NCAAB: Big Ten Tournament preview
The Big Ten Tournament tips off on Wednesday, March 11 in Indianapolis. We've sized up the competition and have the latest odds, picks, and betting analysis for this year's high-stakes conference clash.
Odds to win the Big Ten Tournament
|Team||Big Ten Tournament Odds|
Michigan State Spartans
Illinois Fighting Illini
Ohio State Buckeyes
The Favorite: Michigan State
Led by three-time All-Big Ten selection Cassius Winston, Michigan State is the top team in the Big Ten Tournament once again. After a slump in early February, head coach Tom Izzo’s team is putting the pieces together at the right time.
The Spartan's have won their last five games. That streak includes a win at home over then-No. 18 Iowa and road wins over then-No. 20 Penn State and No. 9 Maryland. During that stretch, the Spartans averaged 80 points and outscored opponents by an average of 12 points.
Michigan State will face the winner of Thursday’s Purdue-Ohio State matchup. Purdue, the No. 10 seed, handed the Spartans their worst loss of the season—a 71-42 thumping in West Lafayette. A decisive win over Ohio State was the exclamation point on the regular season that has many bettors and bracket builders interested in Michigan State.
The live longshot: Michigan
I like ninth-seeded Michigan’s draw as a longshot.
The Wolverines are an imperfect team. Michigan lost three of its last four games and is a .500 team in conference play, but the Wolverines will face a limping Rutgers team Thursday. If they get past the Scarlet Knights, surely the toughest test will be against Wisconsin.
Michigan fell to the Badgers, 81-74, in Ann Arbor on Feb. 27. Wisconsin turned it on late in the season but struggled early in losses to Richmond, New Mexico, NC State, Minnesota, and Rutgers. Wisconsin will likely be favored if that matchup happens, but I like Michigan's road better than teams in the bottom half of the Big Ten bracket.
Michigan was also the highest seed to ever win the Big Ten Tournament. The Wolverines won as the No. 8 seed in 2017.
Player to watch: Luka Garza
Anyone who wasn’t watching Luka Garza during this regular season will definitely have to pay attention in the postseason. Garza has been dominant for Iowa and is unsurprisingly a Wooden Award finalist. He scored 20 points or more in 16 straight Big Ten games. The game before that streak, Garza racked up 16 points and 18 rebounds.
He’s had 12 20-point/10-rebound performances this year. He’s had 15 double-doubles. The junior center is the first Hawkeye to earn Big Ten Player of the Year honors since 1968.
The Hawkeyes will play either Minnesota or Northwestern on Thursday. In two regular-season games against Minnesota and one against Northwestern, Garza averaged 24 points and 10 rebounds. Iowa won all three.