Big Ten Tournament time is here! Because of the men’s tournament being moved up a week, both tournaments will take place simultaneously.
The men will head to New York City and Madison Square Garden while the women will descend on Indianapolis and Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
All of us at The Hoosier Network filled out some brackets and you can find them below.
Big Ten Men’s Tournament
All of the “experts” have Nebraska (22-9, 13-5) in the “First Four Out” for the NCAA Tournament and that’s just disrespectful. Tim Miles will have his group playing hard at Madison Square Garden and I think they’ll get past both Michigan & Michigan State to get to the championship.
Indiana will beat the winner of Minnesota/Rutgers and give Purdue a good game in the quarterfinals, but the Boilermakers size causes too many issues for the Hoosiers. Purdue will use their size and seniors to a Big Ten Tournament Championship and a potential No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
For this year’s men’s tournament, I don’t foresee many upsets. I truly believe the talent gap between the top five and the rest is too great for a lot of upsets. I think Nebraska has a chance to be a sleeper in this tournament, but getting past Michigan State in the semis seems like too steep of a test. Purdue is going to get a chance at redemption twice. First against Ohio State then Michigan State in the final. Purdue is going to get that sweet taste of revenge and snag a number one seed for this year’s NCAA Tournament.
As for Indiana, they will get a favorable matchup in its first game, but will have a tough game waiting them against Purdue. Unfortunately, they aren’t playing at Assembly Hall with the crowd backing them. Don’t be surprised if Purdue runs away as the fresher team.
All aboard the Michigan hype train. The Wolverines enter the Big Ten Tournament as one of the hottest team in the field winning five straight to end the season. If my short-lived college basketball experience has taught me anything, always ride the hype train of the hot team come March. The Wolverines are playing their best basketball of the year and they play basketball in a way that suits them best for tournament play. Michigan is second in the nation in offensive turnover percentage and sixth in steal percentage. Quite simply, they force turnovers and make mistakes of their own.
All aboard the Michigan hype train until that train rams into a seven foot tall brick wall. Ultimately, I’ve got the most versatile and balanced team in the Big Ten winning it all. Purdue can do it all offensively, and the emergence of Carsen Edwards has killed their reliance upon Isaac Haas. Nothing is coming close to stopping the Boilermakers in my eyes.
For the men, it is pretty wide open with the exception of Purdue and Michigan State. Michigan State has been on a tear this season amidst everything they’ve had to endure as a team. Purdue started the season off roughly and then righted the ship as they didn’t lose a game in the United States until February 7th when they faced Ohio State. I did pick Nebraska to defeat Michigan State in the semifinal just because there always seems to be that fluke game/upset in the Big Ten tourney. I think Indiana takes care of Minnesota or Rutgers, but will have another matchup nightmare with Purdue and proceed to lose that one again. Purdue should be able to get to the championship game and win the Big Ten Tournament.
On the men’s side, it’s a bit more straightforward. In an underperforming year for the Big Ten, chalk should hold through the quarterfinals in NYC. Michigan State will see no threat in its path to Sunday’s championship, with the exception of possibly the Nebraska Cornhuskers, who have been playing their best basketball of the year. A quarterfinal matchup with Michigan is perhaps the most intriguing. Indiana will take the six seed in the bottom half of the bracket and should be able to get at least a win before a primetime meeting with in-state rival Purdue.
Still, in a year for IU that’s been as unpredictable as Austin Render’s sudden obsession with olympic curling, Hoosier fans shouldn’t be promised anything just yet. Purdue gets to the finals over Ohio State; the Buckeyes have been shaky at times down the stretch and their narrow escape win in Bloomington last week was indicative of that kind of inconsistency. Tom Izzo will cement his team’s place among the elite in the country (if he hadn’t already) with a win over the Boilermakers on Sunday afternoon.
Let’s kick off with the men’s tournament. In my bracket, I’ve got Michigan State going all the way. Miles Bridges and the crew are doing some incredible things this year in the Big Ten, and are looking to make some noise in the NCAA Tournament this year as well. Currently ranked number two in the nation, the Spartans have won the Big Ten outright, and I believe that they can go through the tournament with some relative ease. On the opposite side of the bracket, Purdue goes to the final game, which is the only team I see that gives Michigan State much trouble.
As much as I would like Indiana to advance far into the tournament to spark the hopes of an NCAA berth, I don’t see them beating Purdue considering the matchup. Purdue has beat Indiana quite well over the last couple of meetings, and I doubt that a neutral site in Madison Square Gardens will do anything to benefit either team. That will be a battle of raw talent, and as it stands, Purdue has the edge.
Watch out for the sleeper team, number five Michigan. I do have them in the small upset of Michigan and Nebraska. While the matchup will be close, look for Michigan being able to pull away in the last few minutes of regulation to secure their victory. Then, when the in state rivalry comes to the semifinal matchup, expect to see Michigan State come out with a harder fought victory. Once again, for as much clout as there is for the rivalry, a neutral site in NEW YORK will not be attracting very many Michigan students during the school week and weekend before midterms begin around the country at universities.
Only numerical upsets are Wisconsin, Michigan and then Purdue later on. MSU is one of the hottest teams in the country right now and I’m going to continue to ride that through NYC. OSU gets revenge on PSU in their third matchup of the season as well. And Nebraska doesn’t do enough to get into the tournament with their early loss to Michigan.
Big Ten Women’s Tournament
Indiana needs to do well in this tournament in order to make it to the championship, and I think they will. The Hoosiers won 8 of the last 9 to end the year and they’ll keep rolling past Michigan State. They only lost to Maryland by 4 on the road and that was before the win streak started. I think they pull off a big win vs the Terps and then beat Nebraska for the second time this year to get to the championship. In the end, Ohio State will be too much for Indiana to take down, but if the Hoosiers make the championship game that should be enough to make the NCAA tournament.
Indiana has to win at least two games to get into the NCAA Tournament. It’s as simple as that. Getting a win over Maryland isn’t as crazy as you may think. They took the Terrapins to the wire in College Park earlier this season. The Hoosiers have been playing a good brand of basketball as of late and have a chance to make some noise. However, I just don’t see it.
Maryland is a stern test and I see chalk almost all across the board save for some smaller upsets. Ohio State won the regular season title and I don’t see them slipping up in Indianapolis.
Megan Gustafson is the Big Ten Player of the Year. That is all. She’s about to be the MVP of the Big Ten Tournament, and on this wild ride Iowa is only going to need to ride her success. Gustafson is the Kemba Walker of the 2018 Big Ten Women’s Tournament and I’m all in.
On the women’s side, I think the Buckeyes are the clear favorites to win it. There won’t be too many teams to challenge them. They had 3 losses in the Big Ten and all three came in a row against Michigan, Maryland and Iowa. The Hoosiers do have a chance to make it to the championship. They’re coming fresh off a loss to Iowa after riding an 8-game win streak so they will be focused and ready to go.
For Indiana, the Hoosiers immediately face a test in the form of the Michigan State Spartans, who rocked IU at Assembly Hall in December. Still, the Hoosiers should hope to draw confidence from a superb comeback win in the second game of the season series on January 20 — one of the team’s finest wins of the season. IU will look to play with added focus and urgency as the final collegiate postseason for Tyra Buss and Amanda Cahill begins.
Come Friday evening, #2 Maryland will need to be ready for the Hoosiers, who played close the entire way in a narrow 74-70 victory for the Terps. If Maryland can get the job done against IU, it might be a different story versus a Nebraska team that fought hard in a two-point loss just this past Sunday in College Park. On the other side, Iowa shouldhave enough to get the job done in a quarterfinal bout against #4 Minnesota; the Hawkeyes ride a 7-game win streak into Indy and Megan Gustafson has been excellent leading the way. Top-seeded Ohio State will have the chance to avenge an earlier season loss to Iowa in the tournament semifinals.
In the end, the Buckeyes’ Kelsey Mitchell and Stephanie Mavunga will be too much for the rest of the field and Ohio State captures its first conference championship in eight years.
Now for the women’s tournament, which is something that Indiana should be much more excited for. Teri Moren and the Hoosiers are looking to boost their chances right before Selection Monday, coming up in the week after the tourney. While I don’t have them winning the whole bracket, making it to Saturday and the semifinal matchup can very possibly land them in the NCAA Women’s Tournament this year. You can thank Indiana’s strength of schedule and eight game winning streak towards the end of the season for a nice résumé boost. While the streak was broken when the Hoosiers played Iowa in their final regular season game, it was most likely a good thing, showing the Hoosiers a look at humility before they dive into the tournament.
My take: Nebraska walks away with the Big Ten Tournament to share with Ohio State. Cornhusker basketball has done very well for the men, but the women have been overlooked in the wake of that. Their draw is perfect for it, especially with the upset in Indiana/Maryland. Even if Maryland does win that, Nebraska can still be prepared for a good game of basketball following and get the win. If my winner is wrong, though? Indiana fans rejoice. It’s possible you see the Hoosiers causing havoc in the final game.
I’ve got another upset team though. It’s none other than the Iowa Hawkeyes and their not-so-secret weapon: Megan Gustafson. I’ve got them going to Sunday’s final, and they’ve got quite the chance to do it. It’s a tough route to go, with wins over Ohio State and Minnesota, but during the regular season, Iowa beat OSU, 103-89, and then beat Minnesota not three weeks later, 92-84. With wins like that in late January and early February, it gives me more and more confidence in the Hawkeyes. However, I do have them falling short to Nebraska similar to how they did in the regular season with the Cornhuskers.
On the women’s side. An early upset my Michigan over Nebraska pits them against Maryland, a team they just beat last week. However, I don’t think they get the job done this time. The hottest team in the conference is Iowa, and I’m sticking with that. The Hawkeyes have a lot of talent and I’m all in on a deep run for Iowa. However, they don’t completely sweep the board as Maryland is able to win the Big Ten tournament over Iowa