The Big Ten tournament runs from March 13-16 and takes place at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind. Heading in, the Michigan Wolverines have to be considered the favorites after winning the regular-season title.
Things can certainly change in the conference tournament, though.
At least three other teams could get hot and make a run at the postseason title. As drama and close games are concerned, the Big Ten tournament could feature the best action of all the conference tournaments.
Let's look at the teams to watch.
The Wolverines won the regular-season conference title in a cakewalk. The team was 15-3 during conference play, which was a full three games better than its closest competitors.
Nik Stauskas is one of the nation's best shooting guards. He has underrated ball-handling and finishing skills. To add to those abilities, Stauskas also makes 49 percent of his three-point attempts.
Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman talks about Stauskas' development:
Nik Stauskas skipped about three stages in the developmental process. Went from one-dimensional shooter to an offensive Swiss Army knife.— Jonathan Wasserman (@NBADraftWass) March 9, 2014
He averages 17.4 points per game and is one of the favorites to win Big Ten Player of the Year. The Wolverines' supporting cast is unselfish and versatile. As a team, they shoot just under 40 percent from beyond the arc.
They also knock down 76 percent of their free throws. Michigan is built to win close games, and that's why it deserves to be considered favorites in the conference tournament.
Other Teams to Watch
Michigan State Spartans
Despite dropping three of its last four regular-season games, the Spartans are a quality team. After losing a heart-breaking close game in the regular-season finale against the Ohio State Buckeyes on Sunday, head coach Tom Izzo wasn't happy.
The Spartans turned the ball over on five of their last nine possessions. Per Zac Jackson of Fox Sports Ohio, here's how Izzo reacted when he was asked about his frustration level after the game:
Izzo was asked if this is the most frustrated he's been after a game this year: "Yes, yes, yes. by far."— Zac Jackson (@FSOhioZJackson) March 9, 2014
It's almost a given that the team will be put through the paces after a disappointing performance. Don't be shocked if they're even better for it during tournament play.
Izzo is one of the premier coaches in the game, and the talent is there. This is still a dangerous team.
Because they flat out defend, the Badgers have a chance to knock off just about any team. On offense, Wisconsin might be the most balanced team in the league. Four players average double figures, led by Frank Kaminsky's 13.4 points per game.
The downside to that makeup is that it lacks a real go-to player down the stretch.
In close games, it's nice to have a player who can simply take the ball to the hole and get a bucket, or at least two free-throw attempts.
We'll see if the Badgers can do it by committee.
Ohio State Buckeyes
After their emotional win over the Spartans on senior day, the Buckeyes' confidence should be at an all-time high. There were issues with free throws in the game, but behind Aaron Craft, the team gutted out a win.
LaQuinton Ross and Craft are obviously big factors for Ohio State, but the key to success in the postseason will be the play of junior Sam Thompson. The uber-athletic swingman is a spark plug and ignitor for the team.
When he plays well, the Buckeyes are like a different team. In Ohio State's eight losses, Thompson has only scored double figures in two of them. The team is 6-1 in games when he scores 12 or more points.
He is the X-factor.
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