Every year, Yahoo college sports writer Pat Forde does best case/worst case scenarios for every team in the NCAA Tournament. I always enjoy these columns, so with apologies to him, I'm going to extend this concept to the Big Ten Tournament this week. Here's are the possibilities for every B1G team as they prepare to head to the Circle City:
Best case: Coming into the B1G tourney with 5 straight victories, the Hoosiers finally break their long streak of bad play in the event in front of a huge group of IU fans, beating Michigan, Purdue, and then Michigan State all in succession to earn a 2-seed in the NCAA Tournament. From there, the Hoosiers don't lose again, and Yogi Ferrell brings to mind visions of Steve Alford and Isiah Thomas as IU claims their sixth banner. At the White House celebrating the title, President Obama congratulates Tom Crean for having as many titles as his brothers-in-law do, combined.
Worst case: Indiana comes out flat on a Friday at noon and loses to a hot-shooting MIchigan team. The Hoosiers get place as a 4-seed, and have to face 5-seed Kentucky in round two. The Wildcats beat IU, and then go on to win the title. Purdue makes the Final Four. The Tom Crean buyout clocks and Fire Tom Crean twitter accounts return in full force. Troy Williams and Thomas Bryant go pro.
Best case: Michigan State wins the Big Ten tourney with double-digits victories in all three of its games. As UNC and UVA struggle in the ACC tourney, the Spartans receive a 1-seed. They beat Eron Harris's former team in WVU in the Elite 8, defeat Virginia yet again in the Final Four, and cap off the season by defeating UNC in the title game, getting revenge for the 2009 title loss. A statue is commissioned of Tom Izzo outside Breslin Center, while Mark Dantonio ocne again defeats Jim Harbaugh and Urban Meyer during the football season.
Worst case: "Sparty No" makes its return at the exact wrong time, as MSU loses to Ohio State in their third meeting in three weeks. Because of the early loss, the Spartans are placed in Spokane as a 3-seed, where they lose in round two to 11-seed UConn. Michigan inexplicably gets further than them in the tourney, East Lansing gets six inches of snow in early April, and Tom Izzo flirts with NBA jobs in the offseason.
Best case: Remember that Maryland team that was a preseason top-5? They finally put it all together in Indianapolis, cruise to a B1G Tourney title, and go on to win the NCAA Tournament as well. Mark Turgeon is given a huge extension, the Terps grab another top recruiting class, and with the Under Armour money flowing in, the pieces are in place for Maryland to become a perennial contender. Duke and UNC both get bounced early.
Worst case: Maryland stumbled at the end of the regular season, losing 4 of their last 6 games. The struggle continues in Indy, as they can't figure out how to get past Wisconsin. In the NCAA Tournament, they draw VCU in the first round, and lose to the Rams, ending what should have been a championship contending season. Melo Trimble and Diamond Stone go pro, and fans in the DC area quickly turn their attention back to the NFL team in town. Duke wins a second title in a row.
Best case: After watching IU lose early, the Boilermakers crush Iowa on Friday, then get two more victories as they take home their first B1G tourney in seven years. The team gets on a hot shooting streak in the Tourney, as they surprise many by getting to their first Final Four since 1980. IU loses early, which supposedly validates all of Purdue's year-long schedule complaints, the school finds another building on campus to name after Neil Armstrong, and Morgan Burke opens the checkbook to hire a new football coach.
Worst case: Purdue inexplicably loses to Illinois - again. The Selection Committee does the Boilers no favors, putting them as a 5-seed in the same region as 4-seed Kentucky, but the Boilers never get there, as they lose to at-large selection Valparaiso in the first round. Caleb Swanigan goes pro, and Matt Painter is on the hot seat, while IU wins the whole thing and builds a statue to Tom Crean. To make matters worse, Donald Trump says in a debate that he'd abolish NASA.
Best case: Fran McCaffery's squad uses their win over Michigan last Saturday to get back to the level where they were playing at in late January. The Hakweyes make a run through the tourney, beating Illinois easily, then Purdue for the third time, while the third time is a charm against Indiana, and ends things with a third win this season over Sparty. The Hawkeyes get opening round games in Des Moines, and a senior-laden squad cruises to a Final Four. Iowa State gets bounced early.
Worst case: After losing 5 of 7 to end the regular season, the Hawkeyes never really recover, as they scrape by with a win over Illinois before losing in front of a partisan Purdue crowd. Iowa gets sent away from Des Moines and gets upset in the first round of the Tourney. Iowa State makes the Final Four, Northern Iowa makes the Sweet 16, and Augustana wins the D-2 title.
Best case: Bo Ryan always piloted the Badgers to good results in the BTT, and Gard follows in his footsteps, as Wisconsin takes care of business against Nebraska, then defeats a murderers' row of Maryland, Michigan State, and Indiana to get the automatic bid and jump all the way to a 5-seed in the tourney. They make the Sweet 16, where they eventually lose 45-44 to UVA, but the season is hailed as a success and Badgers fans are excited for what Gard can bring to the table in the coming years.
Worst case: Days after being announced as the permanent head coach, Greg Gard doesn't exactly get fans confident for the future, after a shaky three-point win over Nebraska and a double-digit loss to Maryland. The Swing offenese doesn't pan out in the Tourney, and after having to fly out to Spokane, Wisconsin loses in the first round. Meanwhile, Marquette goes on to win the NIT.
Best case: Several Buckeyes fans who weren't able to use their pre-booked hotel rooms in Indianapolis for the B1G title game last December decide to make the trip to the Circle City this time around, and the fan support buoys the Buckeyes to three straight victories, including ones over Michigan State and Maryland. While OSU's run ends in the finals to Indiana, the selection committee decides to include the Buckeyes in a play-in game. In front of a packed crowd wearing scarlet and grey in Dayton, the Buckeyes easily dispatch of Monmouth, then defeat Notre Dame in the first round of the Tourney while their fans chant "just like football" after the game is over. The run ends against WVU in the next round, but fans are impressed that Thad Matta has overacheived with this year's squad.
Worst case: The Buckeye fan support never materializes on a sleepy Thursday evening in Indy, and Brandon Taylor scores 30 points to lead Penn State to victory. The Buckeyes lose to Virginia Tech in the NIT, MIchigan makes the tourney, Jim Harbaugh steals a five-star recruit from Upper Arlington, and LeBron James leaves the Cavs after another NBA Finals loss.
Best case: After beating Northwestern handily, the Wolverines get revenge on Max Bielfeldt and Indiana in the quarterfinals and beat Purdue in the semis before falling to Michigan State in an all-Michigan final. This is enough for the selection committee, who places the Wolverines in the tourney, and Michigan gets hot from the three-point line as they make a surprising run to the Sweet 16 as a 10-seed.
Worst case: Northwestern gets out to an early lead and never looks back. On Selection Sunday, the Wolverines are left out of the field, while Ohio State somehow finds their way in. Michigan bows out in the NIT to nearby Oakland University, Jim Harbaugh gets hit with a recruiting violation, and John Beilein shocks fans by announcing his retirement after the season.
Best case: Alex Olah dominates the boards as Northwestern breezes by Michigan, then Bryant McIntosh helps the Wildcats beat two Indiana teams in two games, as they get past both IU and Purdue. On Sunday, with the school's first Tourney berth on the line, the Wildcats don't flinch, beating Wisconsin and putting an end to the "only power school to never make the NCAA Tournament" trivia question. While their stay in the Tourney is short-lived, Chris Collins signs a contract extension, and the future is bright in Evanston.
Worst case: Olah gets in foul trouble, McIntosh has another rough game in his home state, and the Wildcats lose by double-digits to Michigan, and they don't get an NIT berth either. Chris Collins shocks Northwestern fans when he leaves to accept the job at Georgia Tech.
Best case: Beating Ohio State by 15 clinches an above-.500 season, and although the Nittany Lions lose to Michigan State, they grab an NIT berth, giving Pat Chambers' squad some motivation for next season, along with their stellar recruiting class.
Worst case: Penn State never makes it a game against the Buckeyes, the Nittany Lions fail to make the NIT, and Chambers' vaunted recruiting class never pans out.
Best case: After crushing Rutger, the Huskers take Wisconsin to overtime, and while they can't pull the upset off, Shavon Shields gets a nice sendoff to his college career. Tim Miles entertains the crowd at press conferences and is spotted at an open mic night at a comedy club downtown later that evening.
Worst case: The unthinkable happens. After beating Rutger twice in the regular season, Nebraska loses to them in front of a sleepy Wednesday night crowd at BLF. Nebraska AD Shawn Eichorst decides this is reason enough to replace Miles, and he hires another coach from Oregon State to replace him.
Best case: After crushing Minnesota, the Illini pull off an upset in overtime against Iowa thanks to 30 points from Malcolm Hill, then inexplicably beat Purdue for a second time this season. Their run ends with a loss to Indiana, but new AD Josh Whitman has other plans for this team. Like with Lovie Smith in football, he gets rid of John Groce and brings in another former Chicago pro team coach. In this case, the new Illini head basketball coach is none other than Tom Thibodeau.
Worst case: The Illini lose to the Gophers, and the team slinks into the background of fans' minds as Loviemania takes over Champaign.
Best case: The shorthanded Gophers will their way to a victory over a reeling Illinois team in front of a few hundred fans before losing to Iowa in the next round, giving their fans hope for the future after a miserable season.
Worst case: Minnesota loses to Illinois for the third time this season, a few players transfer, and Richard Pitino leaves to join his dad's coaching staff - at UNLV.
Best case: The team has a lot of fun, the flights get in on time, and their players learn some stuff they didn't know about Indianapolis! After the season, Eddie Jordan is thanked for his time he put in as head coach, then promptly relieved of his duties, and the Scarlet Knights hire Monmouth's King Rice - a local name who excites the long-suffering fanbase.
Worst case: After a 30-point loss to Nebraska, Jim Delany negotiates a backroom deal with Mike Aresco to trade Rutger to the AAC for UConn.