The Big Ten Conference Tournament is set to begin on March 10th. Clearly, this is a three team race for the title with a couple of teams on the bubble to make the NCAA tournament.
Can anyone take down the top dogs and earn their way themselves a trip to the big dance? Let's take a closer look.
(1) Ohio State Buckeyes
Clearly the number 1 team in the land is the class of this conference and are most likely the favorites to win the national championships. They're coming off of a revenge game in where they destroyed the 13th ranked Wisconsin Badgers, 93-65. Senior guard Jon Diebler is on fire. In his last 2 games, Diebler has shot 17 of 20 from 3 point range. If Diebler continues to play like this, he'll run the other teams out of the building. The Buckeyes are led by forward Jared Sullinger at 17.3 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. Sullinger also shoots 55.7% from the field and is dominant on the inside. With support from William Buford (14.5 PPG), David Lighty (12.3 PPG),and Jon Diebler (12.3 PPG)(..511 3P%), the Buckeyes are unstoppable. They're 2nd in the nation shooting 50% from the field, 17th in points (78), and 19th in assists (16.2)
Key Wins: Florida, Purdue Wisconsin
Ohio State should win this tournament. They have all of the momentum, coming off of a huge win over Wisconsin.
(3) Wisconsin Badgers
The 13th ranked Badgers are a two-headed attack led by Jon Leuer (18.9 PPG, 7.3RPG) and Jordan Taylor (18.2 PPG, 4.8 APG, 4.2 RPG). Both players shoot well from the field and from the line. This team is laced with accuracy. They rank number 1 in the nation from the free throw line at 82.7% and also shoot 38% from 3 point range. Not only do they have offensive, they can play defense. Wisconsin ranks 9th in the nation, allowing just 59.1 points per game and rank 5th, only allowing 25.9 rebounds per game. Ohio State isn't playing on their home court and the Badgers pose a major threat to the Buckeyes in trying steal the Big Ten Championship away from them.
Key Wins: Ohio State,
Ohio State is the favorite in this tourney but look for Wisconsin to give them a legitimate fight if they meet up. They would play at a neutral site and the Badgers have an outside shot to win the Big Ten Chamionship
(3) Purdue Boilermakers
The Boilermakers are ranked 9th in the country. They're coming off of a crushing defeat to one of the worst teams in the league. That will definitely leave a lasting impression going into this tournament. If they can't beat a team that's 11-19, I don't expect them to go very far. They've had a good season and in a conference that lacks depth, they have to be mentioned near the top. Purdue has two major offensive threats and that can't be overlooked. Leading the team is JaJuan Johnson who had a 22 point, 12 rebound performance in his last game. Johnson averages 20.5 points and 8.1 rebounds per game and second leading scorer E'Twaun Moore averages 18.3 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. This is a team filled with complimentary players but when you have a team with a double offensive threat like Purdue does, they can beat any given team on any given night. Defensively, Purdue only allows 61 points per game which is good enough for 25th in the country.
Key Wins: Wisconsin, Ohio State
This team has major potential and has beaten the two best teams in the league. Their erratic play leads me to believe that their not going to win the Big Ten Chamionship after being defeated by one of the Big Ten's worst teams.(Iowa). They're unpredictable and not a team that I would lay my money on.Remaining Contenders
Michigan and Illinois are both (19-12, 9-9). I can't put them on the list of contenders to win the conference. What they do need is to go deep into the conference tournament with a couple of wins to assure themselves of a spot in the NCAA Tornament. They play eachother in the quarterfinals but one of them would have to have a great showing because the winner would be facing Ohio State (most likely)Michigan State
(17-13, 9-9) is on the outside looking in. They wouldn't meet the Buckeyes until the finals if they got far. Pulling off 3 straight victories might give them some consideration to make it to the big dance. This is all speculation and they don't appear to be a viable contender in this tournament.
The remaining teams, including Penn State
(16-13, 9-9) would have to win the Big Ten Conference Championship to make it the NCAA tourney
and I don't see any of the remaining teams having any chance whatsoever of winning the Conference title and the lower ranks should be knocked out early. Big Ten Tournament selection:
Ohio State has all of the momentum and should win the Big Ten title.