You began with nothing more than a crumpled $10 bill and a dream. You labored long and hard over your NCAA Tournament picks, scratching them out with a worn pencil nub while the frantic cries of friends and family went unanswered. Your strategy was clear — you would ride the six Big Ten teams to triumph in your office pool. Six magical teams — not one of then seeded lower than ninth. What could possibly go wrong?
Monday morning arrives gloomy and wet — you awake, bleary-eyed, and survey the damage. Indiana lies crumpled and broken in a corner. Wisps of smoke rise from burned-out wreckage of Wisconsin and Michigan State. The police have drawn a chalk outline on the carpet where Illinois used to be. Pieces of Ohio State are scattered throughout the neighborhood, some remnants hanging from trees. At least they took the honorable way out; Iowa is found rotating slowly from a ceiling fan where it had hung itself. Where did it all go so horribly wrong? The Missouri Valley Conference gets two teams into the Sweet 16, and the Big Ten is shut out? Why God, why? The following fine blogs have come up with some answers, perhaps. See what you think.
• Planet Haystack posits that it came down to poor shooting — and even poorer coaching. After noting that Indiana coach Mike Davis allowed his 6-foot-11 center to take more three-point attempts this season than two-point attempts (45 to 41), Haystack remarks: "Iowa ... so dignified and courageous in accepting its ouster from the '06 playoffs. The stages of 'The Hawkeyes' Demise' were distinct and profound. Bang! A 17-4 lead in the game's first six minutes, furnished by 7 of 9 shooting. Then ... no baskets in the next 12:21."
• Over at Big Ten Wonk, the theory is that Big Ten teams needed to get to the line more often. Noting that the state of Washington (Gonzaga, Washington) enjoyed an 80-17 advantage in FTAs over the Big Ten (Illinois, Indiana) on Saturday, Wonk says: "Give me more players like Ron Lewis of Ohio State, non-bigs who nevertheless have a knack for getting fouled. A Ron Lewis in an Illinois uniform last night changes the outcome. Coaches tirelessly preach pass-over-dribble and rightfully so. But we may be at the point where we've taken this healthy practice to an unhealthy extreme."
• Over at Illinitalk, they prefer to simply tell the story in pictures.