Chris Collins coached against the three Big Ten teams remaining in the NCAA tournament, so it's not necessarily a surprise he thinks the conference's top squads can continue to make noise in the Big Dance.
The Northwestern head coach saw plenty of Michigan State, Wisconsin and Michigan, playing a total of six games against those three this season. While his Wildcats pulled off only one upset victory — perhaps in the most unlikely game, at Wisconsin — Collins learned plenty. Enough to know these teams have a real shot at a deep tournament run.
What makes these Sweet Sixteen teams so sweet?
"I think they have great chances," Collins said Wednesday on SportsTalk Live. "They're veteran teams, they're good teams. I think all three have a chance to continue to advance. I love the way they all have offensive firepower. I think sometimes when you get in trouble is a team that has a hard time scoring. I think with all three of these Big Ten teams, they've shown that when they've needed to make shots, when they've needed to make plays they can do what needs to be done. And they all have multiple guys who can step up. In a one-and-done situation, your best player might not have it going, but you need someone else, a second or third option, to step up and have a big game for you."
Which of the three has the best chances of getting to the Final Four? Collins likes Sparty.
"I really like how Michigan State's playing," Collins said Wednesday on SportsNet Central. "I noticed when we played them in the Big Ten Tournament a couple weeks ago, they cranked it up a couple notches, their intensity, their defense. They have all the components you need. They have really good guard play, they have a great big man in Adreian Payne and they seem to be peaking at the right time. That being said, both Wisconsin and Michigan are really good teams. They're very skilled, they're veteran teams, they're very well coached. It would not surprise me to see any of the three teams still standing at the end of the day."
Wisconsin takes on Baylor on Thursday. Michigan State squares off with Virginia and Michigan matches up with Tennessee on Friday.