NCAA tournament: Big Ten's big three

NCAA tournament: Big Ten's big three

Iowa (above) couldn't pull an upset of Tennessee on Sunday, and Ohio State's stay ended Sunday night with a loss to Houston. But the Sweet 16 includes three Big Ten teams. College basketball writer Scott Richey checks in on what those programs need to do in order to keep their Final Four hopes intact this week:


Lockdown defense pushed Michigan throughout its 17-game winning streak to start the year. The same kept the Wolverines near the top of the Big Ten standings until the final day of the regular season. So it's no surprise that Michigan's No. 1-ranked defense has been key to its return to the Sweet 16. The Wolverines locked up Montana in round one and were even stingier in their second-round beatdown of Florida. Add in the return of Charles Matthews and Michigan could be bound for the Elite Eight again.


Michigan State won once in the tournmanent where Cassius Winston had to put the Spartans on his back. Beating Minnesota in the second round proved easier when Winston didn't have to be the only effective option on the offensive end. He'll have his hands full Friday against LSU point guard Tremont Waters, but that's not the only tricky matchup for Michigan State. Naz Reid is a force inside for the Tigers, but either Matt McQuaid or Aaron Henry might have the toughest draw against LSU's Skylar Mays.


Welcome back, Carsen Edwards. The Purdue guard disappeared in the Big Ten tournament — scoring just 11 points on 4 of 17 shooting — and similar inefficency has cropped up at multiple times this season. That included the Boilermakers' opening round victory against Old Dominionm, where Edwards had 26 points but took 23 shots to do it. That the 6-foot-3 powerhouse hit nine three-pointers and dropped 42 points on Villanova on Saturday night should strike an awful lot of fear in Tennessee.