Big 10 College Basketball
Odds and Analysis
Five of the eight teams that will be taking the cOurt on Thursday in the first round of the Big Ten Conference Tournament are hoping to earn invitations to the Big Dance on Sunday. Unfortunately, those teams are likely fighting for three spots since there may be just seven bids going to Big Ten schools overall, according to some NCAA Tournament projections.
The top Four seeds in the Big Ten Tournament are virtual locks to get invites, including Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin. Indiana and Purdue also figure to get in since they both finished with winning records in Conference play and have already secured 20 wins.
If you do the math, that means maybe one additional team could make the field of 68 from a group that includes Northwestern, Minnesota and Illinois. Following is a breakdown of Thursday’s first-round matchups from Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana…
No. 8 Illinois Fighting Illini (17-14, 6-12 Big Ten) vs. No. 9 Iowa Hawkeyes (16-15, 8-10)
11:30 a.m. (ET)
Analysis: The Illini seemed to be in line for the conference’s seventh spot in the Big Dance through the first half of the season, but head coach Bruce Weber has seen the wheels come off down the stretch as his team has dropped eight of nine both straight-up and against the spread. The OVER is 7-2 in those Games, and Illinois may need to win three Games in the Big Ten Tourney and get to victory No. 20 to have any shot at returning to the NCAA Tournament. The only win during that stretch came against the Hawkeyes 65-54 on February 26. Iowa is coming off a costly 70-66 home loss to Northwestern last Saturday that relegated the team to spoiler status with almost no shot at the NCAAs barring a shocking run to the Conference Tourney title. The UNDER has gone 5-1 in the last six Games for the Hawkeyes, including the last meeting.
No. 5 Indiana Hoosiers (24-7, 11-7) vs. No. 12 Penn State Nittany Lions (12-19, 4-14)
Analysis: The Hoosiers finished the regular season strong with wins in their last Four Games along with seven of eight. They have covered the spread in three straight with the UNDER going 4-1 in their past five. Indiana has an outstanding NCAA Tournament resume with two wins over Purdue in addition to victories against the league’s top three teams in Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan and Top 25 non-Conference foes in No. 1 Kentucky and No. 23 Notre Dame. The Nittany Lions lost twice to the Hoosiers as well and have dropped Four straight overall, with all of those Games going OVER the total.
No. 7 Northwestern Wildcats (18-12, 8-10) vs. No. 10 Minnesota Golden Gophers (18-13, 6-12)
Analysis: The winner of this Game stays in the running for an at-large invitation to the Big Dance while the loser will likely see its bubble burst. The Wildcats are going for their first NCAA Tourney bid in school history behind all-time leading scorer John Shurna, who was just named first-team All-Big Ten. Northwestern split two meetings with Minnesota during the regular season, with each team winning on its home cOurt. The Golden Gophers have lost six of seven but may still have a shot at the NCAA Tournament with a win here and an upset in the next round.
No. 6 Purdue Boilermakers (20-11, 10-8) vs. No. 11 Nebraska Cornhuskers (12-17, 4-14)
Analysis: Purdue should get into the Big Dance win or lose thanks to an inspirational effort from senior forward Robbie Hummel, who has endured a productive yet injured-filled college career. Hummel received a fifth year of eligibility after tearing his ACL in consecutive years and has made it count, leading the Boilermakers in scoring and rebounding. They have gone 6-2 ATS in their last eight Games with the OVER going 7-1. Nebraska has lost Four in a row both SU and ATS along with eight of nine. The Cornhuskers lost the only meeting at Purdue 83-65 on February 22.
Current Odds to Win the Big 10 Tournament – COurtesty of 5 Dimes Sportsbook
Ohio State +150
Michigan State +265
Penn State +35000