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OTB Staff Round Table: B1G Men’s Basketball Tournament Predictions

Who do we think will win the conference tourney?

NCAA Basketball: Colgate at Penn State Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament begins late this afternoon in Washington D.C. Our staff got together to make our predictions on how the action will unfold. Here is the full bracket, as well as picks from many of our contributors.

Griffin Whitmer

Round 1

Penn State over Nebraska. Although Penn State’s AD said Pat Chambers’ job is safe, the same can’t be said for Tim Miles. Regardless, I like Penn State’s youth to prevail.

Rutgers over Ohio State. Two teams at very different spot. Ohio State is on the decline while Rutgers is on the rise. I like Rutgers on a neutral court over the Buckeyes, who have nothing to play for.

Round 2

Michigan over Illinois. Michigan is coming off a near-40 point win over Nebraska and Illinois just lost to Rutgers and its coach is about to be fired, most likely. Michigan is playing for a tournament berth while Illinois’ bubble has been burst. Love the Wolverines in March.

Michigan State over Penn State. Big. Can’t wait to see what this Spartan team can do in the tournament after a subpar regular season leaving them on the bubble.

Indiana over Iowa. Tom Crean lives.

Rutgers over Northwestern. Sup Darren Rovell? Sup Mike Greenberg? Northwestern will make the tournament regardless, but I want these people to sweat out Selection Sunday.


Michigan over Purdue. I really don’t feel comfortable picking Purdue in the postseason. Plus, Michigan has already proven it can overcome rebounding struggles against this big Purdue team.

Michigan State over Minnesota. Can the Golden Gophers win down the stretch? Yes. They won 8 of 9 to close out the season. But Michigan State is seasoned in tournament play and will need to win this to secure a spot in the tourney. Tom Izzo knows what he’s doing.

Indiana over Wisconsin. The Badgers really struggled to close out the season, going 2-6 to close out the regular season. Tom Crean lives to see another day.

Maryland over Rutgers. No Cinderella run for the Knights. Maryland will have a home crowd for this one and Rutgers hasn’t been able to play 40 minutes with the Terps this year.


Michigan State over Michigan. If you’re beginning to notice something, I really like the Spartans.

Indiana over Maryland. Tom Crean lives for March.


Will making the final save Tom Crean’s job? Maybe, but the Hoosiers won’t beat Michigan State. The Spartans will run the table in the Big Ten Tournament and come into the Big Dance as one of the hottest teams in the country.

Matthew Pisani

First Round

Rutgers will beat Ohio State. Rutgers has the momentum and the drive to take down a lackluster Buckeye team in the first round.

Penn State should be able to handle Nebraska relatively easily in the first round, too.

Second Round

Michigan should be able to dispose of Illinois in the second round. Illinois just has not lived up to their potential this season.

Michigan State will defeat Penn State in the second Round. Tom Izzo will make sure he does not lose in the first round to either Penn State or Nebraska.

Indiana had a rough season in which many thought they would be a ranked team at this juncture in the season, but they will knock down Iowa to advance.

Northwestern will crush Rutgers’ dreams of making it to the Big Ten quarterfinals with a win here. It will not be easy and the Wildcats will have to earn it, but their magical season will continue.


Purdue is not going to let a team like Michigan walk in and take them down. The Boilermakers will easily knock off the Wolverines.

Minnesota is going to have their hands full when Tom Izzo pays them a visit in March. The Golden Gophers have had a dream season, but Tom Izzo is just starting to rev up the engine on his as the Spartans take this one.

This Indiana vs. Wisconsin game will surely be a thriller. At the end of the day, Wisconsin is simply the better team and will pull out the narrow victory.

In another great game, the Terrapins take on the Wildcats. While Northwestern has had one hell of a ride, the Terps and Melo Trimble are simply too much for the Wildcats. Terps win.


Tom Izzo may be revving his engines coming into the Semi-Finals here against Purdue, he will ultimately stall out. The Boilermakers are too good this year for Tom Izzo. Purdue will win this one and maybe even more convincingly so than many may have expected.

Maryland vs. Wisconsin in the other semi-finals game is another intriguing one. Melo Trimble has been one of the best players this season and Maryland has consistently been one of the better Big Ten teams this season. Wisconsin may win this game most of the time, but Maryland and Trimble’s amazing tenacity in the clutch will win them this game.


Melo Trimble and Maryland have been easily one of the best teams in the Big Ten this season. Purdue has also clearly been a Big Ten favorite. These two teams will duke it out. After a hard-fought 40 minutes, the Maryland Terrapins will ultimately walk away with the conference title and an automatic NCAA bid.

Both of these teams are dangerous and both are vulnerable. Either one can win this title and either one can make significant progress in the NCAA Tournament. All in all, Big Ten basketball has been exciting this year and this tournament and game will only show it to be that much more competitive and exciting.

Jim Hoffman

I like what Griffin and Matt did above, but I’m going to work backwards. I’ll start with letting you know who will win it all, and then go back to the beginning and work my way through each round.

Spoiler Alert:

Purdue is going to be the B1G champ in basketball this season. They will beat Maryland to advance to the automatic bid for the conference. I think they have too much strength against a Maryland team that relies upon Trimble and whoever is hot that night. Here’s how it will all play out:

1st Round

I’m taking the underdogs in both of these games. Rutgers is on a high having beaten Illinois in the season finale, and Ohio State has not really shown up in their last games of the season. Their last game against Rutgers was a win where the Buckeyes won at home hanging on by their fingernails to hold off a furious RU rally. With OSU not being able to rely on the home crowd, I think Rutgers will take this one.

In the other, Nebraska will win a close one against Penn State. They beat PSU rather convincingly last time, and while both teams finished the season on a down note, Penn State did not win another game after losing to Nebraska. The only chance for this to be different is if the Nittany Lions are looking for revenge, but I don’t see that as enough of a motive to get their motors running. The ‘Huskers by 6 points.

2nd Round

These four games will be hard-fought ones. I see Illinois over Michigan and fairly easily. Illinois is reeling from losing to Rutgers in the finale, and know their only hope to get into the Dance is a strong performance in the conference tournament. Even that will put them in a “need a lucky break” situation to make it to the NCAA Tournament. I see them as one of the play-in teams if they get the nod at all.

Michigan State will roll fairly easily over Nebraska in the second game. Although it is not always easy to beat the same team three times in a season, the two wins the Spartans already have over the ‘Huskers are pretty convincing wins, and I’m convinced they will make it three wins.

Iowa and Indiana is an interesting pick. I can’t see how Indiana can beat Iowa just based on strength of teams, but as Griffin noted above, picking against Tom Crean in March is a dangerous proposition. I’m picking Indiana to upset Iowa in this one.

I don’t see Rutgers being able to pull two upsets in the tournament. Northwestern had their number in both the home and away games, and Northwestern will have it here as well. Rutgers is certainly better than they were earlier in the season, but I still think the Wildcats are a stronger team, and it will show in this game.


In these four games, it is going to be Purdue over Illinois, Michigan State over Minnesota, Indiana over Wisconsin, and Maryland over Northwestern.

Illinois is really no match for Purdue. The Illini will get an NIT berth.

Michigan State took it to the Golden Gophers in their first two meetings and will do it again in this game.

Wisconsin is reeling, losing four of their last six games, and are not the same team that started the season. Indiana will take ‘em down.

Northwestern will be in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in their history, but they will not get there through the B1G Tournament Championship. They will be no match for Maryland’s game.


These will be two interesting games, though neither will be surprises. In both, the higher seed will win the game. Michigan State is no match for Purdue this year. The Spartans lost to the Boilermakers by nine points in their initial meeting at home, and the Spartans lost by 17 in their second meeting three weeks ago in West Lafayette. I see them splitting the difference at a neutral site. Purdue by 13 points in this one.

Maryland has the luxury of having (almost) home games with the tournament being in Washington DC this year. In the game with Iowa, they will win this game easily. They beat the Hawkeyes by eight in Iowa City in January, and just being down the road from College Park will be a huge advantage for Maryland. I see Maryland winning by double digits.

Championship Round

I think the power of Purdue this year is too strong to go against. Even though their only meeting in College Park was a 1 point squeaker over the Terps, I think the Boilermakers will take their second Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament title in 2017.

Mike Voza

1st Round

Penn State over over Nebraska and Rutgers over Ohio State. Rutgers is well coached, plays great defense and has been improving all season long.

2nd Round

Michigan over Illinois. Derrick Walton is very good and very dangerous. Michigan State over Penn St/Nebraska. Tom Izzo’s freshman are ready to roll. Iowa over Indiana because Fran McCaffery maybe the best coach in the conference. Rutgers over Northwestern because Chris Collins is coaching and not playing.


Michigan over Purdue, see the UM note in the previous round. Michigan State over Minnesota because Izzo can out coach his counterparts entire family. Wisconsin over Iowa because the Badgers simply can win a lot of games in March. Maryland over Rutgers, if Melo Trimble can’t find his way to the arena then the Scarlet Knights will win.


Michigan State over Michigan unless the Wolverines find a way to put 5 Derrick Walton’s in uniform.

Wisconsin over Maryland unless the Terrapins find a way to put 5 Melo Trimble’s in uniform.

Championship Game

Michigan State over Wisconsin. As good as Wisconsin is historically in March the MSU Fighting Izzo’s are even better.

David Anderson

1st Round

Penn State over over Nebraska on talent alone. Rutgers over Ohio State because the Knights should be more juiced up and played tough in Columbus earlier this year. Sanders will be out for blood.

2nd Round

Michigan over Illinois, did you watch the Illini run out of gas this past weekend? Michigan State over Penn St. Izzo with this much time to prepare is a W. Indiana over Iowa because the Hoosiers should be all over Jok and want revenge. Rutgers over Northwestern because they should be sharper after a win the previous day and a deep bench.


Michigan over Purdue because they should easily win the night before and shake off the rust. Michigan State over Minnesota for a third time this season. Wisconsin over Indiana because the Badgers should be disciplined against a team that gave their all the night before. Maryland over Rutgers, the Knights will be out of gas.


Michigan State over Michigan because the Wolverines will have exerted too much energy against Purdue. Wisconsin over Maryland, The Terrapins are relying too much on runs which the Badgers will limit.

Championship Game

Wisconsin defeats Michigan State. No team this year can win 4 games in the B1G tournament.


1st Round

The much improved Penn State Nittany Lions will knock out Nebraska in the first round. Rutgers is playing tough right now and will get revenge on the Buckeyes the second time around.

2nd Round

Illinois needs a very strong showing in order to garner a birth into the NCAA tournament and I think they start off strong with a win over Michigan. Tom Izzo will have the Spartans ready and will knock out Penn State. Indiana will get revenge over Iowa and Rutgers will give Northwestern a scare, but ultimately Northwestern gets the W.


In the third round I have Purdue over Illinois, Michigan State over Minnesota, Wisconsin over Indiana, and Maryland over Northwestern.


Tom Izzo strikes again and takes out the number one seed Purdue (did I tell you I like Tom Izzy?), Melo Trimble and the Terrapins win going away against Wisconsin.


Your Big Ten Champions - the Maryland Terrapins. I like Maryland here and there end of season resiliency with wins over Rutgers and Michigan State to close the season after three straight losses to Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa.

Dave White

1st Round

PSU over Nebraska and OSU over Rutgers.

2nd Round

Michigan over Illinois, Michigan State over PSU, Iowa over Indiana, OSU over Northwestern.


Purdue over Michigan, Michigan State over Minnesota, Wisconsin over Iowa, Maryland over Ohio State.


Michigan State over Purdue, Maryland over Wisconsin.


Maryland over Michigan State.

Aaron Breitman

1st Round

Penn State over Nebraska, as the young core starts to gel for coach Pat Chambers. Rutgers over Ohio State, read my game preview here.

2nd Round

Michigan over Illinois, as Beilein’s bunch have too much offense and will have a lot of fan support. Michigan State over Penn State, as Miles Bridges announces his arrival on the March stage. Iowa over Indiana, as the Hawkeyes look to sneak into the big dance. Northwestern over Rutgers, as they need this win to secure their first ever NCAA Tournament bid. People forget, the Wildcats handled Rutgers at the RAC and kept them within an arm’s length the entire game. It’s possible the fighting Pikiell’s pull off the upset, but it will take a near perfect performance to do so.


Purdue over Michigan, as the Wolverines have no answer for Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas in the paint. Michigan State over Minnesota, as Bridges becomes the talk of the Tournament. Iowa over Wisconsin, as the Hawkeyes are growing before our eyes with their freshman foursome making a big impact. Maryland over Northwestern, in front of will be a huge following from the local Terp fan base.


Purdue over Michigan State, as Swanigan proves why he should be National Player of the Year and they get hot from behind the arc. Maryland over Iowa, as Melo Trimble embraces the big stage in his last run.


Purdue over Maryland. This should be a good one and I expect the regular season champs to hold serve, as they simply are the most balanced team in the conference. Too many weapons for an overachieving Maryland team. Terps coach Mark Turgeon deserved more mention when it came to conference coach of the year.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and go RU!