Which B1G team can make the deepest Tournament run?
Big Ten Conference Regular Season Finale
Sunday was the finale of the 2021-2022 NCAA men's college basketball regular season. Included in this finale were six matchups within the Big Ten Conference. The final day of the regular season provided more of the same from the conference that has been unpredictable today the least. The day began with an up and down Michigan team upsetting their ranked rivals Ohio State on the road in convincing fashion 75-56, without arguably their best player in Hunter Dickinson. The next to last place Big Ten team, the Nebraska Cornhuskers were able to prevent the Wisconsin Badgers from clinching the conference title outright with a 74-73 upset in Madison. Sunday's Big Ten action concluded with a possible B1G tournament semifinal matchup, where Illinois was able to take advantage of the Badgers’ loss and clinch a share of the Big Ten regular-season title with a 74-72 win over Iowa. Another game with a noteworthy conclusion was the matchup between Maryland and Michigan State. The Spartans’ 77-67 victory marked Tom Izzo’s 663rd, making him the all-time leader in wins in the Big Ten.
Who wins the Big Ten Tournament?
Wisconsin and Illinois finish the regular season sharing a claim to the Big Ten championship, yet it is the Purdue Boilermakers who are the betting favorites to win the conference tournament (+185). After the final weekend of the regular season, Purdue comes in ranked 10th in the nation which is higher than both aforementioned teams who share the Big Ten regular-season title. All of Purdue’s losses this year have been to conference opponents, which explains why they finished 2nd in the Big Ten standings. The Boilermakers had four of their six losses come by the means of a buzzer-beater shot in the waning seconds of the game. The 3rd seeded Purdue team won't see action until Friday night where they will play the winner of Ohio State (6) and either Minnesota (14) or Penn State (11), depending on the outcome of the Wednesday games. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the Big Ten this year is the success of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, who finished 4th in the standings, the program's best year since joining the conference in the 2014-2015 season. The Scarlet Knights split their regular-season games with both conference champions and the Purdue Boilermakers. Their marquee win over Purdue came when the Boilermakers were the number one ranked team in the nation and Ron Harper Jr, the son of the 5-time NBA champion, hit a three-point shot with a second to spare. Despite the success that Rutgers has had this season, the bettors don't seem to have much faith in the Scarlet Knights as they come in as the 7th favorite team to win the B1G tournament (+1500).
The defending B1G Tournament champs, the Fighting Illini are being given the second-best chance to make it out of this weekend unscathed (+380). If this humble sportswriter were to put money on a team to win the entire tournament, it would be Illinois. I am not wagering anything on the outcome of the B1G Tournament, simply because of the volatility of the conference, as well as the inconsistency from the teams at the top. This is a season where the Big Ten Tournament is truthfully up for grabs. At least 5 teams have a realistic chance of being crowned the champion. Fans of the Michigan Wolverines are reminiscent of the last time they were the 8th seen in the Big Ten Tournament in 2017. The Wolverines’ flight to D.C. had some serious complications and the team won their first game in practice jerseys and subsequently went on to win the B1G and became the lowest seed ever to do so. Michigan fans are also anxious about the fact that their 11:30 AM matchup against the Indiana Hoosiers marks the return of their head ball coach Juwan Howard, who is coming off his 5 game suspension. Those rooting for the Michigan State Spartans, the program that boasts the most B1G Tournament championships (6), are confident because their path to the championship is laden with teams they have had success against this season. It doesn't hurt that they have the winningest Big Ten coach of all time. Though there is no way of predicting who comes out on top in a conference that has been unpredictable, night to night this season, one thing is certain, it's going to be entertaining, and there is going to be drama. The first game of the Big Ten Tournament will tip-off Wednesday, March 9th at 6:00 PM between Nebraska (13) and Northwestern (12) on the Big Ten Network.
Full B1G Tournament Odds
Ohio State (+1200)
Michigan State (+2500)
Penn State (+20,000)
Odds courtesy of www.draftkings.com