INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 10: Bucky the Badger, mascot for the Wisconsin Badgers performs against the Michigan State Spartans during their Semifinal game of the 2012 Big Ten Men's Basketball Conference Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 10, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS - Let's be clear: the Big East Tournament took a back seat this year as the "best conference tournament".
With that league being down overall this season, and giving us a championship game that was sloppy and low scoring between No. 7 and No. 4 seed, the ACC and Big Ten Tournament provided more theatrics and watchability.
A well-organized and run event, here are five takeaways from the Big Ten Tournament, and how the results could be telling for the NCAA Tournament.
- Michigan 's size will doom them - I've said that sophomore center Jordan Morgan is the team's x-factor. That's will true to a degree, but it's more because this team would be a lot better if he was better. The Wolverines are simply underwhelming down low. They struggle to rebound and struggle to defend. If and when Morgan comes up big is when Michigan becomes dangerous. Who knows if that will happen in four or five days.
- Michigan State is a nicely balanced basketball team - It was something people had a beat on way back in November following their Carrier Classic loss to North Carolina. Maybe they weren't going to be so bad this season! And indeed, we were right. Keith Appling is the right kind of point guard for this team, Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne have become a bit more consistent this season - and, along with Draymond Green, may deserve the nickname of "The Three Headed Green Monster" - and Austin Thornton and Brandon Wood have proven they can score if given the ball in the right place. Defensively, losing Branden Dawson may hurt them depending on match-ups, but it's been fun to watch the Spartans come into their own this season. Just more great work from Tom Izzo.
- Tom Crean is a nut - I had the opportunity to sit directly behind the benches of a number of teams this weekend, and it was very interesting to observe the wide-range of communication levels between players and coaches. Obviously, there's intensity and enthusiasm across the board, but Tom Crean takes the cake as the most hyper. The most rigid and demanding, Crean may have barked at his players and assistants more than any other coach this weekend, but I don't know if he made eye-contact with them once. He's constantly calling on assistants with "whadda ya got for me?" and "what are you seeing?" type comments, expecting quick and concise answers he can use to stay informed. Fascinating to see as, conversely, Michigan's John Beilein is quite passive with his approach. To each their own
- Rodney Williams could be really, really good - "Mentally, he just can't do it for 40 minutes," a fellow reporter told me this weekend. Williams dazzeled for moments in the Golden Gophers semi-final match-up against Michigan. On both ends of the court, he's incredibly dangerous. He can swat and jump out of the gym. A lot of people already knew this, but I just wanted to reaffirm. Seriously, if he can get put it together for next season, watch out, NBA Draft first round.
- Either Michigan State or Ohio State is the best team in the best conference - In terms of NCAA Tournament seeding, that should speak for something, right?