Badgers could be vulnerable in B1G tournament

Nick Fattori

The Big Ten, or B1G, from top to bottom is one of the best conferences year in and year out, and this 2014-15 season was no different. 

The top two teams in the conference, Wisconsin and Maryland, are both ranked in the top 10, and the conference as a whole will send a minimum of six teams to the dance, maybe even eight if things work out.

When you talk about the B1G Conference, the first team that needs to be discussed is Wisconsin, coached by the legendary Bo Ryan

The Badgers sit at 28-3 and are led by one of the frontrunners for National Player of the Year, senior forward Frank Kaminsky. 

Kaminsky has been dominant in every aspect of the game, contributing on both offense and defense. He leads the team in scoring and rebounding at 18.4 and 8.2 a night and his 2.6 blocks per game are second by only .3 blocks.

Maryland may not have a Frank Kaminsky, but it sits at 26-5, owns a seven-game winning streak and has a trio of players who can go toe-to-toe with any backcourt in the nation. 

Freshman, junior and senior guards Melo Trimble, Dez Wells and Jake Layman combine to score 44 points and 15 rebounds a night. Their scoring counts for more than 63 percent of Maryland’s nightly output. 

After these two conference leaders, a logjam is created in the middle of the pack. Michigan St., Iowa and Purdue all went 12-6 in conference and have either 20 or 21 wins apiece.

 Ohio St. also lurks close behind in the standings.  

The Buckeyes are led by star freshman guard and projected lottery pick D’Angelo Russell were not far behind at 11-7 and 22-9 overall. 

These teams are essentially locked-into continuing their seasons well into March.

Then, come the bubble teams in Indiana and Illinois, whose futures are much more uncertain.

Indiana’s high-octane offense could surprise a higher seed in the conference tournament, while Illinois’ Rayvonte Rice is one of the most consistent scorers in the conference

Each one of these teams will more than likely need a win in the opening round, but a win over their potential quarterfinal opponents, Maryland and Wisconsin, would push either one of them into the field of 68 for sure.

The B1G is so strong from top to bottom, but most of the teams fall into the middle of the pack, making it a lot easier for the teams at the top to prevail in the upcoming conference tournament. 

However, the top seed has not won the tournament in Indianapolis since Ohio St. did it in 2011, and, if history is any indication of what we can look forward to this weekend, it should stay that way after Sunday. 

Look out for the upperclassmen-heavy Spartans of Michigan St. to upset the Badgers on Sunday on their way to their third tournament title in four years.