Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Big Ten Tournament Predictions
The Big Ten Tournament gets started on Thursday. This year’s tournament features nine team that I think could legitimately make a run and win. It should be an exciting week in Indianapolis. Here are my picks for each game (which are sure to be completely wrong after the first day)
No. 8 Indiana vs. No. 9 Illinois: Indiana has a good opening matchup, as the Hoosiers face a team that aren’t offensively gifted. Look for the Hoosiers to clamp down on defense and use the Indiana crowd to carry them to a victory.
No. 5 Ohio State vs. No. 12 Purdue: Purdue has been in a free fall for a few weeks now and I don’t expect that to change against the defensively strong Buckeyes. Look for Ohio State to win.
No. 7 Minnesota vs. No. 10 Penn State: The Gophers are a team that could win the whole thing, but they can also lose this opener to Penn State. I think they do enough to find a way to beat the Nittany Lions.
No. 6 Iowa vs. No. 11 Northwestern: Northwestern looked like it might have a respectable Big Ten season this year, but then lost seven straight. Iowa is a team that could use a strong performance this week to really improve its NCAA Tournament seeding. Look for Iowa to win.
No. 1 Michigan vs. No. 8 Indiana: The Wolverines and Hoosiers have been evenly matched in the two games this season. It will be a tough opening game for Michigan, but I think the Wolverines find a way to get it done against the Hoosiers.
No. 4 Nebraska vs. No. 5 Ohio State: I really like Tim Miles and what he has done with the Cornhuskers, but I still have trouble predicting them to beat any of the top tier Big Ten teams. I think Ohio State’s defense will allow them to get past the Huskers.
No. 2 Wisconsin vs. No. 7 Minnesota: I am calling for an upset in this one. The Gophers seem to play better against the strong Big Ten teams and there is something about the Badgers I just don’t trust. Though they are slated to earn the best seed in the NCAA Tournament out of the conference, I just don’t see them making a run this weekend or next.
No. 3 Michigan State vs. No. 6 Iowa: Can Michigan State get it figured out? They seemed to take a step toward that at home against Iowa, but then lost on the road to Ohio State. The Spartans will have to shoot well against the Hawkeyes, which Iowa usually allows, but I am going to predict Iowa in an upset on Friday. I think this weekend will be the weekend the Hawkeyes show their best stuff.
No. 1 Michigan vs. No. 5 Ohio State: Michigan has the scorers to beat Ohio State and getting another shot at your rival always helps. The Wolverines will win this game behind their guards and Ohio State’s lack of ability to match Michigan score-for-score.
No. 6 Iowa vs. No. 7 Minnesota: Similar to the other semifinal, I don’t think Minnesota will be able to consistently find the offense to keep pace with Iowa. The Hawkeyes can be difficult to slow down once they get going.
No. 1 Michigan vs. No. 6 Iowa: Iowa really needs this championship to help define its season and take a step as a program. The Hawkeyes are one of those dangerous teams that has the talent, but hasn’t found the formula. Perhaps I am crazy to pick Iowa to win the Big Ten Tournament, but I feel like taking a chance this week. Motivation in a conference tournament can be tough for teams that have established their NCAA Tournament seeding. Iowa has a chance to improve their seeding this week and build momentum for next weekend. This championship game would be a shootout, but I pick Iowa to win. The Hawkeyes gave Michigan problems during the season and just seem to be a matchup problem for them.