The Runner Sports

NCAA Tournament First Round Big Ten Predictions

Seven Big Ten teams are going dancing this year. While the Selection Committee didn’t exactly seed the Big Ten how most expected, no team got left out that should’ve gotten in. Selection Sunday went how most expected. Here are my predictions for Big Ten teams in the first round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament.

#8 Wisconsin vs. #9 Virginia Tech

Wisconsin got heavily under-seeded as an 8 after finishing second in the Big Ten and almost clinching the auto-bid in the Big Ten Tournament. While this team slipped up a bit at the end of the season, it’s still a very talented group of guys led by a dominant senior class. Virginia Tech has struggled to defend the three this season, which is something that Wisconsin excels in. While the Hokies are pretty good on the glass, I don’t seem them slowing down Ethan Happ.

Prediction: Wisconsin

 

#8 Miami vs. #9 Michigan State

Michigan State got a tough draw in one of the more talented teams in the ACC. The Spartans come into this tournament with one of their lowest seeds in awhile and 14 losses total. Tom Izzo’s team normally shows up well in March, but this is a young team without a lot of talent. Not to mention, this Miami team grabbed plenty more big wins than Michigan State did throughout conference play. I’m going to take a team that was battle-tested in the ACC.

Prediction: Miami

 

#4 Purdue vs. #13 Vermont

The Boilermakers lost their opening game in the Big Ten Tournament, but have no fear, this team is talented and will bounce back. They face a Vermont team that has won 21 straight, but the Catamounts could really get killed on the boards. I don’t know who’s going to step up and stop Caleb Swanigan, and I like Purdue to wear down this team.

Prediction: Purdue

 

#7 Michigan vs. #10 Oklahoma State

This is one of the most interesting first round games of the NCAA Tournament. You have two of the most under-seeded teams in the tournament facing off in the first round, and this one feels pretty 50/50. The Wolverines are hot off a surprise Big Ten Tournament Championship, but the Cowboys are the most efficient offensive team in the nation according to KenPom, and though they’ve lost their last three, they caught fire at the end of the season. I’m going to take the team that’s a bit hotter right now, but know that this is going to be a really close game.

Prediction: Michigan

 

#8 Northwestern vs. #9 Vanderbilt

I hate to break it to the Wildcats, but they got one of the harder draws in the NCAA Tournament in a very hot Vanderbilt team. The Commodores beat Florida three times this year, and after facing a very difficult slate of teams all year, they seem battle-tested enough to make a splash in the NCAA Tournament. I know it’s the first year Northwestern has made the NCAA Tournament, but I don’t think it’s the first year they win a game in the NCAA Tournament.

Prediction: Vanderbilt

 

#6 Maryland vs. #11 Xavier

Xavier is trending down because of recent losses, but the Musketeers looked sharp after beating Butler in the Big East Tournament. Maryland, on the other hand, is a young team that’s got a stud in Melo Trimble, but this game is going to be very close. While Xavier is much better on the glass, the Terrapins are a great shooting team. I’m going to go out on a limb and say Maryland ends up taking this game, but again, it’s going to be an absolute battle.

Prediction: Maryland

 

#5 Minnesota vs. #12 Middle Tennessee 

Minnesota got an awful draw. This is the best underdog in the league against a team that did not deserve a 5 seed. This would be so much more fair if it were Wisconsin as the 5 against MTU and Minnesota should be playing this one. The Gophers got way too high of a seed, and they’re playing a coin flip game essentially.

Prediction: Middle Tennessee

Grant Labedz

Grant Labedz

Grant Labedz covers Big Ten basketball for The Runner Sports. He's previously written for SB Nation's BT Powerhouse (Big Ten) and The Champaign Room (Illinois). He is the current owner and manager of an Atlantic 10 basketball blog A10Talk.com.
Grant Labedz
  • Crossfire

    Agreed keith, it was a great victory and could be a turning point for the bucs.