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Three Big Ten teams head to highly ranked Sweet Sixteen

Michigan State, Michigan and Purdue represent final three Big Ten teams in NCAA Tournament

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Michigan vs Florida Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

While the Big Ten started out the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament with the most teams from one conference with eight, a majority of those teams were conquered within the first two rounds.

These teams include No. 5 Wisconsin losing to No. 12 Oregon in a dreaded five-twelve first round loss that fans have become to see so common in recent tournaments.

While most Big Ten teams were able to conquer the first round, four more teams have since been eliminated, all losing in their second-round matchups.

These teams include No. 10 Minnesota losing to fellow Big Ten team Michigan State, No. 6 Maryland falling to No. 3 LSU, No. 10 Iowa overpowered by No. 2 Tennessee and No. 11 Ohio State losing to No. 3 Houston.

With three Big Ten teams still remaining in the tournament—dropping out of the top spot for the most teams from one conference— two of the three teams are still favored to win their next games based on rankings.

The remaining Big Ten teams are No. 2 Michigan State, No. 2 Michigan and No. 3 Purdue. These three teams held the top three seeds in the Big Ten tournament earlier in March which boasts no surprise why they are the three teams still representing the Big Ten.

The No. 2 ranked Michigan State Spartans have conquered Bradley University and Minnesota so far this tournament. Their success has come from the same person they have relied on all year in their star point guard Cassius Winston.

Winston—averaging 18.9 points per game—put up 26 points over Bradley University and 13 against Minnesota. As one of the top guards in the country, he has led the Spartans to a seven-game win streak including a Big Ten tournament championship.

The one thing that Michigan State has uncharacteristically shown in most recent games is their overabundance of turnovers. A total of 31 turnovers over two games in this tournament could prove destruction if the Spartans cannot control the ball.

This will be especially important against an LSU team who averages just under nine steals per game.

The Spartans will play the No. 3 LSU Tigers Friday at 6:10 p.m. on CBS.

No. 2 Michigan is another team that viewers shouldn’t be surprised to see in the sweet sixteen. Michigan has proven over the last few seasons how dominant they can become during tournament time.

Being one of the last two teams undefeated in the NCAA before losing in late January shows that Michigan can compete with just about anyone in the NCAA.

While Michigan has many weapons to their team including Ignas Brazdeikis, Zavier Simpson and Charles Matthews, be on the lookout for sophomore Jordan Poole to continue his assertiveness through the rest of the season.

Poole has scored in double digits in six out of the last seven games and will continue to be a huge key for Michigan moving forward versus a high-powered Texas Tech offense that averages 73.1 points per game.

Michigan will take on No. 3 Texas Tech Thursday at 8:40 p.m. on CBS

The final Big Ten team remaining is the No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers.

While Purdue has been inconsistent through their season—losing to four out of eight games against ranked opponents before the tournament— watch out for the Boilermakers to make a splash in the remainder of this NCAA tournament.

Rallying behind their Second-Team All-American Carsen Edwards, Purdue has conquered No. 14 Old Dominion and No. 6 Villanova so far in the tournament.

Purdue will be the underdog in a matchup with No. 2 Tennessee Thursday at 6:30 on TBS.