Anybody who followed the Big Ten men's basketball season in 2011-12 already knew it was a special league, with five teams among the top 15 most of the season in The Associated Press Top 25 rankings. Then Michigan State went out and won that conference's tournament, topping Ohio State in Sunday's championship game to earn a No. 1 seed.
The Spartans' presence in the NCAA Tournament West Region, coupled with second-seeded Missouri on the bottom half of the bracket, makes the West one of the stronger regions in the Big Dance this year. Missouri played second fiddle to Kansas most of the season, just as MSU played second fiddle to OSU and Michigan, but the Tigers and Spartans enter the NCAAs as two of the hottest teams.
The state of Utah's only team to make the tournament this year, BYU, is also in the West Region almost. The Cougars (25-8) must beat Iona (25-7) in a "First Four" game in Dayton, Ohio, on Tuesday to move into a Thursday matchup in Louisville with No. 4 seed Marquette.