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2015 Big Ten Tournament Preview

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For the first time 14 teams will play in the Big Ten Tournament.

Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten Tournament is here and, unlike when the tournament is Indianapolis, we are not. Normally I would be courtside, but since it is in Chicago, I just started a new job, have limited time off, and can't afford to pay for a hotel room for five days, we're doing everything remote. Fortunately, I would miss, at most, three Purdue games. By the time Purdue takes the court on Friday afternoon there will have already been seven of the 13 games played, meaning seven teams will already be out.

Action gets underway today, so let's look at each game and try to pick each one:

Wednesday:

No. 12 Nebraska vs. No. 13 Penn State, 4:30pm, ESPN2

Two great individual scorers in Terran Petteway and D.J. Newbill go at each other in this game, but there is not much else. Petteway has Shavon Shields as help, but Penn State won the regular season meeting but Penn State won the regular season meeting in State College a few weeks ago. That started an eight game losing streak for Nebraska, who has mentally checked out. With a win Penn State can be eligible for the NIT. Prediction: Penn State

No. 11 Minnesota vs. No. 14 Rutgers, 7pm, BTN

If Nebraska was the biggest disappointment in the league Minnesota was a close second. The Golden Gophers could not win a close game at all. They lost seven Big Ten games by five points or less. Rutgers just lost. A lot. Minnesota won the regular season meeting by nine in Minneapolis and the Scarlet Knights, despite stunning Wisconsin in one of the most shocking upsets of the season, are really, really bad. Prediction: Minnesota

Thursday:

No. 8 Illinois vs. No. 9 Michigan, Noon, BTN

Illinois is desperate to get on the good side of the Bubble and teams like Iona and Murray State are desperate to have Michigan knock them off. These teams played twice and won at home in overtime, so it should be a good game. Despite its record, Michigan is a team that fights. They lost four Big Ten games in overtime this season. That is a snakebitten team, but I think they beat an Illinois team that is fading a bit. Prediction: Michigan

No. 5 Iowa vs. No. 13 Penn State, 2:30pm, BTN

D.J. Newbill is good enough to take over a game and win it for the Nittany Lions, but Iowa is one of the hottest teams in the league with six straight wins. They haven't beaten good teams in that stretch, but they are still winning. Fortunately, Penn State is not a good team. The Hawkeyes should move on. Prediction: Iowa

No. 7 Indiana vs. No. 10 Northwestern, 6:30pm, ESPN2

This is an absolute must-win for the Hoosiers, who have to be out of the tournament if they drop this one. Now they have to beat a Northwestern team that beat them pretty easily in Evanston a couple of weeks ago. The Wildcats bizarrely own Tom Crean two, winning eight of twelve. The Wildcats are playing much better basketball overall and could still get an NIT bid with a win. I think they get it. Prediction: Northwestern

No. 6 Ohio State vs. No. 11 Minnesota, 9pm, ESPN2

One of the ridiculously close losses for Minnesota was a double overtime home loss to the Buckeyes earlier in the season. As Purdue learned, D'Angelo Russell can win a game when the rest of his team is not playing well. Then again, Purdue was one of the few teams to lose a close game to Minnesota. At least the Gophers already have a decent overall record and should still make the NIT. Prediction: Ohio State

Friday:

No. 1 Wisconsin vs. No. 9 Michigan, Noon, ESPN

Unless Michigan hits a ton of threes, Wisconsin is going to roll in this one. If Illinois gets here the Illini desperately need a good win, but they aren't good enough to beat Wisconsin. Either way, the Badgers will win. Prediction: Wisconsin

No. 4 Purdue vs. No. 5 Iowa, 2:30pm, ESPN

These two teams played a fun game in West Lafayette with the Boilers getting a win that probably propelled them onto the big run that got them to 20 wins. Iowa is on a good run, but their best wins in that stretch were over Illinois and Indiana. With a victory Purdue locks up a bid and avoids Dayton. I think we do that. Prediction: Purdue

No. 2 Maryland vs. No. 10 Northwestern winner, 6:30pm, BTN

Can Northwestern make it to Saturday? They beat Indiana and had Maryland beaten in College Park before an epic collapse. We've already seen the other forgotten five members (St. Francis NY, Army, William & Mary, The Citadel, and Northwestern) miss the tourney yet again. Can the Wildcats make a miracle run? I don't think so, but they are capable of pushing Maryland Prediction: Maryland

No. 3 Michigan State vs. No. 6 Ohio State winner, 9pm, BTN

I will be honest: Ohio State just scares me even when we don't play them. It just seems like they won't die, even though Wisconsin crushed them in Columbus this past weekend. Russell is too good of a player and I think he can get them a couple of wins in two days. Also, Michigan State can't hit free throws for squat to close out a game. Prediction: Ohio State

Saturday:

Semifinal 1: No. 1 Wisconsin vs. No. 4 Purdue, 1pm, CBS

Wisconsin is putting it all together right now and I don't think we can be consistent enough in scoring to beat them. We do have the size and showed in Madison we can match them in toughness. If the free throws are closer, who knows? Prediction: Wisconsin

Semifinal 2: No. 2 Maryland vs. No. 6 Ohio State, 3:30pm, CBS

The Buckeyes run out of gas on their third game in three days, allowing Maryland to take advantage. Imagine if Northwestern gets this far though, how fun could that be? Prediction: Maryland

Sunday:

Championship Game No. 1 Wisconsin vs. No. 2 Maryland, 3:30pm, CBS

It is chalk, but Wisconsin wants revenge for one of their two losses in conference play. I think they get it and lock up a No. 1 seed in the process. Prediction: Wisconsin