First round — Wednesday, March 13
Game 1: 12 Rutgers vs. 13 Nebraska 6:30 BTN
The Scarlet Knights won the lone meeting between these two teams 76-69 on January 21st, and I like Steve Pikell’s team to sweep the season series on Wednesday. Geo Baker and Eugene Omoruyi will be too tough to handle for the Huskers. A disappointing season for Tim Miles and Nebraska will end with a first round exit.
Prediction: Rutgers 68-63
Game 2: 11 Illinois vs. Northwestern 9:00 BTN
The Illini split the season series with the Wildcats, Brad Underwood’s team should win the rubbermatch. The athleticism of the Illini will make it tough for the Wildcats, and the Illini will advance to play the Hawkeyes on Thursday.
Prediction: Illinois 73-64
Second Round- Thursday March 14th
Game 3: 8 Ohio State vs. 9 Indiana 12:30 BTN
With both teams sitting squarely on the bubble, this game is essentially an NCAA Tournament play-in game. The Buckeyes won the lone meeting during the regular season, and although Kaleb Wesson will be back for the Buckeyes, they will not be able to make consistent shots to beat the Hoosiers. Juwan Morgan and De’ron Davis will both have solid games as the Hoosiers advance to face the top seeded Spartans.
Prediction: Indiana 71-64
Game 4: 5 Maryland vs. 12 Rutgers
The Maryland Terrapins enter the Big Ten tournament as the number 5 seed, and Mark Turgeon’s team is a potential dark horse to win the trophy. The Terrapins will be able to take care of the Scarlet Knights in their first game.
Prediction: Maryland 74-67
Game 5: 7 Minnesota vs. 10 Penn State
Arguably the most underrated game of the second round, as Pat Chamber’s Nittany Lions quietly finished out the Big Ten season winning 6 of their last 8 games. Last March, Lamar Stevens led the Nittany Lions to a NIT Championship, and will keep up his red hot play vs. the Golden Gophers in a first round upset.
Prediction: Penn State 73-70
Game 6: 6 Iowa vs. 11 Illinois
The Iowa Hawkeyes enter the Big Ten Tournament losers of 4 straight and 5 of their last 6. What once looked like a team possible of making the second-weekend, now looks like a team that is just trying to find any sort of momentum. As long as the Hawks don’t give up 80 points, they should be able to defeat the Illini to advance to the quarterfinals.
Prediction: Iowa 81-75
Quarterfinals- Friday, March 15th
Game 7: 1 Michigan State vs. 9 Indiana 12:30 BTN
Tipping off the quarterfinal slate, the 9th seeded Indiana Hoosiers will look to sweep the season series against Tom Izzo’s top seeded Spartans. Big Ten POY Cassius Winston is looking to lead the Spartans to another Big Ten Tournament Championship, and the Spartans will take care of the Hoosiers on Friday.
Prediction: Michigan State 77-66
Game 8: 4 Wisconsin vs. 5 Maryland 3:00 PM BTN
These teams split the season series, with the home team winning it’s respective game. On Friday, the Badgers will slow tempo and limit the Terrapins offensively in a classic Big Ten grinder type of game. This one will go down to the wire, and I like the Badgers to advance to the semis.
Prediction: Wisconsin 65-60
Game 9: 2 Purdue vs. 10 Penn State 7:00 PM BTN
The Purdue Boilermakers will enter the Big Ten tournament as co-Big Ten Champs, and Matt Painter and company will take care of the Nittany Lions in the quarters.
Prediction: Purdue 78-70
Game 10: 3 Michigan vs. 6 Iowa 9:30 BTN
Rounding out the quarterfinal slate, the Michigan Wolverines will be looking for revenge against Fran McCaffery’s Hawkeyes. In their lone meeting this season in Iowa City, the Hawks upset the Wolverines 74-59. If the Hawks allow Michigan to score under 60 points again, I like their chances. Unfortunately, I do not think this will happen, as the Wolverines will advance to face the Boilers on Saturday.
Prediction: Michigan 75-68
Semifinals- Saturday March 14th
Game 11: 1 Michigan State vs. 4 Wisconsin 1:00 PM CBS
In the first semifinal contest, the top seeded Spartans will face the fourth seeded Badgers. Cassius Winston and the pick and roll game will cause too much trouble for Greg Gard’s bunch, and the Spartans will advance to the Sunday .
Prediction: Michigan State 71-64
Game 12: 2 Purdue vs. 3 Michigan 3:30 PM CBS
These teams met once this season in December, with the Wolverines blowing out the Boilermakers in Ann Arbor. The Boilermakers have been a much different team since then, and have always matched up well with the Wolverines. Jon Teske will be the X-Factor in this one, if he is able to stretch Matt Haarms/Trevion Williams out by making 3s, the Wolverines have a good chance of advancing to Sunday. Big Ten COTY Matt Painter and company will advance to the championship for a second straight season.
Prediction: Purdue 74-70
Championship – Sunday, March 17
Game 13: 1 Michigan State vs. 2 Purdue 3:30 PM CBS
Michigan State and Purdue split the season series, and Sunday will provide the rubber match. Big Ten POTY Cassius Winston will prove his worth once again, and the Spartans will hoist the Championship trophy in the Windy City.
Prediction: Michigan State 77-75