The Big 10 Tournament has a field of 14 and will start on Thursday with Minnesota facing Northwestern in the first matchup at 5. This tournament will have no changes despite the spread of the coronavirus. The conference released a statement informing everyone that they will monitor the situation and the press conferences and media availability will be held away from the locker room. This tournament should be packed with close games as 8 teams will be in the NCAA tournament with 3 more teams fighting to get in.
The Big ten will feature three bubble teams in the upcoming tournament. The most likely team in the tourney is the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. The Knights got their second win on the road against the Boilermakers and have a top 35 NET ranking. They should be in on Selection Day but a win against Michigan would secure their chances. The next bubble team that has a chance from the conference is the Indiana Hoosiers. IU has a very good chance of getting into the tourney, but a high NET and RPI are limiting them. They have a better chance of getting in if they win a game in the conference tournament. Their first game will be against Nebraska 25 minutes after game 1 in the Big 10 Tournament. They have won both the games they played against Nebraska in the regular season. One of them went into OT, but that was back in December. The last team on the bubble from the Big 10 is the Purdue Boilermakers. They are a long shot for the tournament because of their record, which is just a game over .500. They do have fantastic wins against some of the Big 10 locks which is the only thing going for them currently. They need some wins in the conference tournament, the only problem is they will have to play against Ohio State and then the Spartans. This is no easy task for the Boilermakers but it may be their only hope to get in the Big Dance.
The most intriguing matchup for this tournament is the potential matchup between Illinois and Wisconsin which would occur in the semi-finals. Both of these teams have been playing well lately and have seeding on the line heading into the conference tourney. The regular-season matchup was won by Illinois by 1 point and was close all the way to the end of the game. Another interesting matchup would be Penn State vs Indiana in the second round. They split the season series with the Hoosiers winning the later game during the year. This will be interesting to see as the Hoosiers are fighting for their bid and Penn State is trying to get a higher seed. This could turn into a game that could tip either way depending on whcih team is more focused.
I think this tournament should play out that way it is supposed to with the powerhouse of talent in the lower seeds. Two higher seeds I think could make runs are the 11 seeded Indiana Hoosiers and the 9 seeded Michigan Wolverines. Don’t be surprised to see Michigan knock out a few of these teams as they have been streaky throughout the year. Otherwise, the tournament will probably have the top four seeds advancing to the semi-finals. Maryland is my pick to win the tournament after showing poise and perseverance throughout the year.
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