The Runner Sports

Big Ten Tournament Predictions

It’s finally here. The Big Ten Tournament starts on Wednesday, and there is a lot riding on this year’s championship in Washington D.C. A few teams still find themselves on the bubble, some are trying to keep themselves in the NCAA Tournament, and others are playing for seeding. Here are my game-by-game predictions of this year’s Big Ten Tournament.

Round 1

#12 Nebraska vs. #13 Penn State

Nebraska has lost its last four while Penn State has lost its last five. I don’t like either of these teams to make much noise, but Nebraska’s horrible three-point defense could be troublesome. The Nittany Lions have been surprisingly good at times this season, and I think they’re good for at least one win in Washington D.C.

#11 Ohio State vs. #14 Rutgers

The Scarlet Knights’ win over Illinois to finish the regular season may have buried Illinois’ NCAA Tournament chances, but that doesn’t mean this team is for real. This team had lost six in a row prior, and outside of offensive rebounding, this team struggles immensely in all statistical categories. Look for Ohio State to build some momentum with a win.

 

Round 2

#9 Illinois vs. #8 Michigan

Illinois is going to be playing with some urgency in this one, but I think they got a really tough draw in Michigan. The Wolverines have been great down the stretch, and matching their top-notch shooting percentages with a very decent Illinois defense spells trouble for the Illini. I don’t think Malcolm Hill can will his team past Michigan.

#13 Penn State vs. #5 Michigan State

This is a rematch from earlier in the season where Penn State embarrassed the Spartans in the Palestra. Tom Izzo and company won’t let that happen again. If Michigan State loses this game, some might say that they’d fall off the bubble, but I’m pretty sure the Spartans are safe either way. Michigan State will advance to Friday.

#7 Iowa vs. #10 Indiana

This may be the most intriguing second-round matchup of the Big Ten Tournament. Iowa has caught some fire recently and realistically could still make the NCAA Tournament. Some might say they drew an easy opponent in the struggling Hoosiers, but keep in mind that this Indiana team put up 96 on the road the other day over Ohio State. I know the Hoosiers aren’t very good, but they’re much better than their resume displays. I think Indiana steals Iowa’s NCAA Tournament chances.

#11 Ohio State vs. #6 Northwestern

The Wildcats are in the NCAA Tournament no matter what, which is why I might think they’ll ease up and play a little more lax than usual. Obviously, seeding is on the line, but Ohio State could be playing with a little extra urgency in this one. Still, Bryant McIntosh is really catching fire at the right time, and he’ll sneak his Wildcats past a tough duel with Ohio State.

 

Round 3

#8 Michigan vs. #1 Purdue

This matchup does create some problems for Purdue, given just how good Michigan can be from the outside. Eleven three-pointers cooked the Boilermakers the last time these two met, and I think Michigan tends to be a very good Big Ten Tournament team. That said, very few opponents have bothered Purdue this season, and I don’t expect the regular season Big Ten champions to get upset in their first game. I’m going to take Purdue, but by a slim margin.

#5 Michigan State vs. #4 Minnesota

It would only be fitting if we get to see this matchup again. Nick Ward went off in Minneapolis the first time these two met, and Miles Bridges helped carry home the win in East Lansing. Completing the season sweep over Minnesota was no easy task, and a red-hot Gopher team will have one more chance to retaliate. A big key for the Gophers is going to be rebounding against a team that cleaned up the boards very nicely the last two times these teams met. I’ll take Minnesota by a few.

#10 Indiana vs. #2 Wisconsin

Wisconsin has been struggling, but I think the 66-49 home win over Minnesota was an attempt to make a statement. This is still an incredibly talented team that has the ability to catch fire in March. Indiana doesn’t have enough magic in it to get past Friday, but I do believe the Hoosiers will give Wisconsin a little bit of a scare. The Badgers roll on.

#6 Northwestern vs. #3 Maryland

The last time these two met, Melo Trimble went 12-17 from the floor and dropped 32 points in Evanston. If that happens again, Northwestern will lose for sure. I think Trimble is really going to turn things up here at the end of the season, and given the way Maryland man-handled Northwestern¬†on its own floor, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it happen again.

 

Semi-final

#4 Minnesota vs. #1 Purdue

I’m going to be bold and take the upset here. Minnesota has won eight of their last nine and boasts an overtime win on the road over Purdue this season. In that game, Nate Mason went for 31 points and 11 assists and had one of the best games of his career. Minnesota was able to share the ball well and limit turnovers. Look for that to be the key in pulling the upset.

#3 Maryland vs. #2 Wisconsin

I’d love to see this matchup again. Both teams are talented and dangerous in different ways, and Ethan Happ and Melo Trimble are two of the most talented players in the Big Ten this year. I think Wisconsin is, all around, a better team, and as long as the Badgers play fundamental basketball and let their seniors overpower Maryland’s freshmen, they should win.

 

Final

#4 Minnesota vs. #2 Wisconsin

This would be a very interesting championship game, as we’ve seen these two do battle twice this season. Wisconsin has won both contests, but Minnesota will be looking for revenge. This would feature a very hot team in the Gophers going up against one of the most talented teams that has been overlooked lately in Wisconsin. Anything could happen, but I think Wisconsin has the know-how to get it done and win the Big Ten Tournament. I’ll take the Badgers to win the whole thing.