The Big Ten is the best conference in all of college hoops this year, and the Big Ten tournament is proving to give the fans lots of fireworks.
The conference itself is incredibly deep, and though Indiana is the clear top dog, how far they or any team gets is really anyone's guess.
From the Ohio State Buckeyes to the Wisconsin Badgers, this is a conference where upsets are definitely prone to happening, and the conference tournament is where some of the biggest could go down.
Now, apart from putting my passion for sports and sports history online for devoted readers day after day, another thing I love to do is play psychic and predict just how certain games and tournaments will play out. This is, after all, March Madness, and everyone should be in that mode.
Thus, with Selection Sunday approaching and the Big Ten tournament in full swing, here's a prediction of how the rest of the tourney will go down.
No. 4 Wisconsin vs. No. 5 Michigan
We've got three quarterfinal games coming up today, each of which should provide plenty of drama for the college hoops fan.
First is a grudge match between the No. 5 seeded Michigan Wolverines and No. 4 seeded Wisconsin Badgers. Though Michigan is the better team on paper, mark my words. This game is going to be close and intense from start to finish.
Wisconsin actually beat Michigan in an overtime stunner back on Feb. 9, and the Wolverines are sure to be out for revenge now that the conference tournament has come along.
In this case, head coach John Beilein's men will achieve their goal on the backs of great performances from Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke, who will each score in double figures and hit key three-pointers en route to victory.
Wisconsin may be the superior rebounding team, but the Wolverines will pick and pop their way to a win with an extremely effective offensive attack. As a result, they will earn themselves a spot in the semifinals against Indiana, who defeated Illinois 80-64.
No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 10 Nebraska
Nebraska has some momentum at its back thanks to a stunning win over Purdue, but the Huskers are about to run into a buzzsaw in the form of the Buckeyes.
Not only did Ohio State sweep the season series against Nebraska, but their deadly tandem of Aaron Craft (4.5 APG, 2.0 SPG) and Deshaun Thomas (19.7 PPG, 6.1 RPG) has proven to be a duo incredibly tough to slow down when hot.
Moreover, Cornhuskers leading scorer Dylan Talley has only shot 37 percent from the field on the season. Unless Ohio State's defense immediately turns into Swiss cheese, then Nebraska has zero chance.
That means that the Buckeyes will run the table in their matchup with the Cornhuskers and earn a spot in the semifinals.
No. 3 Michigan State vs. No. 6 Iowa
Per usual, the Spartans are a team expected to make some noise in the big dance and are definitely the favorites heading into tonight's game against Iowa. After all, they did defeat the Hawkeyes back on Jan. 10.
However, that game was only won 62-59.
Iowa may not be a Big Ten powerhouse compared to some of its conference rivals, but they are still 11th in the nation in rebounding and 26th in passing, compared to Michigan State's rankings of 54th and 123rd in the same statistics.
Just the same, Michigan State is Michigan State for a reason. Tom Izzo's experience on the sidelines will be enough to keep his team ahead in this close game, earning a visit with Ohio State in the semis.
No. 1 Indiana vs. No. 5 Michigan
Indiana did indeed sweep the season series against Michigan this season, but to say this game is in the bag for them is anything but guaranteed.
In the second meeting between both teams on March 10, the Hoosiers needed a second half comeback to pull off the 72-71 victory thanks to a Cody Zeller layup as time wound down.
That said, the Wolverines are surely going to be treating this like a revenge game. It's going to be incredibly close from start to finish, and adrenaline is going to be sky high with a trip to the Big Ten championship game on the line.
In this case, the Hoosiers will win once again. Nothing against Michigan, but the team is nowhere near as deep and dynamic as Tom Crean's squad. While Michigan has two key weapons in Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke, Indiana has multiple options beyond Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo.
As a result, in a game that's sure to be incredibly physical on both ends, Indiana will fight and claw its way to the title game.
No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Michigan State
The Buckeyes and the Spartans split the season series, making their potential semifinals matchup particularly interesting. Tom Izzo and Thad Matta are set to go against each other in yet another coaching chess match this season, and the winner gets a chance at stunning Indiana in the title game.
In this case, I'm picking Michigan State to make that trip. Ohio State is incredibly talented, but their presence in the paint just isn't as strong as that of the Spartans.
Seeing as how Michigan State has more size in the form of Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne, plus two solid guards in Keith Appling and Gary Harris, the Spartans will ride a second-half surge to a stunning upset of the Buckeyes, thus setting themselves up for a title game meeting with Indiana.
No. 1 Indiana vs. No. 3 Michigan State
Indiana beat Michigan State twice already this season but only by a combined margin of nine points. On top of that, the Spartans out-rebounded them 61-55 over the course of both games.
With Indiana ranked 19th in the nation in rebounding compared to Michigan State, who ranks 54th, this could definitely play a role in a potential championship game between the two.
Just the same, the Hoosiers are going win this one...and handily. They are the second best scoring team in the country for a reason, and their overall depth is going to be no match for Michigan State.
Cody Zeller will lead the way in scoring and have a solid rebounding game once again, while Victor Oladipo slashes and dashes his way to the hoop whenever he has the ball. Michigan State will have no answer for either of them, and key baskets from Will Sheehey and Jordan Hulls will swing the pendulum into Indiana's favor for good.
The team will thus become the latest Big Ten champions, assuring themselves a No. 1 seed come Selection Sunday.
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