Big Ten Basketball Tournament Predictions

Big Ten Basketball Tournament Predictions

Aaron Craft
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It's a hot topic this time of year in the world of college basketball -- which is the nation's best conference? The Big Ten has certainly made its case with how deep it is from top to bottom. Throughout the 2013-14 season, a top contender could go down any given night, either via its fellow contender or a basement-level contender. This competitive level should make for quite an interesting conference tournament this weekend.

First Round: (8) Indiana vs. (9) Illinois

Noah Vonleh
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First Round: (8) Indiana vs. (9) Illinois

Noah Vonleh
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Once standing at 3-10 in the conference, the Illini are peaking at the right time, as they have dropped one contest in their last five. During such streak, they have won on the backbone of strong defensive efforts, holding opponents to 49 points/game. The teams split their regular season matchup, but Noah Vonleh is too big of a force when he asserts himself, averaging 12 points/game with 9 rebounds.

Prediction: Indiana 75-73

First Round: (5) Ohio State vs. (12) Purdue

Lenzelle Smith, Jr.
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First Round: (5) Ohio State vs. (12) Purdue

Lenzelle Smith, Jr.
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Purdue might have officially hit rock bottom under Matt Painter's era, as they are slated to miss their second-consecutive NCAA tournament after making six straight. The Buckeyes are on the opposite side of the pendulum swing, fresh off a 69-67 victory over Michigan State. Simply put, Ohio State's perimeter players have too much athleticism for Purdue's poor guard play.

Prediction: Ohio State 65-52

First Round: (7) Minnesota vs. (10) Penn State

Richard Pitino
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First Round: (7) Minnesota vs. (10) Penn State

Richard Pitino
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The Gophers are on the fringe of booking a trip to their second-straight NCAA tournament, but will they secure it? Either way, head coach Richard Pitino's squad will have their hands full against a scrappy Penn State bunch. While the all-conference guard combo of Tim Frazier-D.J. Newbill light up the scoreboard, the Nittany Lions yield too many lackluster defensive performances, giving up 71.2 points/game.

Prediction: Minnesota 70-63

First Round: (6) Iowa vs. (10) Northwestern

Roy Marble, Jr.
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First Round: (6) Iowa vs. (10) Northwestern

Roy Marble, Jr.
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Iowa has experienced the highs and lows quite frequently this season, without any assurance of knowing what Hawkeye team will show up. Yet there's reason to believe the top-10 Iowa team will come to play Thursday; Northwestern simply cannot score the basketball, averaging a league-worst 59.5 points/game.

Prediction: Iowa 58-47

Second Round: (1) Michigan vs. (8) Indiana

Glenn Robinson III
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Second Round: (1) Michigan vs. (8) Indiana

Glenn Robinson III
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In the first meeting at Assembly Hall, Indiana added another victory over a ranked opponent with a 63-52 victory over the Wolverines. Michigan would end up getting their revenge on Senior Day in a close four-point win. Point being, the Hoosiers can match the Wolverines' athleticism on both sides of the ball, but Glenn Robinson has been the difference maker in both contests, scoring a team-high 14.5 points/game.

Prediction: Michigan 69-62

Second Round: (4) Nebraska vs. (5) Ohio State

Shavon Shields
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Second Round: (4) Nebraska vs. (5) Ohio State

Shavon Shields
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Kudos to head coach Tim Miles, Nebraska seemed to solidify its foot in the field of 68 for the first time since 1998 with its recent home victory over Wisconsin. Still, don't underestimate the notion of Nebraska feeling the pressure early in the game. Nevertheless, the Huskers are at their best when attacking the rim and finding the opening guy, which will be advantageous against Ohio State's vulnerable front line.

Prediction: Nebraska 62-60

Second Round: (2) Wisconsin vs. (7) Minnesota

Sam Dekker
Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

Second Round: (2) Wisconsin vs. (7) Minnesota

Sam Dekker
Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

One of the many deciding factors that tipped the scales for Wisconsin against Nebraska was their inability to guard dribble penetration, which was also emphatically evident in the first matchup at Minnesota. It is a different story on the offensive end, sweetened by the fact that the Gophers have the league's ninth-worst scoring defense.

Prediction: Wisconsin 64-57

Semifinal No. 1: (1) Michigan vs. (4) Nebraska

Nick Stauskas
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Semifinal No. 1: (1) Michigan vs. (4) Nebraska

Nick Stauskas
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Nebraska's feel-good season will face one of its stingiest tests against a well-experienced, well-proven Michigan squad. Experience is so invaluable this time of year, and the Wolverines have plenty of it. The irony of it is one of the most unsung players of the team this year has been freshman Derrick Walton Jr., who is the ideal complement guard to Nick Stauskas.

Prediction: Michigan 68-64

Semifinal No. 2: (2) Wisconsin vs. (3) Michigan State

Gary Harris
Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Semifinal No. 2: (2) Wisconsin vs. (3) Michigan State

Gary Harris
Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

There's no denying Michigan State's roster is filled with NBA-ready talent, but its recent slide, mostly due to injuries, dampened the mood surrounding the Spartans. Still, when this team is fully healthy and playing at a high level, they are one of the best teams in the country. You can never count out a Bo Ryan-coached team, though.

Prediction: Michigan State 63-59

Championship Game: (1) Michigan vs. (3) Michigan State

Adreian Payne
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Championship Game: (1) Michigan vs. (3) Michigan State

Adreian Payne
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Nothing gets better than two heated rivals meeting in the championship game of a conference tournament. They're both loaded with future NBA'ers. They have equal bragging rights with their respective future Hall-of-Fame coaches. They both own an explosive offense with an equally as tough-minded defense. The difference? Michigan State's Keith Appling. When he is in command of the offense, the Spartans shine.

Prediction: Michigan State 72-68

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rexford Sheild is contributing writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @RexfordSheild and “like” him on Facebook. Also, add him to your network on Google.

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