Big 10, Big Dance Handicapping Preview (Free Play)

Big 10, Big Dance Handicapping Preview (Free Play) By: We are taking a quick look at the Big Ten and the Big Dance as the Big Ten Tournament starts today. And of course the Big Ten Tournament will have a big impact on the Big Dance seeds.



#1. Ohio State (24-7) We are going to give Ohio State the nod in the Big 10. Much has been said about the starting 5 of Ohio State and I can agree they do have the best starting 5 in the Big 10. When handicapping the Big 10 for this year’s March Madness don’t be surprised if we find Ohio State a little undervalued. Ohio State seems to have recovered from the loss of Evan Turner and completed a stretch run going 13 – 2. Even with the possibility for a #1 seeding, betting March Madness is whole different ball game and I don’t see Ohio State making a huge run this year. More than likely we will put Ohio State on the not-play-list early on in the Big Dance.



#2. Michigan State (24-7) Being close to this program I find no secrets with the Michigan State basketball program. Simple, if they play their best ball they will go far in the Big Dance and the Final Four is well within their reach. If they don’t play their best basketball, they could be bounced in the 1st or 2nd round and no one would be surprised. Couple things to look at when thinking about handicapping the Spartans, first off if they get a good seeding and become heavy favorites in the opening round you might just want to stay away from the game overall as MSU is not a team that cover big lines. As March Madness continues down the stretch and if you find Michigan State deep in tournament and find them posted as a dog or pick game, jump on the Spartans. With a ton experience heading into March Madness this team can go a long way. If you looking at the Big Ten tournament Michigan State gets the winner of the Minnesota and Penn State game and they went a solid 4 - 0 SU against those two teams while covering the line in 3 of the 4 games.



#3. Purdue (26-4) Some will remember before the season started we picked Purdue as a Final Four team and a shot at the National Championship. Well, we looked pretty smart when they opened the season 14 – 0. When handicapping Purdue most are taking a wait and see approach with huge loss of Robbie Hummel. We are not taking the wait and see approach and we have downgraded Purdue and here is why. Purdue could have received a #1 seed without winning the Big 10 Tournament but that is not going to happen now and the only way they get a #1 seed is to win the Big 10 Tournament. That’s a tall order for any Big 10 team.



#4. Wisconsin (23-7) This is an easy one as Wisconsin falls squarely in the 4th position but everyone knows how much I appreciate the coaching and play of the Badgers. There might not be a more fundamentally sound team in the country and I don’t mean just this year. Coach Ryan always brings an incredible consistency in fundamentals each and every year. No surprise again as Wisconsin holds down the number 1 defense in the Big Ten. For handicapping purposes, I’ll more than likely be passing on their first game unless we see a short number but will certainly be watching if they continue on. The biggest hurdle for the Badgers could be their first game in the Big Ten Tournament as they face the outside looking in bubble of Illinois. Illinois has to win to get in but Wisconsin will be playing with big time revenge.



#5. Minnesota (18 - 12) I m going to catch lot of flak for putting Minnesota ahead of Illinois but this under achieving team can open some eyes in the Big Ten Tournament and I expect them to step up. Minnesota beat both Illinois and Wisconsin down the stretch and should be considered the team no one wants to play. They bring sharp shooters from beyond the arch and that does several things for them. One, it opens the driving lanes and secondly, there are never out of range if they start dropping the bombs from 3.



Minnesota is our Free Play for today and we will be on them in tonight’s Big Ten Opening Day



#6. Northwestern (19-12) Once again the Illinois folks are not going to like I also put Northwestern above them but I think Northwestern is in. Going back we find some pretty good wins for this team and they gave every team in the Big Ten fits. They lead the Big Ten in scoring this season and just behind Minnesota they are a team that no one wants to face in the Big Ten Tournament. They should be able to get by Indiana in the first game and will then take on Purdue. I don’t put the Purdue game out of reach for Northwestern as they have already beaten once this year and they will bring that confidence into the game.



#7. Illinois (18-13) Illinois is a team looking from the outside in and that is a far cry from where they thought they would be. I put Minnesota and Penn State above Illinois because I believe they will be one and done in the Big 10 Tournament. Illinois knocked of Wisconsin on the road and that sets up a huge revenge game for Wisconsin this Friday. Illinois struggled down the stretch dropping 4 of their last 5 games. Perhaps their biggest win of the season for Illinois will be their downfall in the end.



Tough to see any of these teams going anywhere and right now all they can do is play spoiler.


#8. Michigan (14-16) the less said the better.

#9. Penn State (11-19) Penn State finished last in the Big Ten but is the most improved team of this list #10. Iowa (10-21) Maybe a tie at the bottom with Indiana

#11. Indiana (10-20) does not get any worse than being put behind Iowa