This You Gotta See: Big Ten, Big East, ACC go tournament wild as Selection Sunday nears

Can Northwestern make some noise in Indy? Or DePaul in New York? Maybe Notre Dame can win the whole thing in Brooklyn?

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Illinois v Indiana

Kofi Cockburn and Illinois have the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten tournament.

Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Here’s what we know: We have no idea.

With only three out of 32 conference tournaments finished entering Monday, a multitude of surprises could — will — unfold before Selection Sunday. We know Loyola is in the NCAA Tournament, one final Missouri Valley title in the books for the Ramblers, but what will happen this week in the ACC, the Big East, the Big Ten and elsewhere throughout college basketball?

A handful of inauspicious Senior Days reminded us that even seemingly bad teams can bumfuzzle us in March. Take Big Ten bottom feeder Nebraska winning — without its best player — at first-place Wisconsin to put an exclamation point on the weekend before the league’s teams head off to Indianapolis.

If Nebraska can do that, can’t Northwestern make some noise in Indy? Or DePaul at the Big East shindig in New York? Maybe Notre Dame can win the whole thing at the ACC tournament in Brooklyn?

And even though we’ve become accustomed to seeing Loyola succeed, this is still part of the underdog narrative that means so much to basketball fans in March. The Ramblers made the Final Four in 2018 and reached the Sweet 16 in 2021, but this will be their first time in the NCAAs in back-to-back seasons since the school won it all in 1963 and got back in ’64.

“We love this,” senior Lucas Williamson said in the on-court celebration in St. Louis. “It’s what we do, man.”

What an accomplishment. What a time of year.

Here’s what’s happening:

Philadelphia 76ers v Chicago Bulls

Embiid tends to be more than the Bulls can handle.

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

MON 7

Bulls at 76ers (6 p.m., NBCSCH)

Philly goes for a four-game season sweep against a Bulls team that never seems to have any answers for superstar 7-footer Joel Embiid. Then again, who does?

TUE 8

Ducks at Blackhawks (7:30 p.m., NBCSCH)

The offensively challenged Ducks don’t have a single player in the top 50 in points, yet even they’re outscoring the Hawks by nearly half a goal per game. Is the season almost over yet?

WED 9

Big East first round: DePaul vs. St. John’s (6 p.m., FS1)

Javon Freeman-Liberty and David Jones blitzed the Johnnies with a combined 63 points two Sundays ago at Wintrust Arena. More of the same couldn’t hurt at Madison Square Garden.

Big Ten first round: Northwestern vs. Nebraska (5 p.m., BTN)

You know how the Wildcats haven’t been back to the Big Dance since 2017? Yeah, well, they haven’t won a Big Ten tourney game since then either.

THU 10

IHSA boys basketball semifinals (10 a.m., The U)

The Class 1A and 2A final-four squads get after it at State Farm Center in Champaign, with a doubleheader of third-place games starting at 7 p.m.

ACC quarterfinal: Notre Dame vs. TBD (6 p.m., ESPN/ESPN2)

The Irish have done enough to get into the Big Dance, but they’re not going to like the seed line they’re on one bit if they don’t win at least one or two more games in Brooklyn.

Blackhawks at Bruins (6 p.m., NBCSCH)

This one has “mismatch” written all over it, but we’re obligated by law to include all Hawks Original Six matchups in this column.

Nets at 76ers (6:30 p.m., TNT)

Ben Simmons remains little more than a theoretical being, but at least Kevin Durant is back on the court for the Nets. Now let’s really get this rivalry cooking.

FRI 11

IHSA boys basketball semifinals (10 a.m., The U)

Classes 3A and 4A take their turns, with Chicago-area teams heavily involved. State titles are so close, you can taste them.

Big Ten quarterfinal: Illinois vs. Indiana/Michigan (TBD, BTN)

The Illini begin their tourney title defense. If only 2021 MVP Ayo Dosunmu were still around to help see them through it.

SAT 12

IHSA boys basketball finals (11 a.m., The U)

Classes 1A and 2A go first and second, with 3A at 5:30 p.m. and — 20 minutes after that game concludes — the 4A big boppers in the nightcap.

FBL-USA-MLS-CHICAGO-ORLANDO

Something Xherdan Shaqiri and the Fire could give us to clap about: a goal.

Photo by KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images

Fire at D.C. United (6:30 p.m., Ch. 9)

Two games in the books, and the Fire have neither scored nor been scored upon. Can you feel the excitement?

Cavaliers at Bulls (7 p.m., NBCSCH+)

Seems like everybody who’s anybody is passing the Bulls in the Eastern Conference standings lately. Are the Cavs getting ready to do it, too?

Bucks at Warriors (7:30 p.m., Ch. 7)

If Bulls-Cavs isn’t captivating enough for you, there’s always a chance a game involving Giannis Antetokounmpo and Steph Curry won’t be a complete bore.

SUN 13

Big Ten final (2:30 p.m., Ch. 2)

This game never fails to deliver. Nor does the NCAA selection committee ever fail to proceed as though the game never happened.

NCAA Tournament selection show (5 p.m., Ch. 2)

Gonzaga? Arizona? Kansas? Auburn? Kentucky? Baylor? Duke? Only four of ’em can be No. 1 seeds if we’re understanding things correctly.

NCAA women’s selection show (7 p.m., ESPN)

Northwestern was a “last four in” team according to ESPN’s bracketology. They’re on the edges of their seats up in Evanston.

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