March Madness – The Dance Halls Open Tonight

The field of 68 teams was chosen on Sunday night after Ohio State beat Wisconsin capture the Big 10 title and wrap up conference tournament play. Thad Matta has now won four Big 10 Championships during his tenure as coach of the Buckeyes. Matta started coaching Ohio State in 2004 after stints with Xavier and Butler. He’s highly regarded as one of the top coaches in the country and is viewed as the head of one of the most powerful basketball programs. Matta doesn’t have a national title to cement his legacy among the other iconic coaches in men’s college basketball; however, this year, with Aaron Craft and other elite players, he could find himself with his best opportunity yet to stand alone on the biggest stage. The last time Matta had a deep run was in 2007 when he had eventual number-one pick Greg Oden and Mike Conley leading the way to the inevitable brick wall in Florida (and now Chicago Bulls) star Joakim Noah, who would not be denied his second consecutive national championship under Billy Donovan.

Ohio State has a particularly opportunistic draw in the bracket system with their placement in the West. Gonzaga is hardly a sure thing notwithstanding having lost only two games. They could conceivably lose in the Sweet 16 and set up another Big 10 game for the Final Four berth. Wisconsin and Ohio St. are both extremely strong teams from an extremely good conference. The Big 10 is far and away the best conference in the country and could put two or three teams into the final weekend at the Georgia Dome.

Michigan vs. Kansas will be a very exciting game to watch if it happens in the Sweet 16. Louisville vs. Michigan State might perpetuate Tom Izzo’s reputation for making teams’ lives miserable in the tournament. He’s the consumate overachiever, and Duke has lost just enough to be undependable. I’m not optimistic about any ACC team this year. In the thick of bracketology I’m strictly deferring to the Big 10 and Kansas. Looking forward to the madness on Thursday and Friday to take me away from the sweet life of sophistical punditry.