If this isn’t the best conference in college basketball than its gotta be the 2nd best. The Big Ten is the definition of deep. No wonder why it came down to final day of the regular season to sort out just how this conference tournament would line up. The Big Ten madness is taking place in Indianapolis and it should be a dandy. Handicapping this bracket will be a challenge but it’s one I’m looking forward to.
Reason to watch…
Michigan State, Maryland, Wisconsin & so on all have teams that not only can win the Big Ten tournament but has a legit shot to make the final four. Illinois, Ohio State, Michigan & Iowa are playing great basketball. Penn State & Rutgers both traditionally terrible basketball teams have been great this year. Purdue and Indiana are trying to claw their way into the NCAA tournament. Minnesota is underrated based on their record. Nebraska and Northwestern are um well probably planning an early exit back to Lincoln and Evanston.
Michigan State +220
The Spartans looked real questionable to me at the mid season point but Tom Izzo is Tom Izzo. The Spartans have stormed back to looking elite after a amazing end to their season that included a 20 point come back on the road at Penn State. Michigan State is experienced and seem primed to make a run after closing out the regular season looking like a top 10 team.
The Terps have the most talented roster in all the BIG TEN in my opinion. They split games with Michigan State and struggled on the road early in the year. Mark Turgeon finally won a share of his first ever BIG TEN title so maybe Turgeon can continue to build on that momentum and grab a tournament championship and secure perhaps a two seed.
The Badgers have to be in the midst of one of the quietest teams in that nation. No one is talking about the Badgers but boy have they developed as a team since the season started. The Badgers have the 14th best rated defense in the nation and have won 8 in a row and 9 of 10.
Brad Underwood is doing a great job at Illinois. As long as guard Ayo Dosunmu is healthy then the fightin’ illini have a chance. The Illini were 3-4 on the season against the top 5 of the BIG TEN but two of those losses were by one point.
The Hawkeyes not only have the BIG TEN player of the year in center Luka Garza but they have the best team they’ve had in sometime for head coach Fran McCaffrey. The Hawkeyes have one of the best passing teams in all of college basketball and they can shoot which means they’ll always be dangerous. The weakness however is that Iowa is 259th in defense. If the Hawkeyes want to win the BIG TEN conference championship they are going to have to find a way better way to lock down defensively.
Ohio State +1000
The real question with the Ohio State Buckeyes will be which Ohio State team are we going to see. Ohio State started this year off fantastic and even climbed in to the top 5 but then came January the Buckeyes lost 6 of 7 and left many wondering if they were even going to make the NCAA tournament. The Buckeyes rallied late in the year and looked like a brand new team winning four of their last five. The Buckeyes have the nations 24th best defense and they will continue to rely on that in this tournament.
The Wolverines have had a up and down season for sure and yes it’s Juwon Howard’s first BIG TEN tournament as head coach but he still has experienced players who have had success in this tournament before. Xavier Simpson is still at the point for the blue and when forward Isaiah Livers plays this is a completely different team. Livers was banged up throughout the season. Michigan has to get better defensively if they are really going to damage in this tournament, currently the Wolverines have the 146th best defense in the nation.
Rutgers, Purdue, Indiana, Minnesota, Northwestern, Nebraska.
Michigan State is playing at a high level right now so I’d be foolish to not take them. I think they meet Wisconsin in the BIG TEN championship. Give me the chalk and the Spartans to get it done in Indianapolis.