Big Ten Tournament 2012: Odds for Every Team to Win Big Ten Crown
The Big Ten is the deepest and most talented conference in college basketball this season, and I believe the Big Ten tournament will substantiate this claim.
In 2011-2012, Michigan State, Ohio State and the University of Michigan split the Big Ten title in the regular season.
All three of these teams will prove to be very dangerous in March Madness.
In order to predict the odds for each team to win the Big Ten tournament, I have divided the Big Ten conference into four divisions—the cream of the crop, the contenders, the long shots and the hopeless.
The Cream of the Crop
No. 1 Seed: Michigan State
The Spartans were certainly impressive this season, although they ended with two straight tough losses against Indiana and Ohio State.
Just winning one of these games would have secured an outright Big Ten title.
Michigan State had the hardest strength of schedule (SOS) in the country, so they are accustomed to playing top competition.
Draymond Green is the Big Ten Player of the Year, and Keith Appling is an explosive guard. If there is one thing I have come to learn, never doubt Tom Izzo.
No. 2 Seed: Michigan
The Wolverines have been a pleasant surprise in the Big Ten. Coach Beilein is a class act with a superb basketball mind. His offense is extremely complicated, predicated on multiple off-ball screens and slashes to the basket.
On defense, Beilein loves to mix in his 1-3-1 zone to confuse the opponent. Trey Burke has been incredible this season, and this Wolverine squad looks poised to make some noise in the NCAA tournament.
In order to win the Big Ten tournament, Michigan would probably need to take down the Spartans and the Buckeyes.
No. 3 Seed: Ohio State
The Buckeyes are coming off of an impressive comeback win against Michigan State.
Jared Sullinger has been as solid as any big man in the country. Aaron Craft is a "crafty" point guard who wreaks havoc on the defensive end. William Buford is a streaky shooter on the outside who can catch fire at any time.
Ohio State has a lot of momentum coming into this Big Ten tournament and should be a very tough out.
No. 4 Seed: Wisconsin
Bo Ryan's squad struggled at times this season but finished with a solid 23-8 record overall and 12-6 in the Big Ten.
Their impressive record is due mostly to their suffocating defense—they are ranked first in the country in points allowed per game (51.9).
Jordan Taylor took a major step back from his performance in '10-'11.
Wisconsin's offense struggles at times, and they will go on long scoring droughts due to a lack of a legitimate scorer. Nonetheless, Wisconsin is a gritty team that can can cause problems for many teams.
No. 5 Seed: Indiana
The Hoosiers have experienced the best turnaround in college basketball this season. Last year, they were a joke, sporting a 12-20 overall record and 3-15 in the Big Ten.
In '11-'12, it was a completely different story for Tom Crean's team. Cody Zeller is a fantastic freshman talent, Christian Watford is a dangerous scorer and Jordan Hulls can shoot from anywhere past the mid-court line.
Not to mention, the Hoosiers beat the No.1, No. 2 and No.3 ranked teams this season.
No. 6 Seed: Purdue
The Boilermakers did not enjoy the same success that they have in the past few seasons, but they are still a talented team.
Robbie Hummel is one of the best players in the Big Ten, averaging 17 points and seven rebounds per game. Purdue has enjoyed solid contributions from Ryne Smith, D.J. Byrd and Terone Johnson.
Matt Painter's team plays smartly but is definitely more vulnerable than they used to be.
The Long Shots
No. 7 Seed: Northwestern
The Wildcats are probably the team with the most to lose and the most to gain in the Big Ten tournament.
Right now, ESPN's Joe Lunardi has Northwestern as one of his last four teams in the Big Dance, which provides anything but comfort for the Wildcats.
Unfortunately for Northwestern, they had some tough conferences losses down the stretch, including two to Michigan in OT and a loss at the buzzer to Ohio State.
Jon Shurna will have to come up big yet again for the Wildcats, and they need to look at their first matchup against Minnesota as a must-win.
No. 8 Seed: Iowa
The Hawkeyes struggled in Big Ten play this year, compiling a sub-.500 record (8-10), although they had impressive victories over Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin.
Matt Gatens was excellent this year, averaging a hair under 16 points per game (15.7), and Aaron White got mild consideration for Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Even so, I don't see Iowa busting any Big Ten brackets.
No. 9 Seed: Illinois
The Fighting Illini started off the season hot, going 15-3 in their first 18 games.
However, Illinois finished off the season on a sour note, and that is putting it nicely. Illinois dropped 11 of their last 13 conference games, and they were not very competitive in many of them. Brandon Paul and Meyers Leonard are very talented, but the rest of the squad has not been anything to write home about.
No. 10 Seed: Minnesota
Minnesota started the season 12-1, taking advantage of a very soft schedule.
However, things took a turn for the worse, as they ended the season losing 12 of their remaining 18 games.
Trevor Mbakwe and Rodney Williams are solid players, but that's about all the Golden Gophers have going for them.
No. 11 Seed: Nebraska
Nebraska did not enjoy their inaugural season in the Big Ten, as they were 4-14 in conference play. Besides their senior guard Bo Spencer, the Cornhuskers' roster is alarmingly pedestrian.
Needless to say, Nebraska has a long way to go.
No. 12 Seed: Penn State
The Nittany Lions had a tough football season to say the least, and basketball did not go much better. Record-wise, they were the worst team in the Big Ten, with a 12-19 overall record and 4-14 in the conference.
Tim Frazier is a terrific junior guard who led the team in all of the major categories (points, rebounds and assists), but the rest of the Penn State roster struggles mightily on the offensive end.