The 2013 Big Ten Tournament will be the most anticipated conference tournament in the United States this upcoming week, due to the quality of the league’s top teams. Here’s a look at the college basketball betting matchups we project:
2013 Big Ten Tournament Preview: Tournament Schedule
First Round – Thursday, March 14
(12) Penn State Nittany Lions vs. (5) Michigan Wolverines
(9) Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. (8) Illinois Fighting Illini
Penn State upset Michigan last week, so the Wolverines should be focused and ready to get revenge against the Nittany Lions. Michigan has struggled with PSU’s offensive sets. Expect a strong defensive effort from the Wolverines here. In the other game, Minnesota has been awful away from home, while Illinois has been only slightly less awful. The Golden Gophers are such a fragile team, and since they’re playing Illinois in Chicago, they will probably face a hostile environment, one they will not be able to overcome.
(11) Northwestern Wildcats vs. (6) Iowa Hawkeyes
(10) Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. (7) Purdue Boilermakers
Northwestern plays some teams in the Big Ten tough, such as Ohio State and Michigan State, but for whatever reason, it does not play well against Iowa. The Hawkeyes love this matchup, and since Iowa is trying to play its way back into the NCAA tournament conversation, it should be able to play with the concentration it needs at both ends of the floor. Purdue has been getting a lot better in recent weeks. The Boilermakers were atrocious in January, but they now have the look of a very dangerous team in Chicago. They should wallop Nebraska on Thursday.
Quarterfinals – Friday, March 15
Penn State/Michigan vs. (4) Wisconsin Badgers
Minnesota/Illinois vs. (1) Indiana Hoosiers
Michigan versus Wisconsin would make for a fascinating battle. Michigan led by three points at Wisconsin a month ago, and the Badgers had just 2.4 seconds in which to make a three-pointer from the opposite baseline, 94 feet from their basket. After an outlet pass, a catch, and two dribbles, UW’s Ben Brust hit a leaning 40-footer at the buzzer to send the game into overtime. Wisconsin won, giving Michigan a stinging loss. Expect the Wolverines to play very hard in an attempt to get revenge. Indiana will be physically and mentally fresh for this game against Illinois. The Illini upset the Hoosiers on Illinois’ home floor, so one should think that Indiana will be able to get even.
Northwestern/Iowa vs. (3) Michigan State Spartans
Nebraska/Purdue vs. (2) Ohio State Buckeyes
Michigan State should be able to take care of Iowa. The Hawkeyes are not consistent enough at the offensive end of the floor. Ohio State should be able to handle Purdue for a very similar reason. The Boilermakers’ top offensive threats duck in and out of games and have not been relentlessly steady this year.
Semifinals – Saturday, March 16
Projected matchups: Michigan vs. Indiana and Michigan State vs. Ohio State
Michigan lost twice to Indiana this season, including a heartbreaker this past Sunday. Michigan led by five points in the final minute but missed the front ends of consecutive one-and-ones. Indiana scored the go-ahead bucket with under 20 seconds left, and a Michigan putback attempt rolled teasingly off the rim in the final seconds. Michigan will want to take care of unfinished business, and that will give UM an edge against the Hoosiers. Ohio State’s defense has been the best in the Big Ten over the past two weeks. The Buckeyes should be able to clamp down on Michigan State’s struggling guards.
Championship – Sunday, March 17
Projected matchup: Michigan vs. Ohio State
These teams split games at home and on the road, but Ohio State is the team that has improved more than any other in the Big Ten since the middle of February. The Buckeyes are in great position to win this tournament.
Pick: Ohio State To Win The Big Ten Championship
Here’s a look at the betting odds to win the Big 10 Conference Championships
OHIO STATE +310
MICHIGAN STATE +400