What a wild quarterfinal Friday it was in the Big Ten! Not only did three of the top-four seeds go down, but Indiana solidified its spot in the NCAA tournament, and Michigan State earned a hard-fought quality win over Wisconsin to build some momentum into the NCAA Tournament. Going into Saturday, we’re faced with some surprising but intriguing matchups.
-No. 9 Indiana Hoosiers (20-12, 10-11) vs. No. 5 Iowa Hawkeyes (24-9, 14-6)
- Time/TV: 1:00 PM EST (CBS)
- Spread: Iowa (-6)
- Total: 144.0
The Indiana Hoosiers. Man, what can you even say at this point. With just under 13 minutes remaining in their opening round matchup against Michigan, the Hoosiers looked dead in the water. They were down 17 points and it looked very likely they would miss the tournament after looking like a shoe-in just a few weeks ago.
But credit to Indiana; they fought back hard and fast. They managed to claw their way back and win that game against Michigan, and the very next day, they knocked off No. 1 seed Illinois, all but locking up their NCAA Tournament bid.
But in their semi-final matchup, they run into a certified wagon. Iowa has been one of the hottest teams in the country—certainly the Big Ten—having won seven of their last eight matchups. The Hawkeyes have breezed through their first two Big Ten tournament games, including a 112-point offensive explosion in their win over Northwestern.
The first semi-final matchup of Saturday is strength on strength: Iowa’s offense vs. Indiana’s defense. At the end of the day, I think Iowa is the more complete team, and Indiana has proven all it needs to in this tournament. I see a competitive matchup where Iowa puts itself on top late with some big buckets by Keegan Murray.
- Prediction: Iowa wins, 75-69
-No. 7 Michigan State Spartans (22-11, 11-9) vs. No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers (26-9, 14-6)
- Time/TV: 3:30 PM EST (CBS)
- Spread: Purdue (-6)
- Total: 143.5
Michigan State, despite having won two straight games vs. Maryland, still felt like a massive underdog going into Friday’s game against No. 2 seed Wisconsin. Maybe this was a misperception on my part, but nevertheless Sparty proved itself on the back of an impressive defensive performance, holding Johnny Davis to 11 points on 3-19 shooting.
The Spartans run into No. 3 seed Purdue, who escaped a close call against Penn State Friday night. The Boilermakers haven’t exactly inspired confidence in their fans down the stretch of the season, but remain the odds-on favorite to win the Big Ten tournament.
To me, this is a “prove-it” game for both of these teams. Both Purdue and MSU have shown shades of being a bit fraudulent at various points of the season, and despite making their ways to the semis, I don’t exactly feel good about their chances come March Madness. I think Purdue pulls this one out, but in a closer game than the spread might indicate.
- Prediction: Purdue wins, 65-63
[Editor’s Note: This article previously referred to Iowa’s win over Nebraska. It should have referred to a win over Northwestern.]