March Madness is here! Today, a few of our writers will be giving their thoughts on the Big Ten Conference Tournament.
#12 Minnesota vs. #13 Northwestern
#11 Indiana vs. #14 Nebraska
#8 Rutgers vs. #9 Michigan
#5 Iowa vs. #12 Minnesota/#13 Northwestern
#7 Ohio State vs. #10 Purdue
#6 Penn State vs. #11 Indiana/#14 Nebraska
#1 Wisconsin vs. #8 Rutgers/#9 Michigan
#4 Illinois vs. #5 Iowa/#12 Minnesota/#13 Northwestern
#2 Michigan State vs. #7 Ohio State/#10 Purdue
#3 Maryland vs. #6 Penn State/#11 Indiana/#14 Nebraska
Who will win the Big Ten Conference Tournament?
Aram: #2 Michigan State (22-9, 14-6 in the Big Ten)
Listen, I just can’t bring myself to bet against Cassius Winston this year. This is his last campaign and I think he is going to carry this Michigan State team deep into the postseason.
Pat: #2 Michigan State (22-9, 14-6 in the Big Ten)
This is maybe the most wide open Big Ten tournament I’ve ever seen, and a lot of different teams have a chance to cut down the nets. With all the uncertainty in the conference, I’m going with the safe pick in the Spartans. Cassius Winston is one of the most reliable players in the sport, and Tom Izzo one of the most reliable coaches, giving the Spartans a huge edge in March.
Randy: #2 Michigan State (22-9, 14-6 in the Big Ten)
Winners of their last five games, the Spartans have picked up the slack and now look to be playing some of their best basketball at the right time. The balance on offense and defense makes them scarier than any team as they can beat you in a multitude of ways.
TJ: #3 Maryland (24-7, 14-6 in the Big Ten)
I’m going to roll with Maryland to take the Big Ten tourney. It took a lot for me not to pick Michigan State but Maryland has been good all year long and this is a very good Big Ten field. The Terps are led by a trio of Anthony Cowan Jr., Aaron Wiggins, and Jalen Smith. Smith has been fantastic in their last four putting up a double double in each game while shooting over 50%. Coach Mark Turgeon hasn’t won a conference tournament in his career but this seems like as good of a time as any to get his first.
Which team is a Dark Horse Candidate to take home the title?
Aram: #9 Michigan (19-12, 10-10 in the Big Ten)
It’s been a tight Big Ten conference this year and when that is the case in the postseason, the experience usually stands out. Xavier Simpson, Jon Teske, and company have plenty of that experience under their belt and will be looking to pull off a couple upsets. Rutgers is their first opponent and they are not nearly as good away from home.
Pat: #9 Michigan (19-12, 10-10 in the Big Ten)
The Wolverines are the best ninth place team in any conference, and no one in the Big Ten wants to see them in Indy. Michigan started the season hot but took a dip when Isaiah Livers got hurt early on in conference play. With Livers now healthy and senior Zavier Simpson playing like a man on a mission, the Wolverines are more than capable of making a big run.
Randy: #7 Ohio State (21-10, 11-9 in the Big Ten)
This is a very skilled Buckeye team who has defeated the likes of Kentucky, Maryland, Illinois, and Michigan. A skilled resume makes them battle tested but it is their lockdown defense that will get them far into the Big Ten tournament as well as the big dance.
TJ: #9 Michigan (19-12, 10-10 in the Big Ten)
Remember way back at the beginning of the year when Michigan won the Battle 4 Atlantis. Seems like forever ago and then Michigan got hit with a spell of up and down performances. With the veteran leadership of Zavier Simpson, Isaiah Livers, and Jon Teske the Wolverines have been in this situation before. Coach Juwan Howard’s team has five players in double figures and plenty of quality wins on the year. They are a real dark horse to do more than just run the Big Ten tournament.
Who is one player that NBA teams should keep an eye on?
Aram: Xavier Tillman, Junior F – Michigan State
Xavier Tillman is one of the best post defenders in the nation as he outmatched Luka Garza in their latest matchup. Now, Tillman has the chance to show the entire country, once again, exactly what he is made of. The offensive game, particularly his shot, needs some polish, but he has loads of potential and will undoubtedly be a draft pick once he comes out.
Pat: Trayce Jackson-Davis, Freshman F – Indiana
There’s an abundance of prospects to watch in the Big Ten, but the guy I’m most interested in seeing is Trayce Jackson-Davis. In a conference full of great bigs, the freshman forward has really stood out. Despite standing a few inches shorter than many of the league’s top bigs, Jackson-Davis has outplayed a lot of them, and really caught my eye with a 27 point, 16 rebound performance at Minnesota in a head to head matchup with Daniel Oturu. The Hoosiers need to win a couple of games in Indy to be safe on Selection Sunday, and they’ll rely heavily on Jackson-Davis to help get them those wins.
Randy: Lamar Stevens, Senior F – Penn State
A four year starter for the Nittany Lions, Lamar Stevens has shown he is one of the most reliable big men in the country. He has only failed to score in double-digit points twice in the past two seasons. His production and well-polished offensive arsenal should go a long way when NBA scouts examine his tape and body of work.
TJ: Jon Teske, Senior C – Michigan
Michigan big Jon Teske could be a NBA sleeper come draft time. Standing at 7’1 Teske has legit NBA Center size and could excel as a screener. Teske has upped his FT% to the low 70s this year (up from 12%) and he has shown plenty of touch around the basket. He has shown the ability to be a stretch big and could provide that ability in the pros. Teske is an avid rebounder and has shown some solid flashes over his career to be a decent rim protector.