Cleat Geeks

Tourney Talk: B1G 10

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Just like the rest of the NCAA, the B1G  is completely up for the grabs, with deep, talented teams looking to claim the title and make a run into the tournament. One or more B1G teams have represented the conference in each of the past four years, and this time around doesn’t seem to look any different.  The B1G tournament should be the first real taste of March Madness, as each of the top six seeds hold legitimate chances to win it, which should lead to thrilling basketball. Let’s take a look:

Teams to Watch:

Indiana (25-6, 15-3)

After a crippling early-season stretch featuring losses to Wake Forest, UNLV, and Duke, Tom Crean helped his Hoosiers turn on its electrifying offense and ride an undefeated home record to #1 in the B1G.  Arguably playing the best basketball over the past month, Indiana ranks #11 in the nation in points per gaYogi-Ferrellme (82.7) behind star point guard Yogi Ferrell and forward Tory Williams.  A dominating closer versus Maryland proved the Hoosiers can match up with the conference’s best.  However, I don’t think Indiana has the size to match up with Purdue’s big men in the semifinals. With that said, I expect an early exit from the regular season champs; but if they do make the final, anticipate a competitive loss against Michigan State’s stout defense and paint.  Albeit, depending on match-ups, the Hoosiers can still easily make a deep run into March.  Don’t be surprised to see Crean’s crew in the Elite Eight in a few weeks.

Michigan State (26-5, 13-5)

Take away a sickening three-game January losing streak and Sparty is unarguably the top team in the nation. Led by USA Today Player of the Year Winner Denzel Valentine, MSU clearly has what it takes to take the B1G. #1 in 3P%and assists, 6th in rebounds, and scoring over 80 points per game while only allowing 63, the Spartans are both offensively and defensively volatile.  They’ve already proven themselves with early wins against Kansas and Louisville, and they may even be able to win the conference without facing lat-sp-denzel-valentine-20150322Iowa or Purdue, two of their only losses.  Plus, MSU has Mr. March himself in Tom Izzo.  Expect Sparty to win the B1G, grab a #1, and blow through the first week or two of March Madness.

Dark Horses:

Purdue (24-7, 12-6)

Purdue’s big men make the team such an intriguing pick to wreak havoc in both the B1G tourney and March Madness. Two seven-fB9316331751Z.1_20150221211409_000_GQKA11V3G.1-0ooters in A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas help the Boilermakers stay fresh and strong in the paint, with freshman Caleb Swanigan helping in the scoring department. Purdue causes huge match-up problems for even the most versatile of teams, which could help them take down a smaller Indiana team in the B1G tournament, not to mention other guard-driven teams come the Madness. Don’t be surprised if the Boilermakers upset both Indiana and a high seed in the Round of 32 or Sweet Sixteen.

Wisconsin (20-11, 12-6)

Wisconsin needs to perform well this week for any chance at being included come Selection Sunday. They looked miserable early in the season, losing to Western Illinois, but have undergone a resurgence after Bo Ryan’s exit. Don’t forget Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig are the same leaders that helped last year’s team take down Kentucky and narrowly fall in the championship just two days later to Duke, not to mention the addition of Ethan Happ increases offensive versatility.  Wisconsin could make a splash and secure a tournament entry by taking down Maryland and hanging with big bad Sparty. It’s do or die time for the Badgers.

Other Notes:

Maryland has so much talent in Trimble and Sulaimon, yet just can’t seem to find rhythm. The Terrapins need to find some mojo and they can make a run into March, otherwise expect an early exit.  Also, Iowa is another dark horse if Uthoff and Woodbury can play with Purdue’s big men. They’ll create the same match-up problems as Purdue with talented post players, and the Hawkeyes could easily make it to the second weekend come March Madness.

Prediction:

Iowa and Purdue it is a big man’s game that the Boilermakers come out on top of, but either way the winner creates too many problems for Yogi Ferrell and Indiana, forcing an early exit for the regular season #1.  Michigan State beats up on Wisconsin before scooting by Purdue on their way to another B1G championship and #1 seed.

My Pick: Michigan State

 

 

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