Today marks the start of the playoff season in the Big Ten conference. Reason being that the conference schedule in this conference started before the other conferences. With that being said, we made it to playoff action.
In the Big Ten, the top four teams all get double byes, or a straight pass to the quarterfinal round. This regular season the Michigan State Spartans won the conference outright. They get a double bye with the Ohio State Buckeyes, Purdue Boilermakers, and Nebraska Cornhuskers take the last three double byes.
All of these teams will begin play on Saturday. The rest of the standings are as followed…
The last four teams are playing today in the first round. The other six teams just get a bye into the second round of the tournament.
First game: Illinois Vs. Iowa matchup is very intriguing to me. Both of these teams have great, young talent on their squad. If I had to pick a team out of the bottom four to win it all though it would definitely be Iowa. At their highest potential with Garza, Bohannon, and definitely Cook they’ve got a mini big three. The potential matchup of a Black/Garza and Bohannon/Frazier will definitely keep this game close and exciting. Their only meeting of the season was an Iowa win, 104-97 in OT.
Second game: Minnesota Vs. Rutgers is going to be a blowout. Minnesota beats Rutgers by 22 earlier in conference play, but did lose a few players. Still think Minnesota, which was a ranked team at the beginning of the year are better coached and still have more talent than this Rutgers squad.
First Game: Wisconsin Vs. Maryland will be entertaining because of how well Wisconsin has played lately and how terribly Maryland closed out their season. Maryland lead by Cowan Jr. finished their season being blown out by Michigan at home. Wisconsin was on a three game winning streak before losing by five to top ranked, Michigan State. Ethan Happ, who was selected to the Big Ten all conference team has an edge in experience. Maryland won the last meeting, but I think experience and good play recently prevails and Wisconsin finds a way to get it down, as they’ve been doing.
Second Game: Michigan is the hottest team in the Big Ten. The performance they just wrapped up their regular season with against Maryland really helps this claim. You have a gritty defensive team which is lead by Xavier Simpson on that side of the ball, that will knock down threes at a high rate. Now that senior Duncan Robinson and freshman Jordan Poole have been consistently putting in good performances together, they are just as deep as any team in the nation. Michigan should prevail in this round.
Third Game: The zone of Northwestern Vs. Tony Carr’s shooting… this is a very tough one, but I’m going Northwestern because of how they play defense. They will play an aggressive zone that is hard to break down and wears you down. Tony Carr is a one man show for the most part and I think Northwestern’s defense makes it hard for teams like this to win games.
Fourth Game: This is where Minnesota’s season ends. Indiana’s double-double machine Juwan Morgan will terrorize this team down low as he did in their last meeting putting up 19 & 9. The Hoosiers went on to win that game by twenty-four and I’ve got a feeling the same thing happens here.
Game 1: Wisconsin just met Michigan State on Sunday. Wisconsin playing some of their best ball would take Sparty down to the wire, but could not prevail. Sparty would take this game by 5, but Brad Davidson made his presence known scoring 30 points. With that being said, Ethan Happ did not have his best day on a basketball court. Brad won’t play as well, Ethan won’t play as bad and that’ll probably even out. There’s always that one surprise though, Wisconsin is it this year. With drama in Lansing, Wisconsin will give them a two week break to figure things out.
Game 2: Michigan got outplayed in Lincoln earlier this year. This one the Cornhuskers don’t have home court advantage where they were 11-1 this year. Michigan again is playing their best ball of the season. On a neutral court in New York City the Wolverines will take this game, but it will come down to a late game thriller. Coaching will matter big time in this game.
The other two games I believe are just obvious picks. Indiana’s biggest threat will be limited against Purdue who have a couple talented BIG men of their own. Also, Ohio State will be too much for Northwestern to handle. Usually I will go with a defensive team like Northwestern, but Ohio State can attack you in too many ways.
Semis: Michigan beat Wisconsin in Madison earlier this month. That game was always controlled by Michigan outside a few minute stretch where Wisconsin mounted a mini comeback. Wisconsin Cinderella like story will end here after a very hard fought game against Michigan State.
My potential match of the tournament, Purdue Vs. Ohio State! Ohio State beat Purdue by one on the road on the seventh of this month, but Haas and Carson Edwards were phenomenal in the matchup. Diop for Ohio State was a huge bright spot in that win. In this matchup I think you see a heavy dose of both Diop and Haas.
To me, the more talented player and guy I’d trust to get the job done would be Diop. Ohio State is also young and has ups and downs from time to time. I think Ohio State plays a lot better in this game than they did earlier in the month and wins by eight.
Championship Game: Michigan Vs. Ohio State- This is interesting because these are two teams that match-up pretty much position for position very well. I do believe Michigan is deeper with their bench and can go to a variety of options if nothing is working, but I think Ohio State needs this one for a young team going into March. Michigan has been here just last year in the emotional win after their plane crashed. It’s Ohio State’s time, though. They will turn it up and prove a lot of doubters wrong in this tournament. I don’t this game will be easy for them. Actually think they’ll go into the half down, but come back to win.
I think four teams from the big ten make the NCAA tournament: Ohio State, Michigan, Purdue, Michigan State