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2021 Big Ten Tournament Preview

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The B1G Tourney is back! Maybe this time we can finish it.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Tournament Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The good news is that we’re going to get a full Big Ten Tournament this year. It was one year ago right now where the entire world went to hell, and the Big Ten Tournament coming back with limited fans is a sign of normalcy that is very welcome. So let’s take a look at hte opening games and try to make picks for each.

Wednesday

Game 1, 6:30pm: #12 Northwestern (9-14, 6-13) vs. #13 Minnesota (13-14, 6-14) - Minnesota’s drop-off has beens running even without their injury issues. This was a team hat was solidly in the top 25 in January and even had a win over Michigan. Now they are a dead team walking. Northwestern has played much better basketball of late and even beat them in Minneapolis a few weeks ago. Pick: Northwestern

Game 2, 9pm BTN: #11 Penn State (10-13, 7-12) vs. #14 Nebraska (7-19, 3-16) – This game should be very interesting because they played a pair of close games with each team losing at home. Sure, they aren’t going anywhere in the postseason, but they played some entertaining basketball against each other. Unfortunately, Nebraska lost to Penn State despite Teddy Allen going for 41. He is gone now. Pick: Penn State

Thursday

Game 3, 11:30am BTN: #8 Maryland (15-12, 9-11) vs. #8 Michigan State (15-11, 9-11) – This is as close to a bubble game as we will see, but both teams are probably in a good spot. I would say Michigan State is closest to the edge right now, but their run of late has possibly been enough. If they lose by 18 again like they did at Maryland last week that might have them off the edge. Based on the computer numbers the Spartans need this more. Pick: Michigan State

Game 4, 2pm BTN: #5 Ohio State (18-8, 12-8) vs. #12 Northwestern (10-14, 6-13) – Northwestern does hold a one point victory over the Buckeyes, but that was back in late December. Ohio State won by 10 in Columbus. The Buckeyes have lost four straight coming in, but they were to three of the best teams in the country and one of the hottest teams in the country. It is going to take a lot for Northwestern to upset them again. Pick: Ohio State

Game 5, 6:30pm BTN: #7 Rutgers (14-10, 10-10) vs. #10 Indiana (12-14, 7-12) – Is this the end for Archie Miller? Rutgers completing a three-game sweep of the Hoosiers would seem like it. Rutgers barely won in Bloomington, but in Piscataway they clowned the Hoosiers in the second half with a ton of layups and dunks. It was as bad as Indiana has looked all year, and that is saying something. Indiana is cooked. They have quit on the season. Pick: Rutgers

Game 6, 9pm BTN: #6 Wisconsin (16-11, 10-10) vs. #11 Penn State (11-13, 7-12) – Wisconsin has not been great, but not terrible all year. They didn’t have a single win against the five teams in front of them in the league standings. They split with Penn State, losing by 10 in Happy Valley and winning by 16 in Madison. I haven’t really been impressed with them and Penn State always seems good for one upset in this thing. Pick: Penn State

Friday

Game 7, 11:30am BTN: #1 Michigan (19-3, 14-3) vs. #9 Michigan State (16-11, 9-11) – What is this, a baseball series? The Wolverines could technically play Michigan State in three straight games. That makes this the rubber match. Tensions could also be high. Michigan State may have fully saved its season with a win over the Wolverines on Sunday and a second win would definitely get them in the tourney. Michigan has been shaky of late too. How will Eli Brooks be, too? Pick: Michigan State

Game 8, 2pm BTN: #4 Purdue (18-8, 13-6) vs. #5 Ohio State (19-8, 12-8) – With a win Purdue can tie the all-time series with the Buckeyes and open the door to a three seed in next week’s tournament, which is ideal for a nice little Elite Eight run. We’ve gotten a little lucky though. While we won both games, Ohio State was without E.J. Liddell in game 1 and C.J. Walker in game 2. With both I think it is just enough. Pick: Ohio State

Game 9, 6:30pm BTN: #2 Illinois (20-6, 16-4) vs. #7 Rutgers (15-10, 10-10) – Rutgers did beat Illinois 91-88 on December 20 in Piscataway, but that was a long time ago. Illinois is playing angry right now over how the conference title shook out. They are going to take it out on someone. Pick: Illinois

Game 10, 9pm BTN: #3 Iowa (20-7, 14-6) vs. #11 Penn State (12-13, 7-12) – Iowa won the regular season meeting by 6, but this is Penn State’s third game in 3 days against a fresh Iowa team. The Hawkeyes can just run them out of the gym and take advantage of dead legs. No Wednesday team has made it to Saturday yet in the Big Ten Tournament, and I don’t think it happens this year. Pick: Iowa

Saturday

Game 11, 1pm CBS: #9 Michigan State (17-11, 9-11) vs. #5 Ohio State (20-8, 12-8) – If this happens Izzo will be very glad to not see Trevion Williams again. Tre has absolutely destroyed the Spartans this year. These two teams split the regular season series too, so it should make for an entertaining game. Pick: Ohio State

Game 12, 3:30pm CBS: #2 Illinois (21-6, 16-4) vs. #3 Iowa (21-7, 14-6) – The Illini wont he only regular season game by 5, but they can actually play defense a bit. This could be a back and forth game into the 90s with all the offensive firepower available. I still like an angry Illinois. Pick: Illinois

Sunday

Game 13, 3:30pm CBS: #5 Ohio State (21-8, 12-8) vs. #2 Illinois (22-6, 16-4) – Ohio State won in Champaign by 6 but lost in Columbus by 5. That second one was just last week, too. They should be familiar with each other, but I am going to go with a near unstoppable Ayo Dosunmu. Pick: Illinois