Big Ten basketball in 2017 is bad. Traditional powers in Bloomington and East Lansing struggled throughout the dog days of conference play, while projected favorites Purdue and Wisconsin have nice but deeply flawed teams. Do you even know who finished 4th in the conference? Minnesota! A team that won 2 conference games last year. How many Golden Gophers can you even name? No, Kris Humphries doesn’t count. Let’s enjoy this meaningless week of mediocre basketball before the 2017 Big Ten season is mercifully ended in the first weekend of March Madness by directional teams and satellite campuses from across the college hoops landscape.
The Big Ten Tournament will take place in Washington DC. Since there is nothing else important going on in Washington DC these days, I am sure this will be the hottest ticket in the city. The Big Ten is already complaining about ticket sales because no one is traveling to watch bad basketball and the casual east coast basketball fan simply does not care about potential Iowa vs. Nebraska hoops action. Since I thought the stadium was in Maryland, I made the below graphic and I’m going to use it. Maryland is known for two things crab cakes and Big Ten basketball.
Wednesday Games: For the Unemployed & Unloved
Game 1: #13 Penn State vs. #12 Nebraska
Penn State will win. The Nittany Lions seem to always have one great scorer and a couple other good players but then never seem to get over the hump to respectability, minus those random years in the late 90s with the Crispin Brothers. You won’t watch this game. No one should watch this game.
PSU: 75 Nebrasketball: 66
Game 2: #14 rutger vs. #11 Ohio State
Still don’t know who or what a rutger is. They won their first Big Ten road game this year. They joined the conference in 2014. Can’t wait for next year’s Big Ten Tournament in New York. rutger will play harder but I don’t see Thad Matta dropping this game.
Ohio State: 71 rutger: 55
Thursday Games: For the Alumni & Degenerate Gamblers
Game 3: #9 Illinois vs #8 Michigan
This is will be John Groce’s last game as Illini head coach. He hasn’t made the tournament since inheriting Bruce Weber’s leftovers and after watching a season of Lovie Smith’s clock management during the football season, the fanbase is restless. Michigan struggled away from Crisler Arena but have a tough and tested PG in Derrick Walton and in this conference that gives them a chance every night.
Michigan: 83 Illinois: 69 (nice)
Game 4: #13 Penn State vs. #5 Michigan State
Don’t let anyone convince you that this is a typical Tom Izzo team that will peak in March. They have far fewer playmakers and Tum Tum Nairn is a huge liability at PG. Miles Bridges is good, I guess. Sparty will get up early and coast in the 2nd half to an easy victory.
MSU: 74 Penn State:66
Game 5: #10 Indiana vs. #7 Iowa
This conference is so bad. Iowa beat the Hoosiers in overtime 96-90 behind Peter Jok’s 35 points. Jok was 22/23 from the FT line as the Hawkeyes attempted 49FTs. The list of things I would rather watch than a game where one team attempts 49FTs is long and robust. Indiana will turn the ball over. A lot. They ranked in the 330s last I checked in turnover % and were turning the ball over 1 in every 5 possessions. The fact they won any games with stats like that shows just how soft the Big Ten is this year. Everything will be better next year when Brad Stevens comes home to coach the Hoosiers.
One other fun fact – Indiana has never won the Big Ten tournament and only played in one finals in 2001. They lost to Brody Boyd and Iowa. Revenge.
Indiana: 81 Iowa: 77
Game 6: #11 Ohio State vs #6 Northwestern
Northwestern will make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in the history of its basketball program. Good for them. Its going to be hilarious when some school where no students could get admitted to Northwestern beat them by 20 in the first round.
Northwestern: 65 Ohio State: 58
Friday Games: For the Happy Hour & Highlights
Game 7: #8 Michigan vs #1 Purdue
Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan is a fantastic college basketball player. He plays hard, he rebounds, he defends, and keeps defenders honest with his array of offensive moves. Michigan will have no answer for him and it will cost them this game. The Boilers will go as far as guard play can take them and as Arkansas-Little Rock taught us last year, that’s not very far.
Purdue: 76 Michigan: 71
Game 8 #5 Michigan State vs. #4 Minnesota
Ugh, this Minnesota team is awful. They do have a senior PG in Nate Mason and stud freshman in Amir Coffey, which somehow makes them the 4th best team in the Big Ten. Sparty beat them twice in the regular season and will win again in DC. Don’t forget to Crank Dat Gopher Boy during the game.
Michigan State: 63 Minnesota: 54
Game 9: #10 Indiana vs #2 Wisconsin
This game will be unwatchable. Wisconsin will force Indiana into a million turnovers and I’ll fall asleep around 5 minutes in then wake up with 10 to play but be really confused when the score is still in the 30s. Brad Stevens wins this game by 20+ next year.
Ohio State: 53 Indiana: 44
Game 10 #6 Northwestern vs. #3 Maryland
Maryland gets home court advantage and despite falling apart at the end of the season, they win this game. Other than Wilbon and Juan Dixon, who is spending their Friday night watching this game?
Maryland 68 Northwestern 66
Saturday Games: For the 808s and Heartbreaks
Game 11 #5 Michigan State vs. #1 Purdue
Purdue pulls away from an overmatched and disinterested Sparty team. Isaac Haas will draw 5 fouls within 5 minutes of entering the game simply by being big. Purdue’s guards will shoot well enough to keep Sparty at arms length.
Purdue: 71 Michigan State: 66
Game #12 #2 Wisconsin vs #3 Maryland
Wisconsin lost 3 out of its last 4 games, while Maryland lost 3 of its last 5 down the stretch but still nabbed double byes and one of these teams will make the conference championship game. Yuck. Wisconsin won easily a few weeks ago, so I’ll stay with them finding their footing in this tournament.
Wisconsin 65 Maryland 64
Sunday’s Game: For Killing Time Before the Selection Show
Game 13: #2 Wisconsin vs. #1 Purdue
This is the game that will send the viewing public into a frenzy over how bad the Big Ten is this year. By being forced to watch this game leading up the selection show, the rest of the country will now be surprised to see Purdue on the 5 line and Wisconsin well below that. This game will cause every Big Ten team to be upset specials and let us all not watch a play-in game that involves Iowa on Wednesday. It will be bad but it will serve its purpose. Go Ugly Early.
Purdue 69 Wisconsin 61
I am already prepping for the 2018 Big Ten Tournament in a state with no Big Ten schools and large Michigan, Indiana, and Penn State alumni bases. I hate this year’s Big Ten, but I will watch as much of this tournament as possible. We may only have a few more games left of Crean face at Indiana and I don’t wanna miss a thing.
If you want to discuss any picks or mock me mercilessly, hit me up on Twitter and follow this blog @headvgut leading up to Selection Sunday as they do great work putting together more accurate brackets than Joe Lunardi.