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BIG TEN CONFERENCE
Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
March 8-12



PURDUE
Record: 25-6, 14-4

Purdue finds itself as the top seed in a conference tournament in which truly anyone can win. Indiana comes in as the 10-seed and no one would be that surprised if the Hoosiers caught fire and made a run. But the Boilermakers won the regular season by two games for a reason. They are the best team in the conference and if they want at least a 4-seed in the NCAA tournament, probably need to make it to the title game.

The problem is that nothing will come easy. They could face Michigan in the quarters, a team that just beat them and then Michigan State or Minnesota in the semis, with both more than capable. Purdue can be beat by a lot of these teams, but was the most consistent team by far this season. If that consistency doesn’t show in this tournament, anything could happen.

WISCONSIN
Record: 23-8, 12-6

The Badgers were one of those teams that lacked consistency as seen in their five losses in six games to close the season. But this is still a group that has Bronson Koenig, Nigel Hayes and Ethan Happ. It wouldn’t be surprising to see them lose to Iowa or Indiana in their first game or go on to the title game. Wisconsin has been unreliable over the last month.

MARYLAND
Record: 24-7, 12-6

The Terps are another team that fit that unreliable mold and needed a buzzer beater to beat Michigan State last game. They have plenty of good road wins, but also home losses to Minnesota and Iowa late in the year. Similar to Wisconsin, the Terrapins could lose to Northwestern in the first game or make a run to the championship.

MINNESOTA
Record: 23-8, 11-7

The Gophers got the 4-seed, which is the exact spot they didn’t want. Their first game could be against a Spartans team that swept them in the regular season and then either Michigan or Purdue would prove tough tasks in the semis. While they come into this game playing well (outside of the Wisconsin loss), they didn’t get a great situation on the top of the bracket.

MICHIGAN STATE
Record: 18-13, 10-8

While the Spartans have to play one more game, their value is a little better than Minnesota’s, based on upside alone and how they beat Minnesota the first two times (one of those came without Miles Bridges). But if MSU runs into Purdue in the semis, all bets are off as the Boilermakers have their number due to their size advantage.

NORTHWESTERN
Record: 21-10, 10-8

The Wildcats had a great season and should make the NCAA tournament as long as they can win their first game, likely against Ohio State. From there, they’d face a Maryland team that they beat a couple weeks ago on the road by double digits. Similar to Michigan State, Northwestern has better value even playing one more game.

IOWA
Record: 18-13, 10-8

The Hawkeyes are in that same mold, despite getting one more game, have great value. The reason to back them is that they’ve won four straight with three of those coming against possible opponents leading up to the championship. If they take care of Indiana, the Hawkeyes just won in Madison and then possibly Maryland, who they just beat by 14 in College Park.

MICHIGAN
Record: 20-11, 10-8

The Wolverines have been a classic case of inconsistency this season. They can beat anyone when on their game, but when they’re not hitting shots, home losses to Ohio State can happen. Illinois will be a tough test, but Michigan has actually been more consistent than the Illini, while another meeting with Purdue would be fun to watch in the quarterfinals. Again, the Wolverines provide great betting value because they can beat anyone when they’re playing their game.

Indiana (vs. Iowa) and Illinois (vs. Michigan) also deserve a mention because both of them can make runs, which would help them get bids in the NCAA tournament. However, it’s less likely these two can do that, while their first opponents have much better odds of catching fire. The Hoosiers would be the best long-ball shot to make a run, though.

Purdue is the 1-seed and hands down best team, but as said above, this conference has been a toss-up all season. On a neutral court in Washington D.C., anything can happen.

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