Big Ten Tournament Preview

Tournament Teams by Seed:

1.Ohio State:  The Buckeyes enter the BTT on a roll with recent blowouts of Wisconsin, Penn State, Indiana, and Illinois.  The most impressive aspect of the Buckeye’s play of late has been their ability to knock down the three point shot (see John Diebler). I’d like to go on record and state the obvious:  if the Buckeyes continue to shoot at this rate, NO ONE will come close to knocking them off in the BTT or maybe even in the Big Dance.

2.Purdue:  With recently named Big Ten Player of the Year JaJuan Johnson and fellow 1st teamer E’Twuan Moore, you can never count out the Boilers.  Matt Painter has done a great job of navigating this team through adversity and turning them into a legitimate contender for postseason play.

3.Wisconsin:  What can I say about this team?  I hate them.  Most readers know I’m a Michigan fan, so after watching THIS, I have decided I can’t say anything good about them.  Ok I’ll give you this:  Jordan Taylor = Clutch and they are a tough out because of it.

4.Michigan:  After starting the Big Ten season 1-6, this team has really turned it around.  The Wolverines are 8-3 in their last 11 games and seem to be finding their groove, not bad for a team picked to finish in the bottom 3 of the conference.  Although they are playing well, it must be noted that this team is still very young and undersized. Regardless, the future is bright in AA (finally).

5. Illinois:  Let’s all be honest here, next to Michigan State, this team has been the biggest underachiever this year.  The talent and experience on this team is second to none, but they turned in an average regular season.  That being said, Illinois still has a great talent in Demetri McCamey and the supporting cast is capable of putting up big numbers.

6.Michigan State:  Fresh off of being swept by their in-state rival (sorry I had to do it), Sparty limps into the Big Ten Tournament with their at large hopes dwindling.  Besides Kalin Lucas, this team has been, well, garbage of late.  Durrell Summers has disappeared, Draymond Green is largely ineffective, and the supporting cast is the worst Izzo has had in years.  Combine that with the dismissals of Allen and Lucious and it spells early exit doom for the Spartans (enter the “but they have Izzo argument”).

7.Penn State: Talor Battle:  great player and will do anything to lead his team to a win.  Potential dark horse but has a lot of trouble winning outside of Happy Valley.
8.Northwestern:  Northwestern was pegged to finally break through and make the Big Dance this year.  However, this year has been pretty much the same:  give teams a hard time but in the end the talent is just not there.

9.Minnesota:  Minnesota’s year can be summed up like this:  Al Nolen gets hurt; Minnesota’s promising season goes down the tubes.  There isn’t a team playing worse in the Big Ten than the Gophers right now (ok, maybe Indiana).

10.Iowa:  Iowa has some reason to be optimistic. Their young nucleus is very talented and should be able to develop in years to come. However, this year they are merely a threat to get one upset in the BTT.

11.Indiana:  Tom Crean without Dwayne Wade has not been a formula for success regardless of the situation at Indiana.

First Round Games (Thursday, March 10th)

b10bracketBest Game:  Game 2: approx. 5:00 p.m. – Michigan State (7) v. Iowa (10) – MSU will need to pick up a win to stay in the race to get into the Big Dance.  Iowa will be feeding off their recent upset of Purdue to prove that they will be a force to reckon with in the future.  Both teams blew each other out on their home floors. (Prediction:  MSU by 5)

Worst Game:  Game 3: 7:30 p.m. – Penn State (6) v. Indiana (11) – Penn State will roll the Hoosiers in this opening round game.  As mentioned before, Talor Battle will be on a mission to prove that PSU deserves consideration from the NCAA Tournament Committee. (Prediction: PSU by 13)

Players to Watch:  Talor Battle (PSU), Ralph Sampson III (Minn.), and Melsahn Basabe (Iowa).

Second Round Games (Friday, March 11th)

Best Game:  Game 5: approx. 2:30 p.m. – Michigan (4) v. Illinois (5) – With apologies to Wisconsin v. Penn State, this game will provide the most drama.  The only time these teams met was a defensive struggle that ended with a failed buzzer beater attempt by the Wolverines in Champagne. The 4-5 matchups are usually great in this tournament and this one will prove to be the same. (Prediction: UM by 4 in OT) 

Worst Game:  Game 4: 12:00 p.m. – Ohio State (1) v. Northwestern (8) – OSU is on a roll and as mentioned before the Wildcats are the least talented team in the Big Ten.  They seem to give OSU problems sometimes but not this time.  (Prediction: OSU by 14)

Players to Watch:  E’Twuan Moore (Purdue), Tim Hardaway Jr. (Michigan), and William Buford (OSU).

Semifinals (Saturday, March 12th)

Semifinal #1:  1:40 p.m. – Ohio State (1) v. Michigan (4) – OSU has swept the season series between the two teams but both games were highly competitive. Michigan is playing their best ball of the season but so is OSU.  This game will come down to whether Michigan can contain Sullinger and Diebler, like they did in the first two meetings.  Nevertheless, like the first two meetings, OSU will prove to be too strong down the stretch.  (Prediction: OSU by 7)

Semifinal #2:  Approx 4:05 p.m. – Purdue (2) v. Penn State (6) – By now you’ve noticed that I have made at least one bold call for this tournament, Penn State will beat Wisconsin (I think).  However, this game will not have the same outcome.  Purdue has too much down low for the Nittany Lions to handle and they will pull away in the second half thanks to Mr. Johnson.  (Prediction: Purdue by 9)

Players to Watch:  JaJuan Johnson (Purdue), Mr. Sullinger (OSU), and Jeff Brooks (PSU).

Big Ten Final (Sunday, March 13th)

Championship:  3:30 p.m. – Ohio State (1) v. Purdue (2) – Yes I know what you are thinking:  another blogger predicting chalk in the championship game.  Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but this final is happening.  Although Wisconsin is a really good team, both of these teams are superior to everyone else in the conference, by far.  This will be an epic championship game that comes down to the last 3-4 minutes.  In those last 3-4 minutes, a senior will take over the game and deliver the BTT championship to his team.  That senior is E’Twaun Moore.  (Prediction: Purdue by 6, Tourney MVP goes to the hometown hero- JaJuan Johnson)

Players to Watch:  ALL OF THEM.

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