Big Ten Tournament 2021: Bracket Seeds, Odds, Matchups and Predictions

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMarch 9, 2021

Illinois' Ayo Dosunmu (11) dribbles during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Indiana, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, in Bloomington, Ind. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Darron Cummings/Associated Press

The Michigan Wolverines are listed as the Big Ten tournament favorite, but the past week has proved anything is possible in this conference. 

Juwan Howard's team had appeared to be untouchable but then lost two of its final three games to Illinois and Michigan State. 

The Fighting Illini are one of the many teams listed above +300 that could cut down the nets in Indianapolis instead of the Wolverines. 

Before the top four seeds take to the floor on Friday, a few programs in need of positive results will hit the hardwood, including Michigan State and the Maryland Terrapins.

The Spartans come into the tournament as the hotter team and could go from bubble team to surefire lock in the span of three weeks if they beat the Terps.


Big Ten Tournament Bracket and Schedule

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Big Ten Tournament Odds

Michigan (+175; bet $100 to win $175)

Illinois (+320)

Iowa (+425)

Purdue (+500)

Ohio State (+685)

Wisconsin (+1100)

Rutgers (+4000)

Michigan State (+5000)

Maryland (+6500)

Indiana (+10000)

Minnesota (+15000)

Northwestern (+50000)

Penn State (+50000)

Nebraska (+100000)



Michigan State Shores Up NCAA Tournament Berth

According to Joe Lunardi of ESPN, Michigan State enters Lucas Oil Stadium on the "last four byes" section of the projected field of 68. It used wins over Illinois, Michigan and the Ohio State Buckeyes to move from the fringe of the field to inside it. 

Tom Izzo's team should solidify its spot in the field of 68 with a victory over Maryland, which is trending in the opposite direction following losses to the Penn State Nittany Lions and Northwestern Wildcats. 

The pair of shocking defeats dropped the Terrapins into the No. 8-versus-No. 9 matchup against one of the hottest teams in the country. 

Maryland's last victory came against Michigan State, a game in which the Spartans struggled to shoot well from any area of the court. They hit 33.3 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from three-point range in the 73-55 loss. 

In Sunday's win over Michigan, the Spartans made 44.4 percent of their shots and received 39 points from Rocket Watts and Aaron Henry.

If Michigan State's most experienced players step up again in Indianapolis, it should cruise to a quarterfinal berth and remove itself from the "last four byes" line and play for a better Big Dance seed for the rest of the tournament. 

Maryland should still be in good shape to make the field of 68, but it would head into the NCAA tournament with three straight losses and viewed as one of the top teams to fade in bracket pools.


Illinois Cashes In On Recent Winning Run

At +320, Illinois carries some of the best value of any team in championship week. 

Brad Underwood's team will likely land the fourth No. 1 seed in the Big Dance and has one of the best inside-outside duos in the country in Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn.

Illinois is on a four-game winning run, with each of its last three victories coming against ranked opposition. If it continues on its current run, it could land a spot in Sunday's tournament final and a possible rematch with Michigan. 

The Fighting Illini could have an extra edge on Michigan, with Dosunmu getting back to full strength and the Wolverines potentially missing Eli Brooks, who left Sunday's loss to Michigan State with an injury. 

Brooks has the fifth-highest points-per-game total on the Michigan roster, but he contributes in many areas. If he is not at 100 percent, Illinois could win the backcourt matchup.

Dosunmu has played his best against the top teams in the Big Ten. He produced 19 points or more in five showdowns with Top 25 sides. 

The senior guard's lowest total from those games was a 19-point outing on Saturday against Ohio State, which came after a two-game absence due to a facial injury.

If Dosunmu continues to shine against the league's best teams and Cockburn chips in with his normal production down low, the Illini could cash in on their odds to win their first Big Ten tournament since 2008.


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from ESPN.com.