Conference play in college basketball is underway. Each victory now moves a team one step closer to locking up not only the regular season title but the No.1 seed for its end-of-the-season conference tournament. Sportsbook.ag has released its futures odds to snag that coveted regular season title for all the major conferences, so today we will take a look at the current odds for the Big Ten.
The team at the top of this list in the Big Ten is the No.5 Indiana Hoosiers at even money. They kicked off conference play with a 69-65 victory over Iowa on Dec.31 as seven-point road favorites to improve to 13-1 on the year. It will be difficult for any team in the nation to keep pace with a Hoosiers team that is shooting 51 percent from the field while leading the country in scoring with an average of 87.9 points a game. Cody Zeller continues to set the pace with a team-high 16.6 points and 8.1 rebounds a game. Overall, Indiana has five players scoring in double figures, with four all shooting better than 50 percent from the floor. Jordan Hulls has been deadly from three-point range; converting on 51.4 percent of his attempts.
The No.2 Michigan Wolverines have made a strong push to the top of the rankings with a perfect 15-0 start that includes lopsided victories over Northwestern and Iowa to start play in the Big Ten. They have been opened at +200 to end up as the No.1 seed in the conference at the end of the regular season. The Wolverines are another team that can light up a scoreboard with an average of 82 points a game. Through the first half of the season, they have the second-best shooting percentage in the nation in hitting on 52.2 percent of their attempts from the floor and 42.3 percent from three-point range. The top two scorers on this squad are Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. Burke is averaging 18.2 points and a team-high 7.5 assists, while Hardaway Jr. is chipping in another 16.4 points and five rebounds a game. Glen Robinson III rounds out this potent trio with 12.5 points and 6.1 rebounds a game.
The other team opened as a +200 second-favorite is the No.8 Ohio State Buckeyes. A 74-55 loss to Illinois this past Saturday as three-point road favorites will drop the Buckeyes in the next AP poll. They now have three losses on the year against 11 wins. As Deshaun Thomas goes, so goes Ohio State for the remainder of the season. He leads the team with 20.4 points and 6.8 rebounds while shooting 46.4 percent from the field and 39.1 percent from beyond the arc. The only other player scoring in double-figures is Lenzelle Smith Jr. with an average of 11.4 points a game to go along with 5.2 rebounds. If the Buckeyes can get some more production from the rest of the roster, then they could gel into a very dangerous team down the stretch.
The odds fall off quite a bit for the rest of the conference, with No.18 Michigan State next at +600 and No.9 Minnesota and Wisconsin at +800. While the Golden Gophers remain a team to watch with a 14-1 record overall and a 2-0 start in Big Ten play, our top longshot in the conference is the No.11 Illinois Fighting Illini at +1500. They bounced back from a stunning loss to Purdue in their Big Ten opener to knock off Ohio State, and they have a huge matchup against Minnesota this Wednesday night. Illinois is currently 14-2 overall on the year. What makes the Fighting Illini a team to watch is a trio of shooters that are all scoring in double figures. Brandon Paul has led the way with 18.5 points a game while shooting 37.6 percent from three-point range. Tracy Adams is averaging 12.1 points, and DJ Richardson is chipping in another 10.6 points a game. Illinois also has some solid depth throughout its roster to help the cause.
By Dave Schwab of Docsports.com