Here is the latest Big Ten Conference sports news from The Associated Press | Ap-sports
UNDATED (AP) — Now that the 68-team field for March Madness is set, the next few days figure to be the most nerve-wracking part of the seasons. No player can show up for a game without seven negative test for COVID-19. There are deadlines for teams to be replaced, too. Gonzaga is the overall No. 1 seed in the tournament that will be played completely in the state of Indiana. Baylor, Michigan and Illinois are the other top seeds. The first games are set for Thursday.
UNDATED (AP) — The biggest unknown leading into a March Madness bracket reveal more than a year in the making had little to do with bubble teams or top seeds. Instead, it was the not-so-simple matter of which programs would be healthy enough to play. Kansas and Virginia, two programs hit with COVID-19 breakouts over the past week, made it into the bracket released by the NCAA selection committee. It’s a signal that both teams believe they’ll have enough healthy players to be ready for their tip-offs next Saturday. The overall top seed in the tournament is Gonzaga, which is trying to become the first team since the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers to finish undefeated. The Bulldogs are early 11-4 favorites to win it all.
UNDATED (AP) — If you’re tired of watching the same old powerhouses, this is an NCAA Tournament for you. Duke, Kentucky and Louisville didn’t qualify. UCLA, Michigan State and Syracuse barely did. North Carolina is a No. 8 seed. Connecticut is a No. 7. The four No. 1 seeds are Gonzaga, Baylor, Illinois and Michigan. Those programs have combined for only one national championship — Michigan’s in 1989. The last time the top four seeds had only one title between them was in 1990.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Kofi Cockburn and Ayo Dosunmu each scored 16 points and made key plays in overtime to send No. 3 Illinois past No. 9 Ohio State 91-88 for its first Big Ten Tournament title since 2005. Cockburn made the go-ahead free throws with 1:39 to go, Dosunmu followed that with a game-breaking 15-footer and the Fighting Illini sealed it at the free-throw line. Ohio State was led by Duane Washington Jr. with a career-high 32 points and Justice Sueing with 22. The Buckeyes erased a 17-point first-half lead to force overtime. Illinois earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and Ohio State is a No. 2.
UNDATED (AP) — The Big Ten again has more teams in the NCAA Tournament than any other conference. The league’s record nine teams include a pair of No. 1 seeds and two No. 2s in the 68-team field. The Big Ten had eight teams in the last tournament played two years ago. The ACC and Big 12 both got seven teams into this year’s tournament, the SEC has six and the Pac-12 five. There are 11 conferences sending multiple teams to the NCAA Tournament. That also happened in 2019.
UNDATED (AP) — The first game of the NCAA Tournament’s First Four will be between SWAC champion Texas Southern and Northeast Conference champ Mount St. Mary’s on Thursday at 5:10 p.m. Eastern at Indiana’s Assembly Hall in Bloomington. The game will be broadcast on truTV. CBS and Turner Sports announced the tipoff times for the First Four and Friday and Saturday’s 32 first-round games. The First Four’s main event featuring for national champions UCLA and Michigan State is slated to tipoff at 9:57 p.m. at Purdue’s Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Indiana. Bruins-Spartans will be on TBS.
UNDATED (AP) — Baylor headlines the NCAA Tournament’s South Region with the program’s first No. 1 seed. The Bears will open against 16th-seeded Hartford on Friday. They had never been higher than a No. 3 seed previously. Coach Scott Drew has guided the second-ranked Bears to two regional finals but hasn’t gotten them to a Final Four. The bracket includes ninth-ranked Ohio State as the 2-seed, followed by No. 8 Arkansas, No. 20 Purdue and No. 14 Villanova. The early matchups include North Carolina coach Roy Williams trying to stay perfect in first-round games when the Tar Heels face Wisconsin.
UNDATED (AP) — Third-ranked Illinois earned the top seed in the Midwest Region minutes after beating No. 9 Ohio State in overtime to win the Big Ten Tournament title Sunday, anchoring a region filled with surprise teams and mid-major monsters. The Fighting Illini earned their third No. 1 seed and first since 2005. Houston was the second seed and Big 12 rivals West Virginia and Oklahoma State earned the third and fourth seeds. Tennessee is the No. 5 seed.
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