UW MBB: Mike Lucas: Up For Grabs: The Big Ten Tournament is here

BY MIKE LUCAS

UWBadgers.com Senior Writer

MADISON, Wis. — For one week in February — in what amounted to a revealing two-game window — there was no greater example of parity in the Big Ten than the top four teams going a combined 1-7.

"How wild is that?" Wisconsin assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft posed incredulously. "It's so balanced and there's just a lot of parity. You can see it night-in and night-out."

Purdue beat Penn State in overtime but lost to Michigan. Wisconsin lost at Ohio State and Michigan State. Maryland lost to Minnesota and Iowa. Northwestern lost to Illinois and Indiana.

Outsiders might look at those results and suggest parody, not parity.

But that would be fake news to Michigan State's Tom Izzo.

"Parity doesn't mean poor," Izzo stressed during Monday's teleconference advancing this week's Big Ten tournament at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., a first-time site for the event. "Sometimes parity means we're deeper from top to bottom. I think the tournament is wide open more so than it has ever been."

By the time the Badgers start play Friday night against either Indiana or Iowa, it's likely that a higher seed will have fallen to a lower one based on the wild momentum swings, the plethora of overtimes and the unpredictability of a regular season that has given hope to everybody that they can come to our nation's capital and create some memories.

"The games will be ultra-competitive," predicted UW associate head coach Lamont Paris. "No team would probably ever admit this, but my guess would be in the past there have been a couple of matchups where teams don't really expect that they can have a great chance to win a game. Not this year. There won't be any teams that don't feel they can win any game at the tournament."

Krabbenhoft wasn't trying to sell tickets but he couldn't curb his enthusiasm.

"If I'm a basketball fan, I'm sitting in the Verizon Center because each game is going to be a coin toss," he said. "Coach (Greg) Gard said it best. There are no get-well games in January and there aren't any at the Big Ten tournament. You'd better be ready to go, one through 14, because if you're not, you're going to get beat."

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