When the first-ever early NCAA tournament Top-4 seeds were released recently, the Big Ten was left out. Though Wisconsin and Purdue were Top 16 teams in the polls, the selection committee thought otherwise.
It is widely acknowledged this is a down year for the Big Ten. This is easily understood when you realize Michigan State, Ohio State and Michigan are not among the top four teams record-wise in the conference.
The Badgers might be 21-4 (11-11 ATS) and atop the league, but they are being punished for a rather weak non-conference slate. In their defense, it was not known when they scheduled Syracuse and Oklahoma previously, they would be this lacking in talent. The Big Ten is still a respectable fourth in conference RPI, but the lack of athleticism in the entire league and player leadership on various teams are holding the conference back.
The next question for our purposes: Does this have impact on making NCAA basketball picks? We break it all down from a conference only perspective.
The current Top 4 teams in the league in standings order are Wisconsin, Purdue, Maryland and Northwestern. They have been the strongholds, and in 24 home games among them they have only been an underdog once. Here are their records, including those against the NCAA basketball odds, like those you would find at Skybook.
SU Wins 18 - Losses 6
ATS Wins 15 - Losses 8 - Push 1
0-1 SU with an ATS Push
The overview from this perspective is this group is the cream of the crop and the most dependable of the bunch. When playing at home, they protect it and are a reliable wager, even against double-digit spreads as a group.
What About Rest Of The Big Ten?
The balance of the conference is a collection of slightly above average to rather crummy squads, like Rutgers and Illinois. One factor that is noticeable on the average: they do a pretty good job defending the home court as favorites, both SU and against the spread in NCAA basketball picks. As underdogs, especially those in the bottom third of the league, they drag the numbers down, yet are not a terrible wager against the sportsbooks as you can seem below.
SU Wins 25 - Losses 12
ATS Wins 21 - Losses 16
SU Wins 7 - Losses 13
ATS Wins 11 - Losses 9
(Note: There have been three home teams that were a pick'em and they are 2-1 SU and 1-1-1 ATS)
Though a few elements could change as the Big Ten regular season comes to a close, backing home teams looks to be a rather secure bet. However, when the conference tournament arrives, all bets are off with it in Washington D.C.