NCAA Analyst Criticizes Big Ten Conference for Underperforming in March Madness; Insists It Is Still the Best Conference

Published 03/24/2021, 4:00 PM EDT
Mar 21, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini guard Jacob Grandison (3) and guard Andre Curbelo (5) and guard Ayo Dosunmu (11) react as they walk off the court after their loss to the Loyola Ramblers in the second round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Loyola Ramblers won 71-58. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


The 2021 edition of the March Madness tournament has been wild. The Sweet Sixteen has arrived and there are a surprising four double-digit seeds still in the dance. The Pac-12 Conference has emerged as a top league, while the Big Ten Conference has been atrocious.

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With nine teams from their conference, Big Ten had the most representation in the NCAA tournament. However, just one team, the Michigan Wolverines, has made it to the Sweet Sixteen. NCAA analyst Jay Bilas criticized the Big Ten for underperforming but still said that it is the best league.

He said, “There’s no excusing some of the performances that we saw. But I don’t care they’re under-seeded or not, Illinois was a one seed. They should win that game. There’s not a lot of excuse for Ohio State and Purdue for losing to the teams they lost to the way they lost. They played poorly, their opponents played well.

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“I think the Big Ten has a little bit of explaining to do. I don’t think invalidates the fact that it was the best league.”

Will the Michigan Wolverines save Big Ten from complete embarrassment in the 2021 March Madness?

Except for the Wolverines, the Illinois Fighting Illini were the other team from the Big Ten who were among the favorites. They had just won the Big Ten Conference tournament and looked all set to take that momentum into the NCAA tournament. They massacred the Drexel Dragons in their first game, winning 78-49.

The Fighting Illini were up against the Loyola Ramblers in their second game, a #8 seed from the Missouri Valley Conference. Although KenPom rates their defense as the best in the country, the Illini had two All-Conference players on the team, including Ayo Dosunmu, who is a candidate for National Player of the Year. But that wasn’t enough, as they lost 58-71 embarrassingly.

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The Big Ten baton now lies in the Wolverines‘ hands. They entered the tournament as a #1 seed and have lived up to the expectations so far. They now face the Florida State Seminoles in their next game, which should be an easy win for them. But if the 2021 March Madness has proved anything, it is that there are no easy games this season.

So the Wolverines have to be careful as they try to save face for the entire Big Ten conference.

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Mar 12, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Michigan Wolverines guard Mike Smith (12) reacts as he walks off the court with teammates after defeating the Maryland Terrapins at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

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Aaron Mathew

1556 articles

Aaron Mathew is a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. A graduate in Mass Media from Xavier’s College, Aaron has been a part of EssentiallySports since May 2020 where he covers both NBA and NCAA basketball news, and has also covered NBA 2K. In the past, Aaron has worked at the Sports Desk of Mumbai Mirror.

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