Big Ten Tournament Preview
Host Trent Fye, alongside analysts Andrew Field and Tommy Calpin, breaks down the upcoming Big Ten Tournament and all the action that is to come:
With the Big Ten basketball regular season all wrapped up, the Michigan State Spartans and the Purdue Boilermakers have claimed the co-champions of the Big Ten Conference. Now it’s time for the cutthroat, make it or break it Big Ten Tournament. Whoever wins the Big Ten Tournament earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Michigan won it last year to earn themselves a bid, can they do it again? Does Michigan State upset them? Does a nine or 10 seed team make it again?
Let’s get right into the tournament schedule:
No. 13 Nebraska versus No. 12 Rutgers (Wednesday 5:30 p.m.)
Nebraska finished their regular season with four straight losses up until the last game of the season when they notched an upset victory over Iowa. Rutgers, on the other hand, split their last six games going 3-3 including two losses to finish out the season.
Nebraska started the season on the hot note going 11-1 in non-conference play. Both teams are coming into this game at the bottom of the conference and will be an interesting battle. James Palmer Jr. is a fantastic player for the Cornhuskers who earned third-team All-Big Ten honors.
Geo Baker and Eugene Omoruyi’s efforts won’t be good enough to beat Nebraska, and the Cornhuskers will win 73-63.
No. 14 Northwestern vs No. 11 Illinois (Wednesday 8 p.m.)
Northwestern finished their last six games 1-5, maintaining the worst conference record and showing that Dererk Pardon’s efforts weren’t enough to put his team above .500. Illinois, on the other hand, is the other team that finished the season 1-5. After really catching fire in the middle of the season, Illinois sizzled out at the end of the season. This is the one game that will most likely have no impact on the tournament, but crazier things have happened.
Illinois seems to find a way to win a close one. Illinois star recruit and Big Ten freshmen team honoree Ayo Dosunmu will have a big game and score over 24 points to propel Illinois past Northwestern, 69-65.
Whoever wins the Northwestern versus Illinois game will play Iowa. Whoever wins Nebraska versus Rutgers plays Maryland.
No. 9 Indiana vs No. 8 Ohio State (Thursday 11:30 a.m.)
Indiana is coming into this game the winner of their last four-straight games, which goes good for them because they have found a winning formula going into the tournament. Ohio State, on the other hand, stumbled toward the end of the season. They lost their last three weeks of the season and lost to the last seed Northwestern. What Ohio State has going for them is the return of Kaleb Wesson, their leading scorer, and team leader is coming back from suspension. This will be a very good game, seeing that the last time these two faced off Ohio State won, 55-52.
Right now Indiana is on fire and they should continue their momentum into Friday. Indiana wins 78-54.
No. 5 Maryland versus Nebraska/Rutgers (25 minutes after Indiana versus Ohio State)
Maryland comes into this game ranked in the top 25 and in a safe spot for the NCAA tournament. They have the second youngest team in college football, but a hungry young bunch who knows how to play some ball. They split their last six games going 3-3. Maryland has two of the better forwards in the Big Ten, Bruno Fernando, and Salen Smith. Both are big bodied players who know how to contribute on offense and defense effectively. Whoever wins the Nebraska/Rutgers game will have to face a hungry and fired up Maryland squad.
Maryland wins 79-68 if they play Rutgers.
Maryland wins 72-59 if they play Nebraska.
No. 10 Penn State versus No. 7 Minnesota (Thursday 6 p.m.)
Penn State finished off their last 10 games going 7-3 and propelling themselves up to the 10th seed in the tournament and a first-round bye. In that span, Penn State notched two quadrant one wins and found a winning formula.
Minnesota went 3-7 in their last 10 games but finished out the year on a 3-3 stretch. The last time these two faced off Jordan Murphy of Minnesota carved up the Penn State defense scoring 19 points and collecting 21 rebounds. Lamar Stevens also missed a buzzer beater two-point back shoulder fade.
Penn State will get revenge in this game and will win by the hands of Lamar Stevens and Josh Reaves scoring over 15 points each. Penn State wins, 83-76.
No. 6 Iowa versus Northwestern/Illinois (Thursday 25 minutes After Penn State vs Minnesota)
Iowa is 5-5 in their last 10 games but lost their last four games to end out the season. Iowa has four players who average 10 points per game. Iowa will have to rely on Jordan Bohannon who has won a couple of games at the buzzer beater this year.
Whoever wins the Northwestern/Illinois game won’t have much of an impact here, seeing that they most likely will get swept by Iowa.
Iowa beats Northwestern 70-52.
Iowa beats Illinois 69-64.
No. 1 Michigan State (Friday 12:30 p.m.)
Michigan State finished out the season better than any other Big Ten team winning seven of their last eight games. They swept their bitter foe Michigan to be crowned co-champion with Purdue.
Even after the short length injury of Nick Ward, their backup junior Kenny Goins stepped in nicely. Nick Ward is expected to be back for the tournament. Michigan State also has the Big Ten Player of the Year in Cassius Winston, who is the leader of this Spartan squad, averaging 19 points per game.
Michigan State is loaded with talent and their head coach Tom Izzo will have his squad ready to go as he does every week. If Indiana wins, they will come into this game with the upper hand because they swept Michigan State in the regular season. Indiana has a legit chance to win this game as well. Ohio State, on the other hand, may find difficulty offensively, especially since they struggled to find any formula with the absence of Kaleb Wesson.
No. 4 Wisconsin (Friday 25 minutes after Michigan State)
Wisconsin is winners of five of their last six games. They have Ethan Happ, who is an All-Big Ten selection at the helm of their basketball squad. Happ averages 17.8 points per game and 10.4 rebounds per game. He loads up on every stat possible.
Wisconsin had an easier schedule going down the stretch, their last six games were against unranked opponents. If Maryland makes it, it will be a tough matchup. Maryland may even come out as the victors, but history is on Wisconsin’s side because they won their last matchup. Nebraska and Rutgers will be a bit different. Neither team has shown enough in conference play to show that they will beat Wisconsin.
Maryland beats Wisconsin 69-62.
Wisconsin beats Nebraska 63-51.
Wisconsin beats Rutgers 65-60.
No. 2 Purdue (Friday 6 p.m.)
Purdue has shown why they are co-champions with Michigan State. They have come out on top of eight of their last 10 games. In that stretch, they have played only one ranked team, but the results show how well they played in all 10 regardless. They have also split their matchups with co-champion Michigan State.
Purdue is arguably the scariest team in the Big Ten and will battle anyone they face until the clock hits zero. Purdue has the Big Ten leading-scorer this year in Carson Edwards, who averages 23.4 points per game. Edwards is the only player in the Big Ten who averages over 20 points per game. The game-plan is simple but difficult to obtain if you are either Penn State or Minnesota. Contain Carson Edwards and try to stop the 3-point shooting. Both teams have shown that they can hang with Purdue. Minnesota right now has the upper hand because they recently beat Purdue 73-69. Penn State, on the other hand, are 0-2 against Purdue but took them to overtime in University Park.
It’s difficult to determine how these games will turn out. In terms of stats and momentum, Purdue will win, but one can see both Penn State and Minnesota winning as well.
No. 3 Michigan (Friday 25 minutes after Purdue)
Michigan is 6-4 in their last 10 games. Michigan was swept by Michigan State late in the season, which is why they haven't crowned Big Ten champions. Michigan also played five ranked matchups in that span as well. They
do have a team that is very experienced and knows what it’s like to make it to the big dance in the NCAA tournament. Michigan is loaded with players who earned All-Big Ten honors. Zavier Simpson earned second-team All-Big Ten and Ignas Brazdeikis earned second-team All-Big Ten honors and Freshman of the Year in the Big Ten. Jordan Poole and John Teske also earned honorable mentions.
Expect Michigan to handle Iowa, Northwestern, or Illinois. Iowa will pose a fight, after all, they were ranked for the latter part of the season. Northwestern and Illinois, however, shouldn’t have a chance.
It will be a toss-up for the Iowa game, so it can go two ways: Iowa wins 68-66, or Michigan wins 66-61. Michigan will handle Northwestern and Illinois by at least 10.
Big Ten Championship Game Prediction
Michigan and Michigan State will meet again in the finals for another matchup. Michigan State will take the crown this year and head into the NCAA tournament as the No. 1 seed from the Big Ten.
Final score: Michigan State 79 - 72 Michigan.
Trent Fye is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism, to contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.