Big Ten

Sweet 16 Preview and Picks: Virginia Cavaliers vs. Michigan State Spartans

ACC, Big Ten tournament champs vie for chance at Elite Eight
Sweet 16 Preview and Picks: Virginia Cavaliers vs. Michigan State Spartans

For Michigan State, reaching the Final Four is almost a birthright.

For Virginia, reaching the Final Four has been a long time coming.

Of course, neither can seal a trip in Friday’s Sweet 16 game, but that’s just an illustration of the different pressures for the two teams meeting in New York City.

Adreian Payne and Keith Appling don’t want to be the first seniors to play every year for Tom Izzo and miss the Final Four. Meanwhile, Virginia, once a Tournament regular, hasn’t been to the national semifinals since 1984.

Wisconsin Bucking History with Offensive Showcase in Sweet 16

Badgers demolish Baylor to reach first Elite Eight since 2005
Wisconsin Bucking History with Offensive Showcase in Sweet 16

The best way for Wisconsin to prove this Badgers team is different was the kind of game that encouraged viewers to tune out.

Wisconsin has struggled to advance in the NCAA Tournament in the past thanks in part to a methodical offense that hit a snag in the second round or Sweet 16.

Sweet 16 Preview and Picks: Wisconsin Badgers vs. Baylor Bears

Wisconsin, Baylor seeking elusive Final Four trip
Sweet 16 Preview and Picks: Wisconsin Badgers vs. Baylor Bears

Perhaps it’s inevitable Wisconsin and Baylor would meet in the Sweet 16 with the way the season has gone.

Both teams started on hot streaks — Wisconsin at 16-0 and Baylor at 12-1 — before falling apart early in conference play.

In the last month or so, both teams have rediscovered the magic from early in the season, powering the Badgers and Bears to a Sweet 16 game Thursday. Meanwhile, both have arrived here in unexpected ways: Wisconsin scoring 85 points in a win over Oregon, Baylor blowing out Creighton 85-55.

College Basketball's Top Coaches Without a Final Four Appearance

Bo Ryan, others hope to end their Final Four droughts this weekend
College basketball's top coaches without a Final Four

The NCAA Tournament will go on without Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim and Roy Williams.

At least as far as the Final Four is concerned, that means new blood.

Of the 16 coaches left in the NCAA Tournament, only six have been to the Final Four. Some of the others are young coaches making their first major impression (Dayton’s Archie Miller, UConn’s Kevin Ollie), but the Sweet 16 is more notable for the coaches who have accomplished nearly everything they can in their career without reaching the Final Four.

10 Teams Stumbling into March Madness

Iowa and a handful of other teams are cooling off at the wrong time
10 Teams Stumbling into March Madness

As of today, the next two losses will be any team's last losses of the season.

With conference tournaments starting this week, no team can afford any kind of cold streak.

The following teams, though, need to hit the reset button in the worst way. These 10 teams have slumped late in February and into the early part of March.

Teams like Iowa, Michigan State and Kentucky were all considered potential Final Four contenders, but doubt has surfaced in recent weeks. And teams like Missouri and Pittsburgh are perhaps a loss away from going to the NIT.

Profiling Nebraska: NCAA Tournament Bubble Watch

Cornhuskers can make major statement vs. Wisconsin
Profiling Nebraska: NCAA Tournament Bubble Watch

Fifteen Senior Nights have come and gone in Lincoln without a group of veterans continuing their seasons in the NCAA Tournament.

That could change Sunday against Wisconsin.

The Cornhuskers have been one of the surprise teams in the country, assured of a winning record in the Big Ten. The next hurdle could be their first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 1998.

Here’s how Nebraska arrived on the bubble and how the Huskers could further their case Sunday and into the conference tournaments.

12 unlikely players who could be NCAA Tournament heroes

They're not stars now, but they may be in position to become breakout players
12 Unlikely players who could be NCAA Tournament heroes

Becoming a March Madness hero has its perks.

For example, can you pronounce Farokhmanesh? Have you ever had such a hot hand you thought you might try courting Kate Upton in front of the entire world?

That's what it's like for three weeks during the NCAA Tournament for the unlikeliest of stars.

Northern Iowa’s Ali Farokhmanesh hit four 3-pointers to upset Kansas in the second round in 2010, and for a brief time every college basketball fan could pronounce the name a player who had never even averaged 10 points per game in his career.

NCAA Tournament Projections, Bubble Watch and Key Games

Several teams are in crunch time in the final week of the regular season
NCAA Tournament Projections, Bubble Watch and Key Games March 4

Crunch time is here.

Conference tournaments are starting this week in 13 league. But with most of those tournaments featuring a winner-take-all for an NCAA bid, the bubble watch is taking place in the final week of the regular season for the major conferences.

The Big East, Atlantic 10 and Pac-12 have perhaps the most important bubble games of the week while other teams are simply trying to work on some resume maintenance, as you might call it.

Here are the key midweek games and a look at the field and bubble teams for the rest of the week.

Profiling Minnesota: NCAA Tournament Bubble Watch

Andre Hollins, Gophers face make-or-break stretch this week
Profiling Minnesota: NCAA Tournament Bubble Watch

Minnesota won an NCAA Tournament game last season, and Tubby Smith was shown the door.

The Gophers are flirting with the NCAA bubble, and first-year coach Richard Pitino has the Minnesota fanbase energized.

Pitino has a chance to be the first first-year coach to reach the Tournament since Bill Muselman in 1972, but the Gophers have to make a major statement this week. The Gophers picked up two major wins in January against Wisconsin and Minnesota, but Pitino’s team has been quiet since then.

Ranking the Nation's College Coaching Tandems

Michigan State's duo claims the top spot
Ranking the Nation's College Coaching Tandems

Football is king in the SEC, but outside of pockets in Lexington and Gainesville, basketball never feels like a pressing issue.

The Big Ten, on the other hand, is where a balance between football and basketball success is trending upward. The league doesn’t have the names of the new ACC — Krzyzewski, Boeheim, Williams and soon Pitino — but Tom Izzo, Bo Ryan, John Beilein and Thad Matta stack up with any roster of basketball coaches in the country.

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