By Josh Paulisin @JoshPaulisin on March 11, 2014
The Big Ten had another stellar regular season. As one of the premier conferences in CBB, there was plenty of excitement night in and night out. With a memorable conclusion to the regular season as Nebraska likely punched its ticket to the NCAA tournament after beating Wisconsin, the focus shifts to Indianapolis as the Big Ten tournament begins Thursday afternoon.
Here are five bold predictions for the Big Ten Tournament.
Minnesota knows it needs this game. This is nothing new for the Gophers as they always seem to be in this position at this time of year. After beating Penn State in both of its previous meetings, Minnesota is expected to take down the Nittany Lions for the third time this season.
But how many times have the Gophers been in this same must-win situation and fail? Too many. Richard Pitino may eventually change that culture, but not this year.
Michigan almost shockingly won the Big Ten regular season title. Even more stunning was the fact that the Wolverines won the conference by three games. No Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Mitch McGary? No problem.
But Michigan still relies on outside shooting, and all it takes is one cold shooting night to end a tournament run. A new setting in Indianapolis and desperate teams in need of a strong showing could upset the Wolverines early.
The team that will knock off Michigan will be the No. 8 seed Indiana Hoosiers. The Hoosiers have been wildly inconsistent this season, but they have the talent to beat anyone in the country. Head coach Tom Crean is one of the best in the business and will have his squad ready.
Not to mention, Yogi Ferrell is the best point guard in the Big Ten and he burned the Wolverines in Bloomington. He will do it again in Indianapolis.
Iowa fans are in a bit of a panic, and I don't blame them. The Hawkeyes are treading in the wrong direction and are close to dropping out of the NCAA tournament conversation and into the NIT.
Another bad loss will almost assuredly raise questions. So far, the Hawkeyes haven’t handled the pressure well. That won’t change in Indianapolis as JerShon Cobb and Northwestern will pull off the upset.
Nebraska, of all teams, has the most momentum heading into the tournament. In Tim Miles’ second year, he has turned around a completely dormant program and put them on the cusp of the Big Dance.
The Cornhuskers get a first-round bye as the No. 4 seed, and if Michigan gets bounced early, they will see themselves in the title game. And if that happens, Nebraska will just keep riding the momentum and will win the Big Ten Tournament.
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