Big Ten Tournament 2013: Predictions for Each Game of the Tournament
From top to bottom the Big Ten conference has been the best all season.
Teams have fluctuated in and out of the rankings, but the best in the conference who have managed to survive the brutal schedule have been rewarded and are ranked as some of the best teams in college basketball.
You can not get a much better tournament than the one that will take place this weekend in Chicago.
Here are predictions for each game of the 2013 Big Ten Tournament.
Minnesota vs. Illinois
Illinois and Minnesota have both shown just how brutal the Big Ten schedule is. They have both been ranked very highly this season, but because of their brutal schedules they have both been left with 8-10 conference records.
From the start, this game will be closely contested just like any Big Ten game. The winner gets a near death sentence by moving on to take on Indiana, but there is something unique about Illinois and Minnesota. They both have so much talent, that they were both able to beat Indiana this season.
Both these teams are great, and the game will show that. Illinois escapes because of their defense though.
Penn State vs. Michigan
When the No. 6 ranked team in the entire country only gets the No. 5 seed in the Big Ten conference tournament, then you know how hard the Big Ten is.
This seems like an easy win for Michigan, but one of the big reasons the Wolverines do not have a first round bye is because they lost to Penn State in February. Still, this game should be fairly easy for Michigan to win.
Northwestern vs. Iowa
The Hawkeyes have played their way back into discussion for a berth in the NCAA Tournament, but they will definitely have to get a win in the Big Ten Tournament.
Iowa has handled the Wildcats fairly easily both times that they met this season, and they are playing really good basketball right now. The Wildcats' struggles will continue as they get bounced early in the Big Ten Tournament.
Nebraska vs. Purdue
Nebraska came to play in the Big Ten mainly because of football. Its basketball has not really been very competitive in Big Ten play, to say the least.
Purdue on the other hand, has played some really good basketball at times this season. The Boilermakers had a terrible nonconference season though and would certainly have to make a dream run all the way to the Big Ten title if they want to dance next week. They start that potential run with a win over Nebraska.
Illinois vs. Indiana
Illinois defeated Indiana on a buzzer beater layup from Tyler Griffey. The win has given Illinois enough of a case to make it into the NCAA Tournament, but a win against the Hoosiers again would really improve their seeding.
Indiana knows that Illinois is dangerous though, and will be ready to play against them in this quarterfinal matchup. Expect Illinois to fight, but Indiana is simply too good for the Fighting Illini.
Michigan vs. Wisconsin
Michigan had Wisconsin beat when they met in February. That was until Wisconsin heaved up a prayer that was answered from half court. Wisconsin ended up winning that game in overtime.
This one should be another classic. The Wolverines showed on Sunday that they are starting to play very good basketball once again. When they are at their best offensively, the Wolverines are one of the best teams in the country. They will be at their best against Wisconsin.
Iowa vs. Michigan State
The Spartans won a close game when they played Iowa in January. It is March though, and that means the Spartans will be ready to play.
Michigan State transforms from a very good team into a great team when the calendar hits March, and the same will hold true this year. Iowa may still make the NCAA Tournament, but they will not be reaching the Big Ten Tournament semifinals.
Pick: Michigan State
Purdue vs. Ohio State
The Buckeyes have turned into a machine. They have won five straight and are playing some of their best basketball of the season right now.
Ohio State was able to beat Purdue when the two teams met up early on this season, but the Buckeyes are playing too well for the Boilermakers right now. The Buckeyes advance, while Purdue's season comes to a close.
Pick: Ohio State
Michigan vs. Indiana
If their meeting last Sunday was not exciting enough, we get to see another exciting showdown between two of the best teams in the country. Indiana survived Michigan on Sunday to win the Big Ten title outright, but the Wolverines will be ready to finish the job this time.
Indiana may simply be too strong though. They are very balanced all over the court and have guys like Victor Oladipo who can guard Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr.
The Buckeyes and Spartans split the season series this year, and with both teams playing great basketball in March, this should be an outstanding semifinal battle.
The Buckeyes look too tough right now though. They beat the Spartans just a few weeks ago and are playing their best basketball of the season. Deshaun Thomas has been outstanding for the Buckeyes, and he will continue to be in the Big Ten Tournament.
Pick: Ohio State
Ohio State vs. Indiana
Indiana and Ohio State split the season series, but both teams were unique in that they won on the road rather than at home.
Ohio State showed last week that they can definitely play with the Hoosiers, but although Ohio State is hot, Indiana is still one of the best teams in the country.
The Hoosiers have played great all season long, and they will add a conference tournament title to their resume by beating Ohio State.