Boden: Big Ten tourney just might make my bucket list

Boden: Big Ten tourney just might make my bucket list
February 14, 2013, 12:15 pm
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A lot of us in the sports media cover so many events so frequently that when we have our free time, going to a sporting event as a fan isn't very high on our priority lists. I'm seriously reconsidering that next month.

The Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament is back in Chicago for the first time in six years (after spending the past five in Indianapolis), and it's shaping up to be the most exciting, intriguing and competitive tournament since it began in 1998, when the event debuted to begin a four-year run at the United Center.

Tickets can be had, but right now it's up in the 300 level. The most compelling day should be the semifinals on Saturday the 16th. If all the conference heavyweights make it through, that'll be entertaining enough. If there's a surprise or two on Friday, all the more reason to see if a lower seed could capture lightning in a bottle. Seems unlikely with the strength of the conference this year (how about national No. 1 Indiana sitting in second place in the conference behind Michigan State until drawing even with their win Wednesday night), but there have been enough league post-season tourney Cinderellas over the past decade around the country to fill up a 64-team bracket.

Could Illinois be that team as John Groce's squad finally seems to be coming out of its funk? They'll be in their "home away from home." They have a couple of key seniors in their last go-round, as well as a handful of Chicago-area kids. But I'm still not holding my breath on them, since the Illini are almost certain to start play on Thursday in that conference minefield.

Indiana, Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin were all in this week's AP Top 20. Some are getting better, some struggling, some holding steady. But things might be different a month from now at the Madhouse.

Tempts me to hang out on Madison Street on Friday, looking for some long-faced alum looking to get rid of his or her lower-bowl seats for the weekend. The closer to the action at this year's tournament, the better.

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