Big Ten Tournament preview

John Supinie

INDIANAPOLIS - The celebration and euphoria lasts, oh, about 10 to 15 minutes.

That's the shelf life of winning the Big Ten Tournament on Selection Sunday. For mid-major leagues and teams attempting to play their way past the bubble earlier in the week, it's a little different. But for the Big Ten champs who don't even get a chance to shower before the NCAA bracket is announced, it has to be asked:

Will Ohio State, the nation's top-ranked team and the Big Ten's regular-season champ, care about winning another title, or do the Buckeyes put little emphasis on the weekend to rest up for The Big Dance?

"We've won the league by a decent amount and won the conference tournament,'' said Michigan State coach Tom Izzo. "We lost in the first game and went to the Final Four. Every team is a little different.''

In this tournament that opens Thursday at Conseco Fieldhouse and concludes Sunday just minutes before the NCAA field is unveiled, Ohio State is the only team that has little to add to the resume when it comes to bracketology. The Buckeyes are a lock for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, and the only thing to gain by winning the conference tournament championship for the second consecutive season is securing the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA bracket.

But it might be in Ohio State's best interest to get some rest. The Buckeyes lean heavily on six players and rarely go beyond playing seven. The Buckeyes recall when they won the conference tournament championship in 2002, then scurried to Albuquerque, N.M., for a first-round game four days later. The fatigued Buckeyes didn't survive that weekend.

"When you get into it, there's the nature of the game,'' Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. "It takes over everything else. It's tough with three games in three days and playing as late on Sunday as you play. One thing I found in the Big Ten Tournament … it's almost like anti-climatic.''

One thing to consider is Cleveland, a first-round site likely to host Ohio State, has a Friday-Sunday format, so there might be enough time to rest and regroup.

The Buckeyes head into the tournament on a hot streak. They were 14-for-15 from the 3-point line in the 93-65 win over Wisconsin on Sunday. Senior guard Jon Diebler made 17 3-pointers in the last two games, thus earning the nickname "3-bler.''

Otherwise, the Big Ten bracket is filled with teams trying to climb into the NCAA field or programs attempting to secure a bid that might be a little shaky.

Purdue and Wisconsin are playing for seeding and perhaps the chance to win some jewelry by taking the conference tournament title, and Illinois' case appears strong for a bid although the Illini would help themselves with a victory in the quarterfinals. The week's mid-major tournaments haven't bumped the Illini closer to the bubble, unlike a year ago. The Illini enter the conference tournament considered a No. 9 by ESPN and CBSsports bracketologists.

Michigan State advanced to the Final Four in six of the last 12 seasons and started the season ranked No. 2, but Michigan State might need two wins.

"We've been disappointed,'' Izzo said. "The only plus we've got is when you play one-and-done time, these guys have (won) in 11 of those games in the NCAA tournament in the last three years. They should know how to deal with it.''

Michigan rallied from a 1-7 start in the Big Ten to the No. 4 seed by winning eight of its last 11 games, but the Wolverines may still need to do more work. Their best wins came over Michigan State and Clemson, a pair of bubble teams.

"There are too many things that can still happen,'' Michigan coach John Beilein said. "I don't get into it too much trying to determine it.''

Penn State would like to duplicate Minnesota's run a year ago, going from a No. 6 seed in the Big Ten to the conference tournament championship game to the NCAA bracket.

"We've got to win a couple more games to put ourselves in position,'' Penn State coach Ed DeChellis said.

John Supinie can be reached at