Big Ten Tournament Preview and Predictions

Michigan State walked away with the regular season title after a dominate second half performance against rival Michigan Saturday night.  Sunday the final regular season games took place finalizing the seeds for what could be the funniest tournament of all the power fives.  The ACC is top heavy, the Big12 is a three-team race, anyone can beat anyone in this tournament.  Let’s break it down.

Sleeper- Indiana Hoosiers

Most may not remember that the Hoosiers entered the season with very high expectations.  They have slowly begun to return to form.  With the two man punch of Romeo Langford and Juwan Morgan Indiana has two studs they can lean on during big moments.  The Hoosiers also got a favorable draw against a reeling Ohio State team and potentially matching up with Michigan State whom they defeated twice during the regular season.

What to watch for- Returning Nick Ward

Michigan State showed what they are made of while dealing with multiple injuries during the regular season.  Kenny Goin and Xavier Tillman stepped up in the absence of Nick Ward.  The Spartans will welcome back Ward for this tournament.  If he plays to his ability this team has a shot to steal a #1 seed.

Opening Round

Nebraska over Rutgers– Nebraska was an early season darling in the Big Ten. The injury to Isaac Copeland derailed what could have been a promising season.  Still the Cornhuskers will have the best player on the court in James Palmer Jr. Feeding off the momentum of Sunday’s shocking comeback versus Iowa should propel Nebraska to an opening round victory.

Northwestern over Illinois– Illinois made a nice run mid-season showing the potential of Brad Underwood’s team.  I prefer Northwestern in this matchup mainly because of their ability to handle the ball.  Northwestern is top five in the Big Ten in turnovers per game which is the bread and butter of the Illini.  Northwestern will control the tempo and Vic Law will have a big game.

Second Round

Indiana over Ohio State-

Indiana has to win, and they will versus an Ohio State team that has looked bad without Kyle Wesson.  The Hoosiers will have too much for the Buckeyes.

Maryland over Nebraska-

Maryland has a problem with turnovers.  They will have to take care of the ball to have a chance in the big dance. Locking down Nebraska’s James Palmer will be a problem, but the size of Maryland will be too much for the Cornhuskers.

Penn State over Minnesota-

Penn State has turned their season around after a rough start and will continue it against a Minnesota was barely able to get by a struggling early season Nittany Lions team. Penn State will have to keep Jordan Murphy off the glass, if they contain him they roll.

Iowa over Northwestern-

Iowa needs this win, they will score to much for Northwestern to handle. 

Third Round

Michigan State over Indiana-

Cassius Winston will lead his veteran team to a revenge victory over an Indiana team that surprisingly handled the Spartans twice during the season.  Michigan State will also have a lift from the returning Nick Ward.

Maryland over Wisconsin-

Maryland will have a tall task beating the slow paced Wisconsin Badgers.  The Badgers are to inconsistent on the offensive end, their inability to hit free throws will do them in down the stretch of the game.

Purdue over Penn State-

Carson Edwards versus Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Josh Reaves will be a very fun matchup.  Purdue will have to much ancillary pieces for Penn State to get the win. 

Michigan over Iowa-

I’m not a believer in Michigan but their defense is too good for an Iowa team that that will be forced to take a lot of contested jumpers.

Semi-Final

Michigan State over Maryland

Maryland has the talent to win this game.  Unfortunately, their turnover problems will return in this semi-final matchup with the veteran Michigan State Spartans.  Kenny Goins outside shooting will help pull one of the young bigs from the paint opening up lanes for Cassius Winston.  Michigan State wins big.

Purdue over Michigan

Purdue’s early season defeat against Michigan will be in the minds of the Boilermakers.  Carson Edwards will come up. Big against Michigan early.  The Wolverines are a great defensive team, but they have problems with putting together points when they are down early.  Boilermakers make it to the final.

Finals

Michigan State over Purdue

These two teams split the regular season with both home teams winning. Cassius Winston will solidify himself as the MVP of the tournament while Nick Ward will be handled Matt Haarms.  The Spartans are too deep for the Boilermakers.  Michigan State wins the Big 10 Tournament.

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