The Big Ten has suffered some big losses in the first two rounds of this year’s NCAA Tournament.
The conference was considered the toughest in Division I basketball in 2021 with Illinois (No. 2), Michigan (No. 4), Ohio State (No. 7) and Iowa (No. 8) all ranked inside the top 10 in the latest AP Top 25 poll. So it was rather shocking to see half of those teams lose in the first and second rounds of March Madness.
No loss was more shocking than Ohio State’s; the Buckeyes, seeded sixth overall in the tournament, lost a stunner to 15-seed Oral Roberts in Round 1, becoming just the ninth 2 seed to suffer such an indignity. But they weren’t alone: 4-seed Purdue also lost to 13-seed North Texas, and 11-seed Michigan State lost its First Four matchup to UCLA.
Then, on Sunday, Illinois became the first 1 seed to lose in the NCAA Tournament, getting handled by an 8-seed Loyola Chicago team that, in retrospect, may have been seeded too low. After the Illini’s loss, only 1-seed Michigan, 2-seed Iowa, 9-seed Wisconsin and 10-seeds Maryland and Rutgers remained in contention.
Illinois junior guard Ayo Dosunmu — a first-team Sporting News All-America selection — and sophomore center Kofi Cockburn — a second-team selection — were less than efficient in their outing. Dosunmu scored just nine points on 4-of-10 shooting, while Cockburn scored 21 points and nine rebounds.
But Twitter is not often a place for rational dialogue. The frenzied masses saw yet another Big Ten team lose and roundly pounded the conference after its top-rated team bowed out early.
Looking forward to Sister Jean’s open letter to the Loyola fanbase declaring that Loyola is the rightful Big Ten champion.
— Nicole Auerbach 😷 (@NicoleAuerbach) March 21, 2021
The Big Ten had five of the Top 16 seeds in the 2021 NCAA Tournament. Two are left: Michigan and Iowa.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) March 21, 2021
State of Illinois runner up isn’t quite as impressive as Big Ten runner-up, but at least the banners will match.
— Chris Balas (@Balas_Wolverine) March 21, 2021
Illinois has now failed to reach the Sweet 16 for the 15th consecutive season. But congrats on your fake Big Ten regular season title and your strongly worded letters. ✌🏼
— Wolverine Corner (@WolverineCorner) March 21, 2021
The media allowed Big Ten teams to stay highly ranked after beating each other just to get exposed by mid majors in March…
— pinto (@pinto479) March 21, 2021
If Illinois hadn’t been so utterly obnoxious trashing Michigan’s Big Ten legitimacy, I’d take no glee in this loss. But they did so … pic.twitter.com/xh46hugu7Y
— Michael Spath (@MichaelSpathITH) March 21, 2021