The NCAA season has reached it first round of the postseason. With the regular season now in the books, we are in the heart of the conference tournaments. Come Wednesday, March 8th, a good majority of the conferences will have started their respective tournaments. Several tickets have already have been punched, with more to come each and every day in the coming week.
One of the tournaments that will be tipping off for the first time on Wednesday will be the Big 10 Conference Tournament. Here at INSC we have you covered, with predictions down below. This tourney will conclude on Sunday, March 12th.
You can check out the seedings and a link to the bracket below.
(5) Michigan State
(11) Ohio State
(13) Penn State
One thing we know, the Big 10 will have a handful of bids in the NCAA Tournament. What we do not know, how many? There are plenty of bubble teams in here, so these games will be critical.
We open with a first round that consists of two games. Those two games will be Nebraska vs Penn State, with the winner getting Michigan State and Ohio State vs Rutgers, with the winner getting Northwestern. I will take Penn State 72-71 and Ohio State 69-67.
That moves us into round two of Big 10 play, which will feature four games. The top four seeds will await the winners of these games. First up we have Illinois and Michigan, with a date against Purdue on the line. Next up is Penn State and Michigan State, with a game against Minnesota on the line. Third, we will get Iowa and Indiana with the winner getting Wisconsin. Finally, Ohio State and Northwestern square off with the right to face Maryland. I see these games being won by Michigan 72-66, Penn State 72-70, Indiana 82-73 and Northwestern 71-69.
That would mean Purdue opens things up against bubble team Michigan. A win here would likely solidify things for the Wolverines. Now I have liked what I have seen out of Michigan when I watched them play this season. But I can say the same about Purdue. Purdue is hands down the best team in this conference, and likely the only one capable of doing much damage in the NCAA Tournament. Give me the Boiler Makers, 74-72 in a fun game.
Minnesota then gets the lucky draw of getting to face Penn State. Things will be a little closer than you would think, but that is more because Minnesota is only decent, not great. But they can walk away from this one to advance to their game with Purdue thanks to a 75-72 win.
Wisconsin has been trending in the wrong direction for a few weeks now. So a game against Indiana here is far from a given. Indiana is not that bad of a team, so this one will certainly be close. With Wisconsin moving in the wrong direction, here comes our first major upset. Indiana moves on by the score of 72-70.
Maryland is another team that simply has not looked good recently. They need some big wins to put themselves in the position to scare opponents come the Big Dance. Here they face off against Northwestern, who is also set to go to the biggest tournament of the year. I simply have a hard time picking a club I have little faith in. That is the case with the Terrapins, so give me Northwestern, 73-72.
So our first semifinal game will see Purdue take on Minnesota. I won’t waste much time here. I am pretty high on Purdue, while Minnesota is merely average. Purdue will walk away with a double-digit win, 81-71.
The next semifinal game will be a lot more interesting. Indiana is not likely to be tournament bound unless they can win two more here. Northwestern could do wonders in terms of seeding with a Big 10 tournament win. So needless to say, a lot rides on this game, with the prize being a game against Purdue. I may be crazy, but I actually like the 10 seed in this one. Give me the Hoosiers, 76-68.
So our final will pit the top seed against a double-digit seed. Purdue will certainly be the heavy favorites in this game. Few will give Indiana much of a chance, with bubble teams around the country rooting like hell for Purdue. But this one will be a lot closer than many will expect. However, Purdue will still come out on top, crushing Indiana’s hopes. Purdue comes out the winner, 74-72 to claim the conference’s auto bid.
So what do you think? Who will emerge with a NCAA Tournament bid? Will it be an upset, or will the top seed claim their auto bid? Tell us in the comments!