We're midway through February, which for college basketball fans means March Madness is just around the corner. Many fans around the state are likely saving those sick days to watch the opening round of the men's NCAA tournament, but fans in the Great Lakes State aren't guaranteed to have a home team to root for this year.
Michigan Radio's sports commentator John U. Bacon joined Stateside to break it all down as college basketball heads down the home stretch. He said, it's been a "bad year" for the Big Ten Conference, and Michigan and Michigan State (Michigan State has made the tournament 19 years in a row) are not sure to qualify for the "Big Dance."
The public got a preview of this year's competition when the selection committee put out a preliminary ranking of the top seeds if the NCAA tournament. With Michigan State University athletic director Mark Hollis as the chair of the committee, how many Big Ten teams do you think made the Top 16?
That tells you a lot about the committee's opinion of the Big Ten and shows us that this year's March Madness field could be very surprising.
"Almost everyone knew this was going to be a down year [in the Big Ten] based on the cycle of talent and all the rest, but it's even downer, if you will, than expected when Wisconsin, your top team, does not get a sniff [of the Top 16] from [the selection committee]," Bacon said. "And the same weekend, I guess they were right, because Northwestern knocks [Wisconsin] off. So Northwestern might make it to the NCAA tournament for the first time ever."
Listen to the full interview above to hear more about what goes into choosing teams for the NCAA tournament and to get Bacon's thoughts on the passing of Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers owner Mike Ilitch.