebounds a piece per game. After sweeping rival Michigan State in the finale and NCAA prospects on the rise, Michigan can will itself into the dance and all should consider them salivating at the chance.

“I have a 10,000-year-old brain and the boogers of a 7-year-old.” – Illinois

The Fighting Illini have, at times, seemed a little schizophrenic this year. Despite having the conference’s second-best shooting percentage, they haven’t experienced consecutive wins since early January.

Nonetheless, they find themselves fumbling into the Big Ten Tournament with some steam after their finale against Indiana. Illinois responded well to the incentive of clinching a first-round bye by shooting .491 from the field and grabbing 40 rebounds in a 72-48 frolic.

“You can’t process me with a normal brain.” – Michigan State

You really can’t. In the preseason, MSU looked and sounded exactly like the Final Four team it was one year ago. But after being in crisis mode for months and seeing no resurgence whatsoever (5-8 in last 13 games, five consecutive losses against ranked opponents), it’s clearly one hell of a dog’s day for the Spartans.

However, Izzo is a master of the postseason and as his team is set to play Iowa in the first round – who Michigan State lost to in the finale – don’t be surprised if the Spartans cause some trouble. But don’t be surprised if they don’t.

…Just don’t worry about it.

“They’ll wake up one day and realize how cool dad is… we need his wisdom and his bitchin’-ness.” – Penn State

Head coach Ed DeChellis entered the 2010-11 season sitting on a hot seat, and he came out firing, dethroning the likes of Michigan State, Illinois and Wisconsin. It finally seemed like DeChellis’ players were catching on.

But those days are long gone – PSU hasn’t had any kind of resume win since late January and got thumped by OSU in a 21-point defeat a week ago.

Bubble talks haven’t ceased with PSU, but to go dancing would require a hefty run. The Lions don’t seem to have enough momentum, or the bye week, to accomplish that.

“I’m extremely old-fashioned. I’m a nobleman. I’m chivalrous.” – Northwestern

With a 7-11 conference record and after losing two of their last three, the Wildcats seem shortchanged on energy.

The conference’s third-best perimeter shooting team, Northwestern lost by 15 at Wisconsin despite a great showing and then squeaked by Minnesota after hitting 10-of-30 attempts. For a team that relies on the three-ball, that doesn’t exactly get things rolling.

This was supposed to be the year that Northwestern broke onto the dancing scene, but that doesn’t seem likely anymore. Same old Wildcats.

“All my guy friends are gonna, like, throw tomatoes at me” – Minnesota

After being ranked No. 15 in the nation at one point, the Gophers went in a nosedive to end their regular season, losing nine of their last 10 to finish ninth in the conference.

This team has a lot of momentum, and it’s pointing down. They’ll probably have more to worry about that just tomatoes being thrown at them.

“Being a ballplayer, I believe in numbers. I’m not going 0-for-4. I’m not wearing a golden sombrero.” – Iowa

Too bad for the Hawkeyes, because they’re already 0-4 in the last four years in the Big Ten Tournament.

But although the Hawkeyes lost six straight games before winning their season finale, don’t be fooled; there’s more momentum in Iowa than there is in Minnesota.

Two of those losses during that stretch came in overtime against Wisconsin and Michigan, two teams that are going to the NCAA Tournament.

Did frustration mount at their misfortune? It seems so. No. 6 Purdue was battling for a share in the Big Ten title, but Iowa finally broke through. If they don’t beat MSU in the first round, the Hawkeyes will at least make them work for it.

“It’s a silly book written by a broken-down fool.” – Indiana

You could say this team is on an eight-game losing streak or just say they’ve won three of their last 18 games (a 3-15 conference record). Either way you frame it, it’s not pretty.

Let’s just put it this way: the Hoosiers haven’t lost by less than 10 points since Feb. 19.

Elliot is a junior majoring in journalism. Who has the most momentum going into the tournament season? Send your thoughts to [email protected].

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