There’s no doubt that it’s the best time of the year to be a basketball fan. With basketball games everywhere you look, it’s every hoops fans heaven.
Thursday is gearing up to be a big day for the Big Ten in the NCAA Tournament, with five of the seven teams representing the conference set to be in action on the sports biggest stage. Meanwhile, Iowa was led by their freshman on the way to a win in the NIT over South Dakota on Wednesday night.
Let’s take a look at some of the highlights of the day from Wednesday and what Thursday means for the conference.
The Iowa freshmen can bring them an NIT Championship
Jordan Bohannon paced the Iowa Hawkeyes with 19 points and 11 assists on the way to an 87-75 win over South Dakota in the first round game of the NIT. Fellow freshman Tyler Cook also chipped in, adding 18 points and 8 rebounds without missing a shot, finishing 8-8 from the floor.
Peter Jok led the team in scoring with 20 points on 7-14 shooting and Isaiah Moss turned into a human flamethrower in the first half, drilling 4 three pointers and finishing the game with 16 points.
This Iowa team wanted to make the NCAA Tournament and while they came up a few wins short of a resume that would get them there, they certainly are good enough to win the 2017 NIT.
The freshman class scored a huge bulk of the points for the Hawkeyes Wednesday night, accounting for 59 of the Hawkeyes 87 points.
The freshmen aren’t freshman anymore with as many games as they’ve got under their belt and Peter Jok doesn’t have to carry the scoring load for this team by himself. While they will lose Jok after this year, Iowa is going to be a force to be reckoned with in the next few years.
Thursday is the first step in making a big statement for the Big Ten
There’s no question that the Big Ten as a whole was thought of as having a down year. And while there was no team in the conference that emerged as a legitimate national powerhouse as there has been in the past, there are no doormats in this conference. The depth of competition is very good in the Big Ten and they will certainly look to prove that in this NCAA Tournament.
Thursday is the first step for the conference to make a lot of noise, with 5 of the 7 teams representing the conference in action.
Most notably, the Northwestern Wildcats will be making their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament in school history. It will definitely be an incredible moment for Chris Collins and his players when they take the court against Vanderbilt. They aren’t just looking to be here and have a good time and go home, however. This team is here to win.
The other big storyline tomorrow will be that the Wisconsin Badgers might be one of the more dangerous eight seeds in the history of the tournament with all of the talent that they have. They can certainly make noise in their bracket, but they’ll face some tough match-ups against Virginia Tech to kick things off. Any team with Bronson Koenig, Nigel Hayes and Ethan Happ has a chance to win any game on a neutral court.
They’ve made deep runs in the past, let’s see if Hayes and Koenig have one more Final Four run in them.
It all starts tomorrow.