Big Ten Tournament Preview and Projections

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The Big Ten Tournament is set! We have seen a heck of a season. From Wisconsin being nearly unbeatable, to a Purdue squad surprising everyone, to Maryland showing that they belong. The Tournament will act as an NCAA Tournament warm up for teams like Wisconsin, or one last shot for teams like Rutgers or Nebraska. Here, I will preview all the set games, and things to watch for in all of the games. Here we go!

#13 Penn State vs #12 Nebraska (Wednesday at 4:30)
This is one of the games that offers a “last chance” for both teams if they want a shot at the postseason. We can all say with a pretty strong confidence level that these teams won’t make any postseason tournaments, unless they somehow shock the world and win the Big Ten Tournament. For Penn State (4-14), everything went downhill on the season. They finished non conference play 12-1, and looked to make a statement and make the NCAA Tournament. But a disastrous B1G play led to a #13 seed for the Nittany Lions. For Nebraska, a 5-13 Big a Ten season destroyed their Tourney hopes as well. Their final record was 13-17.

#14 Rutgers vs #11 Minnesota (Wednesday at 7)
Before the start of this season, the B1G Ten announced the addition of two teams. Maryland and Rutgers. While Maryland has exceeded expectations, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights have played exactly as expected. Bad. That’s the only word for it. Bad. Their 2-16 record in B1G play has doomed the Scarlet Knights from any tourney hopes. The Goldy Gophers, on the other hand, have played bad, but not as bad. It is a trend for these bottom four teams to play ok preseasons but suffer in conference play, and Minnesota is no different. They were 6-12 in conference play, and are now the best worst team.

#9 Michigan vs #8 Illinois (Thursday at Noon)
Man it stinks that this game is played in the middle of the day. I’m sure that all students and workers will be constantly checking their phones and computers to see the score of this one. Michigan has been a huge let-down this season. They didn’t have the highest of hopes, but early home losses doomed the Wolverines. The Wolverines lost two December home games to NJIT (what?!?) and Eastern Michigan (are you kidding me?). Michigan also suffered a 1-6 February, which is why they need this tournament to make the NCAA Tournament. The Illini are currently on the wrong side of the bubble, and also need a few conference tournament wins to be selected this Sunday. Illinois has been slowly heating up since a rough start to conference play, but may need a few wins to show the committee that they deserve one of 68 spots in the tournament.

#10 Northwestern vs #7 Indiana (Thursday at 6:30)
This could be entertaining. Northwestern best the Hoosiers 72-65 at Northwestern less than two weeks ago at home. This game will be like a home game for the Wildcats, as Northwestern is only 14 miles away from United Center, where this game will be played. For the Hoosiers, this may be a must win for their tournament lives. After a very convincing start, and lots of wins over quality opponents, the Hoosiers have fallen and are now riding a three game losing streak. The Wildcats aren’t looking that fantastic either, and finished the regular season on a home loss to Iowa. When Northwestern defeated Indiana earlier this year, the student section chanted “Hoosiers Daddy” and lots of other phrases at the Hoosiers. If the Hoosiers win on Thursday, you can only expect that those chants will come up again.

The winner of the Michigan vs Illinois game will play Wisconsin on Friday.
The winner of the Penn State vs Nebraska game will play Iowa on Thursday.
The winner of the Northwestern vs Indiana game will play Maryland on Friday.
The winner of the Rutgers vs Minnesota game will play Ohio State on Thursday.

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