The Big Ten made some headlines when they moved their tournament up a week in order to play at Madison Square Garden. This means the Big Ten Tournament will take place from February 28 through March 4. Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said that this scheduling wasn’t healthy, with so many games having to be played a week earlier, so this may not be a trend.
Teams will get extra time off before Selection Sunday, which is important because there are still some teams trying to get to a number one seed and other teams trying to secure a bid to the field.
Regular season champion Michigan State will be one of the favorites to win the tournament. Ohio State tied for second with Purdue, but beat the Boilermakers head to head this season. The other big challenger will be Purdue, who has had a great season that has gotten them into the national spotlight.
The four seed is Nebraska, who is still on the outside looking in on the NCAA Tournament. Michigan, the reigning champion, is right behind them in the standings at number five, but the Wolverines are going to be in the Big Dance. Penn State is another team that is right on the bubble and needs to have a good showing in this tournament. They are seventh in the conference, but have some big wins this season.
Other than the teams listed, it would take a dramatic Cinderella run for the other teams to win the Big Ten Tournament, but crazier things have happened in March.
All-Tournament Team and MVP
The All-Tournament team is very dependent on who goes deep in a tournament. Who will be the best players in the Big Ten Tournament?
Carsen Edwards, G, Purdue
Tony Carr, G, Penn State
Keita Bates-Diop, F, Ohio State
Miles Bridges, F, Michigan State
Vincent Edwards, F, Purdue
MVP: Vincent Edwards
Darkhorse: Penn State
The Nittany Lions play Northwestern in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament. While they split the regular season series with Northwestern, Penn State should be favored on the neutral court. They have lost their last three games, but have proven the doubters wrong this season.
Penn State’s path to make a run in the Big Ten Tournament is unique. If they beat Northwestern, they will play Ohio State. They have beaten the Buckeyes both times they have played. After that, their likely opponent would be Purdue. While the Boilermakers are a very good team, Penn State lost by just three points in their first matchup. If Tony Carr gets hot, and gets some decent help, Penn State will be hard to beat.
While they aren’t one of the favorites to win the tournament, Penn State is a team that nobody wants to play.
Purdue had a bad three game skid, but otherwise had a fantastic conference season that got them the third seed in the tournament. They lost the three games by a total of eight points. The three seed comes with a two round bye, which puts the Boilermakers in the quarterfinals.
Their first round game will not be tough and Purdue should blow past their opponent. If the rest of the bracket holds to form, they will have to play Ohio State and Michigan State in their other two games. The Boilermakers did lose to both of these teams in the regular season, but they are clearly the most battle-tested team in the Big Ten. If they play to their potential, they will win the tournament.
They have just about everything a team needs to be good in March: Size, shooting, good guard play and experience. Vincent Edwards can be the x-factor for the Boilermakers. He missed two games with an injury, but returned to play on senior day. With his 14.7 points, 7.6 and 3.0 assists per game, Edwards is a versatile, matchup nightmare.