You know it's March when your work computer has two windows open: an internet browser -- that is so obviously streaming college basketball -- and a spread sheet you randomly found from nine months ago that you can flip to in a pinch. After all, you gotta be as covert as possible these next two weeks... you never know who may creep up behind you.
You also know it's March when a last second buzzer beater makes you jump out of your desk chair (with zero back support) in that weird, exciting silence that doesn't disturb your co-workers or rat you out as a pay check collecting, non-working hack.
It's truly the most wonderful time of the year.
While Friday had three blow outs in Big Ten Tournament play, we were still graced -- albeit, early in the day -- with one giant Stone Cold Stunner of a game between Indiana and Michigan. Even though Big Ten fans were given bundles of coal during the proceeding eight hours after that game was over, today, today we will get diamonds.
I guarantee it.
Game of the Day #1: Michigan Wolverines vs. Purdue Boilermakers (1:00 PM ET, CBS)
Ohhhhh-ho-ho-ho-ho. What a game. What a shot. What onions by Kameron Chatman. What a call by Mike Tirico.
I don't care who you are, that's just some good, wholesome family fun right there.
But, that was yesterday. Now the question remains, in today's rubber match against Purdue, can Michigan keep this "March Magic" alive? Can they once again out rebound and out hustle Purdue like they did back in February? Can they possibly hold the Boilermakers to 36.6% (15-41) from inside the arch again? Can they force another 8+ turnovers for easy transition buckets? Can Zak Irvin stay hot (19 points against Northwestern, 17 against Indiana)? Can Derrick Walton provide any help offensively (four total points in tournament play)? Can Mark Donnal and Irvin -- who are giving up a ton of weight and height -- handle the Purdue bigs? Can they keep Matt Painters defense spread wide? Can Duncan Robinson be "Good Duncan Robinson" and not "NONONONONOOOOO" Duncan Robinson?
I can't wait to find out.
Purdue on the other hand are more than likely chomping at the bit to play this game. To put the Wolverines back in their place like they did back in January. To get some revenge for the loss they took at the Crisler Center.
For those that don't remember, it was the 61-56 loss at Michigan that ultimately set an alarm off in West Lafayette. Purdue got their butts handed to them all night; looking rather uninterested, unenthused and quite tired. It was like they forgot to put in their study hours for the week, so they all decided to pull an all nighter before tip off.
Or, to steal a line from former Chicago Bears head coach, Marc Trestman, Purdue was just downright "selfish and undisciplined".
But, as I said, an alarm went off. Since that cold, hard night in February, Matt Painter's crew has played some of the most inspiring basketball in the conference and the win/loss column has proved as much. Purdue has won five of their last six games with their only loss coming by four points at the hands of rival Indiana.
From what we saw yesterday against Illinois, they don't plan on stopping any time soon.
In fact, the Boilermakers were so dominant against the Fighting Illini, I texted this to an Iowa buddy of mine in the first half:
So even if Iowa won yesterday, they still would've ran into the buzzsaw that is Purdue today. Either way you slice it, Iowa's Big Ten Tournament was going to end with our hearts broken.
Purdue or Michigan? Kind of lucky or kind of scary? Zoolander or Hansel?
I'm honestly torn. So instead, I decided to ask my partner, BTPowerhouse Editor and resident Purdue junkie A R Holmes to help me out:
@JerJr33 they could definitely beat us, if we go cold it'll be close. We're clicking right now though. Their 3rd game in 3 days too.— A R Holmes (@ARHolmesBTP) March 12, 2016
Can it be 1:00 PM yet?
Game of the Day #2: Michigan State Spartans vs. Maryland Terrapins (3:30 PM ET, CBS)
You didn't think I would list this game as something other than the "Game of the Day" as well, did you?
No, no, no kind sir and madame. This game is just as exciting as the Michigan/Purdue game.
For Maryland, this matchup could be massively important. With a win today, the Terps could potentially push themselves over their season long "can they put it ALL together" hump. By beating the Spartans, they could gather some much needed confidence. Build off of that win, cut down the nets after winning the Big Ten Tournament and then go on one of those classic March Madness runs.
If only it were that easy. But if the Terps can put a strong focus on keeping the Spartans off the offensive boards -- something that killed them in their matchup earlier this season (remember the Crazy Costello game?) -- they'll be in much better shape.
It will also work wonders if Jake Layman can shoot as well as he did last night against Nebraska and if Mark Turgeon can get a veteran performance from Diamond Stone in back-to-back games. It's not smoke when pundits say that Maryland's starting five is one of the best collectively talented units in college basketball. It's just a matter of "IF" they can finally put all of those pieces together, knock off a Big Ten titan and then make a deep run in the NCAA's.
As far as Sparty goes, what is there left to say? They have won 11 of their last 12 games. They obliterated, dismantled and flat out made Ohio State quit Friday night by notching their third win against the Buckeyes this season (by a combined 61 total points). Denzel Valentine (who got pulled with nearly six minutes left in Friday's game) is the National Player of the Year (sorry Buddy) and is appointment television for any basketball junkie. Bryn Forbes -- who earlier this season struggled from every where on the floor until he rediscovered his shooting stroke against Maryland -- is now shooting 50.5% from three point range. And Matt Costello was a unanimous selection for the Tyler Hansbrough Hall of Fame.
They have been absolutely spectacular and one of the most complete teams in the Big Ten and the country. If you've already penned them into Sunday's championship game as well as your future Final Four, I wouldn't argue with you one bit.
But no matter who you may side with, this is going to be a heavyweight fight ladies and gentlemen.