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Big Ten Basketball Tournament Predictions and Simulations: Ohio State Takes Title

COLUMBUS, OH - FEBRUARY 15:  Head coach Thad Matta of the Ohio State Buckeyes looks on from the bench while playing the Michigan State Spartans on February 15, 2011 at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Jake WestrichSenior Writer IMarch 8, 2011

Jon Diebler walked onto Ohio State's campus four years ago as the all-time leading scorer for Ohio high schools (3,208 points). He then spent most of the past four seasons trying to silence critics who said his high school accolades and records would never translate to the college game.

Then, as if he suddenly realized the curtain was about to close on his collegiate career, Diebler erupted in the final two games of the regular season. The sharpshooter connected on 17 of 20 three-pointers (85 percent) in wins over Penn State and Wisconsin. His 10 3-pointers against the Nittany Lions were an Ohio State record for most 3-balls in a game. Diebler's strong kick to the regular-season finish line earned him his first Big Ten player of the week honor.

The Buckeyes mimicked their senior guard's premier play the final two games. Thad Matta's young bunch shot 61.1 percent from the floor and 69.2 percent from behind-the-arc against Penn State and Wisconsin.

Even with the Buckeyes' positive momentum heading into the postseason, some national pundits are concerned with the lack of depth and experience on Ohio State's bench. Freshman bench players Aaron Craft (29.1 minutes per game) and Deshaun Thomas (14.5 mpg) stir up some doubts for those who want to advance the Buckeyes to Houston.

Then again, if you shoot 61.1 percent as a team, the lack of bench and experience are quickly dismissed.

Big Ten Tournament First Round
Matchup Win% Avg Score
Minnesota Golden Gophers40.668
Northwestern Wildcats59.469
Big Ten Tournament First Round
Matchup Win% Avg Score
Iowa Hawkeyes34.765
Michigan State Spartans65.369
Big Ten Tournament First Round
Matchup Win% Avg Score
Indiana Hoosiers44.667
Penn State Nittany Lions55.468

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Michigan State is in danger of missing the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1997. Thousands of people who rely on Tom Izzo and the Spartans advancing to the Sweet 16 in their bracket have started to break out in a cold sweat.

The Spartans need a few Big Ten tournament wins to weasel their way into the dance. Their 17-13 record (9-9 Big Ten) looks worse than it is considering they possessed the ninth-toughest schedule this season. However, getting swept by Michigan for the first time in 14 seasons hurt their postseason resume.

Michigan State took care of business against Iowa in our first-round simulation by knocking out the Hawkeyes 65.3 percent of the time by an average score of 69-65.

Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals
Matchup Win% Avg Score
Northwestern Wildcats24.870
Ohio State Buckeyes75.276
Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals
Matchup Win% Avg Score
Illinois Fighting Illini52.568
Michigan Wolverines47.566
Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals
Matchup Win% Avg Score
Michigan State Spartans41.667
Purdue Boilermakers58.469
Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals
Matchup Win% Avg Score
Penn State Nittany Lions23.862
Wisconsin Badgers76.269


FOXSports.com bracketologist Jordan Schwartz thinks Illinois is playing a virtual NCAA play-in game against Michigan in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals. He also says the loser of the game won't necessarily be eliminated from NCAA tournament consideration.

Now, at face value, the thought of Illinois (19-12) or Michigan (17-13) earning its way into the NCAA tournament screams soft bubble. That is until you dig deeper and peel away the statistical layers of each team's entire body of work.

The Fighting Illini rank 40th in RPI and possess the 17th-toughest schedule. The Wolverines are 56th in RPI with the 18th-toughest schedule.

Illinois won the regular-season meeting by two and our simulation engine predicts the same result, but only 52.5 percent of the simulations.

Big Ten Tournament Semifinals
Matchup Win% Avg Score
Illinois Fighting Illini27.769
Ohio State Buckeyes72.376
Big Ten Tournament Semifinals
Matchup Win% Avg Score
Wisconsin Badgers50.570
Purdue Boilermakers49.569

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Robbie Hummel's second ACL tear at the beginning season could have resulted in a death sentence to Purdue's season. Instead, seniors JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore placed the rest of the Boilermakers on their shoulders. The duo combined to average more than 38 points per game. Matt Painter's team ranked sixth in the Associated Press poll and had won seven straight before Iowa extinguished the flame in their season finale, 67-65.

The Boilermakers split their season-series against Wisconsin with the home team winning on both occasions.

The Badgers won the closest tournament simulation by winning 50.5 percent of the time by an average score of 70-69.

Big Ten Tournament Finals
Matchup Win% Avg Score
Wisconsin Badgers32.768
Ohio State Buckeyes67.372


When the Buckeyes fell to the Badgers inside the Kohl Center, Matta played seven players total. Five players logged 34 or more minutes that game. The other two contributors, Dallas Lauderdale and Thomas, played 12 minutes combined.

The Badgers' 15-0 second-half run was sparked by Jordan Taylor, who scored 21 of his 27 points in the second half. But the junior was held to eight points on 2-of-9 shooting in the blowout-loss at Ohio State on Sunday.

The Buckeyes won more than two-thirds of the 101 simulations over the Badgers by an average score of 72-68.

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