The Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals are here and plenty of exciting matchups are on the schedule for it. After a few nail biters yesterday, there are more great games set to take place today.
Let’s take a look at the games.
-No. 9 Indiana Hoosiers (19-12, 9-11) vs. No. 1 Illinois Fighting Illini (22-8, 15-5)
- Time/TV: 11:30 AM EST (Big Ten Network)
- TallySight Spread: Illinois -4
Indiana survives to play another day after a huge comeback from a 15-point first half deficit to outscore Michigan 46-28 in the second half yesterday. Now the Hoosiers get a well-rested Illini squad to open the day’s action. The two teams played just once in the regular season in Bloomington with Illinois handily winning 74-57.
The Hoosiers were able to come back big against Michigan thanks to big momentum on offense in a performance the team hasn’t often been able to achieve this season. IU’s strength has definitely been its defense this season, and the Hoosiers had plenty in holding Michigan to just 37.9 percent shooting from the field. Indiana will need to carry that same combination into the Illinois game to have a chance. Luckily for IU, the Hoosiers lead the Big Ten in field goal percentage defense. Using a strong defensive effort to flow into an offense hitting shots will result in spoiler action for Indiana.
Luckily for Illinois, the three-point shooting the Illini bring to the field should be more than enough to counter IU’s strong defense. It certainly was last time when Illinois notched 10 three-pointers and hit 48 percent of shots from the field. Illinois’s defense also held IU to just 36 percent shooting. Illinois also leads the Big Ten on the glass and should be able to limit second chance opportunities for Indiana while maximizing them for itself.
Biggest difference maker in this one, though? Most likely could end up being IU at the free throw line. If Indiana shoot as poorly as it did against Michigan, this game won’t even be close. If IU can knock down free throws in a high percentage, this may get exciting as the clock winds down.
- Pick: Illinois
-No. 5 Iowa Hawkeyes (23-9, 12-8) vs. No. 4 Rutgers Scarlet Knights (18-12, 12-8)
- Time/TV: 25 minutes after Illinois-Indiana (Big Ten Network)
- TallySight Spread: Iowa -7
A clash of opposites awaits in today’s second game when the Hawkeyes take on the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers has been one of the favorites in the league over the last month pulling off plenty of impressive wins. Iowa also obliterated Northwestern yesterday, scoring 116 points.
The Scarlet Knights held Iowa to well below half of that in the only regular season meeting between the two teams, winning 48-46. Rutgers can’t win a shootout against Iowa, but the Hawkeyes don’t exactly place a priority on defense. If the Scarlet Knights can hold Iowa to the same poor shooting and limit offensive possessions like last time, this one should likely be just as ugly of a game.
As for Iowa, the Hawkeyes should have plenty of confidence heading into this matchup. Rutgers is a poor free throw shooting team and the Hawkeyes have one of the most efficient offenses in the country. Even on a cold shooting day, it should be just enough on a neutral court to get the job done.
- Pick: Rutgers
-No. 7 Michigan State Spartans (21-11, 11-9) vs. No. 2 Wisconsin Badgers (24-6, 15-5)
- Time/TV: 6:30 PM EST (Big Ten Network)
- DraftKings Spread: Wisconsin -2
After just barely avoiding a furious late game rally by Maryland assisted by lots of costly turnovers by the Spartans, MSU and Wisconsin will face off for the third time this season later today. Michigan State soundly defeated the Badgers in Madison 86-74 in January but fell 70-62 in East Lansing last month.
The Spartans have been anything but consistent of late. Losing seven of the last 11 games has Michigan State fans frustrated for sure. The team has been inconsistent on offense and, like yesterday against Maryland, finds turnovers to be an Achilles heel.
As for Wisconsin, the Badgers come into the game rested but certainly frustrated. Wisconsin blew a double digit lead to Nebraska Sunday in the regular season finale and lost a chance at an outright Big Ten title while snapping a five-game win streak. Johnny Davis is also expected to return after suffering an ankle sprain late against Nebraska. If he struggles on offense and Brad Davis doesn’t hit an absurdly high percentage of three-pointers, this may be a short visit to Indianapolis.
If the Michigan State team that downed Purdue just three weeks ago and bullied the Badgers in Madison in January shows up, MSU should advance. If Wisconsin can avoid what it did against Nebraska Sunday, that should be just enough to beat the Spartans and head to the semi-finals.
- Pick: Wisconsin
-No. 11 Penn State (14-16, 7-13) vs. No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers (25-6, 14-6)
- Time/TV: 25 minutes after Wisconsin-Michigan State (Big Ten Network)
- TallySight Spread: Not available at drafting
The Nittany Lions managed to pull off the upset over Ohio State late last night in an impressive 71-68 victory to live on for another day after advancing over Minnesota Wednesday. In the lone regular season matchup between Purdue and PSU, the Boilermakers left State College with a 74-67 victory.
Penn State is a tough team to nail down, though. That game against Purdue was a close one throughout with PSU only letting Purdue pull away into double digits briefly in the second half. In multiple games against top teams this season, Penn State has kept it close with a few upsets along the way, too. This game might just be the same way if PSU can hold Purdue to the same low percentage shooting from the field as it did Ohio State.
Purdue is unlikely to hit just 38.9 percent from three-point range, however. On top of that, the Boilermakers will be well rested having been off the past six days whereas Penn State has played two games since Wednesday and will be entering its fourth game in five days tonight. Combine Purdue’s size down low, scoring from three-point range, and Penn State’s legs, and this one isn’t likely to be close. Also working against the Nittany Lions is the fact that no team that opened play Wednesday has advanced to Saturday since the Big Ten Tournament’s expansion to 14-teams in 2015.
- Pick: Purdue