Former Miami Heat shooting guard Dwayne Wade thinks very highly of the Big Ten and, in particular, the Michigan Wolverines. Wade released his bracket yesterday afternoon, revealing his prediction that three Big Ten teams will reach the final four - No. 1 Michigan, No. 1 Illinois and No. 2 Ohio State.
It may seem like a pipe dream to have three Big Ten teams competing in the Final Four, but it’s not all that far fetched. The Big Ten has been the best conference in college basketball throughout the 2020-21 season, sending a record nine teams into the tournament. The conference also fields one of the top two seeds in every region (also a record): No. 1 Illinois (midwest region), No. 1 Michigan (east region), No. 2 Ohio State (south region) and No. 2 Iowa (west region). In fact, 22 of the last 35 tournaments have had two teams from the same conference reach the Final Four (63% of the time).
It’s hard to argue against Wade’s Final Four selections given how talented the teams are.
Though many have criticized No. 1 Gonzaga for their relatively easy schedule, the Bulldogs have made the most of their opportunities - currently sitting at an overall record of 26-0 and the only undefeated team within the tournament. No. 1 Michigan claimed the regular season Big Ten title while the Illinois Fighting Illini claimed the Big Ten tournament championship, leading both programs to claim top spot within the conference. The No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes knocked off the Wolverines in the conference tournament and nearly defeated top ranked Illinois to claim the tournament championship.
Put simply, it’s likely that the Big Ten will have multiple teams reach the Final Four. If it plays out the way Dwayne Wade has indicated in his bracket, there will be plenty of happy Wolverines in the weeks to come.