Sunday, March 7, 2010

Forecasting the Big Ten Tournament

The matchups for the 2010 Big Ten Tournament are now set thanks to wins today by Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Minnesota. Northwestern is the 7-seed and, as expected, will rematch with 10-seed Indiana who just beat the Wildcats in the regular season finale. Another interesting rematch exists in the 4 vs 5 game where 4-seed Wisconsin and 5-seed Illinois will meet to decide their season series. Below are my thoughts on all 10 games in the Big Ten Tournament as I predict who will come out victorious and take home the Big Ten’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Round 1

Game 1
#8 Michigan vs #9 Iowa
WRR Pick: Michigan
I’m picking Michigan in part because Manny Harris is the type of player who can carry a team in the postseason, but he’s Mr. Inconsistent, so really I’m picking the Wolverines because I don’t think Iowa’s young team is ready or talented enough to compete in the postseason.

Game 2
#7 Northwestern vs #10 Indiana
WRR: Northwestern
I like the Wildcats to win the season series over the Hoosiers. Yes, it might be a pro-IU crowd, but it isn’t IU’s building as it was on Saturday when it took overtime for the Hoosiers to win. I think NU will learn from Saturday’s mistakes and get by the Hoosiers in Round 1.

Game 3
#6 Minnesota vs #11 Penn State
WRR Pick: Penn State
I don’t think anybody envies Minnesota’s 6-seed. Penn State has become a very good team in the last month and Minnesota will find out just how good when the Nittany Lions beat them.

Quarterfinal Round

Game 4
#1 Ohio State vs #8 Michigan
WRR Pick: Ohio State
This might be the Big Ten’s most hotly contested rivalry, but I don’t expect much of a contest here. I think the Buckeyes roll to the semi-final behind Big Ten Player of the Year Evan Turner.

Game 5
#4 Wisconsin vs #5 Illinois
WRR Pick: Illinois
I think Illinois is going to be a team on a mission after Sunday’s loss. They need to win to even get sniffed by the NCAA Selection Committee. Also, Demetri McCamey needs to show he isn’t the player who nearly got into a fight with his coach on the bench, but is in fact the guy who nearly set a single season record for assists after an early season benching.

Game 6
#2 Purdue vs #7 Northwestern
WRR Pick: Purdue
I think this is where NU’s road problems really show up. Yes, Indy is closer to the IU campus, but Purdue has a lot more to play for and their fans will know that and descend on Conseco Fieldhouse. I think those fans help push a Boilermaker team that is adjusting to the loss of Robbie Hummel to victory. On the positive side, I think the win over Indiana clinches NU’s NIT bid.

Game 7
#3 Michigan State vs #11 Penn State
WRR Pick: Michigan State
Penn State will make Michigan State work for this victory just as they did twice this year. When it is all said and done, though, I think Tom Izzo will be able to orchestrate a narrow win for MSU.

Semifinal Round

Game 8
#1 Ohio State vs #5 Illinois
WRR Pick: Ohio State
This game will be much closer than either of the two meetings these teams had during the regular season. However, Evan Turner, William Buford, and David Lighty are simply that much better than Illinois’s backcourt of McCamey, DJ Richardson, and Brandon Paul. I also think Dallas Lauderdale can push around Mike Tisdale.

Game 9
#2 Purdue vs #3 Michigan State
WRR: Michigan State
When these teams met the first time MSU star Kalin Lucas played on an injured ankle and Purdue beat his Spartans. The second time, Purdue played without Robbie Hummel and MSU won. With Hummel still out, Lucas and the Spartans will win.

Big Ten Tournament Championship Game

#1 Ohio State vs #3 Michigan State
WRR Pick: Michigan State
No disrespect to Purdue, but considering they don’t have Hummel, I think this final pits the Big Ten’s two top teams right now. Ohio State probably has more talent, but I think after having lost to the Buckeyes earlier in the year, Tom Izzo will have a better idea of how to exploit OSU’s lack of depth. I expect the Spartans to rotate their athletic bigs against Lauderdale, pressure the Buckeye guards to cause turnovers, and get away with a close victory and the Big Ten Tournament Title.

What does everybody else think? Share your predictions for NU’s run and the tourney’s champ below.


johnrocks_32 said...

I think out of all of the second round possibilities i would have picked Purdue. Now i dont think that NU is a lock to win, but i think we can really give the Boilers problems. However, first we have to get by Indiana. THis should happen but we shouldve been able to be better then 2-4 vs Indiana Penn State and Iowa... I think NU beats Indiana by 8 then loses a squeaker to Purdue by 4.

G1000 said...

This draw sets up tremendously well for NU. We get Purdue in round 2 (assuming we get by Indiana), then likely MSU (a team we can potentially play with), and then hopefully OSU gets knocked off by someone so we don't have to face them in the finals (if we get there).

I'm smelling a potential run. At least I hope...

Damian said...

Rarely would MSU be considered a "sleeper" pick, but I think this is a team that feels it has something to prove after losing some steam in the second half of the conference season. As good as OSU is, I think their sights are already on the Big Dance.