Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals Preview

On Friday, the second day of the Big Ten Tournament will tip off in Indianapolis, Indiana. Michigan State will meet Iowa and Wisconsin will meet Indiana in the first half of the day. Minnesota and Michigan and Purdue and Ohio State will meet in the nightcap. While most of the Big Ten teams know where they will be headed after Sunday, a few are looking to still make their case for post-season play.

To see the Big Ten bracket, or other conference brackets, click here.

I’ll break down each game of the Big Ten Tournament, leaving Michigan’s games to the experts. Today, I’ll cover the quarterfinal games, excluding the Michigan game.

#1 Michigan State (24-7) (13-5) vs. #8 Iowa (17-15) (8-10)

Game Time: 12:00 PM EST.

TV: ESPN.

Season Series: Michigan State won (January 10th – 95-61 in East Lansing).

Last Ten Meetings: 8-2 Michigan State.

Winner Plays: Wisconsin/Indiana (1:40 PM EST on Saturday).

Notes: Iowa finished off Illinois on Thursday, winning by three in the early game. Iowa has been impressive as of late, winning six of their last ten, with wins over Indiana and Wisconsin during that stretch. The Hawkeyes have also defeated Wisconsin and Michigan earlier in the season. 3-star guards Roy Marble Jr. (11.1 PPG and 3.6 APG) and Matt Gatens (15.7 PPG and 42.9 Three Point Shooting Percentage) have led Iowa, as well as 3-star forward Aaron White (10.4 PPG and 5.4 RPG). Michigan State wrapped up the conference’s top seed a week before the season ended, but limped into the tournament, losing to Indiana and Ohio State. They also lost 5-star forward Branden Dawson for the rest of the season, due to a torn ACL. 3-star forward Draymond Green (16.2 PPG, 10.3 RPG, and 40.5 Three Point Shooting Percentage) and 4-star guard Keith Appling (11.5 PPG and 2.8 APG) have led the Spartans to a share of the Big Ten title.

My Take: Iowa hit another cold spell near the end of the opening round game, nearly giving the game away. Their defense stepped up and prevented Illinois from getting the win. If the previous meeting between Michigan State and Iowa is any clue, this one shouldn’t even be close. Iowa needs to avoid scoring droughts and needs to play solid defense, forcing players like Green to take shots outside of the key.

The Pick: Michigan State -11.

#4 Wisconsin (24-7) (11-7) vs. #5 Indiana (24-7) (11-7)

Game Time: 2:30 PM EST (approx).

TV: ESPN.

Season Series: Wisconsin won (January 26th – 57-50 in Madison).

Last Ten Meetings: 8-2 Wisconsin.

Winner Plays: Michigan State/Iowa (1:40 PM EST on Saturday).

Notes: Indiana beat lowly Penn State on Thursday, 75-58, to advance to the quarterfinals. Indiana hasn’t beaten Wisconsin since January 31, 2007 in Bloomington. Indiana has been the hottest team in the Big Ten, winning 10 of their last 13 games. Indiana has great wins over Kentucky, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan, Purdue (twice), Northwestern, and Michigan State, but they do have questionable losses to Minnesota, Nebraska, and Iowa. 5-star forward Cody Zeller (15.4 PPG, 6.4 RPG, and 63.5 Field Goal Shooting Percentage) and 4-star forward Christian Watford (11.8 PPG, 5.6 RPG, and 42.3 Three Point Shooting Percentage) led the Hoosiers this season. After losing three straight to Iowa, Michigan State, and Michigan, Wisconsin won 11 of their last 14 games, including wins over Purdue, Indiana, and Ohio State. 3-star guard Jordan Taylor (14.6 PPG and 4.1 APG), 2-star forward Ryan Evans (10.7 PPG, 6.9 RPG, and 43.2 Field Goal Shooting Percentage), and 4-star forward Jared Berggren (10.4 PPG, 5.0 RPG, and 45.5 Field Goal Shooting Percentage) led the Badgers to the four seed in the Big Ten Tournament.

My Take: Wisconsin has turned it on as of late, still they have struggled against the best teams in the Big Ten, going 1-4 against the top three teams. Indiana will be without 3-star Verdell Jones III (7.8 PPG and 3.2 APG), who suffered, at the best case, a knee sprain in the win over Penn State.

The Pick: Wisconsin +1.5.

#3 Ohio State (25-6) (13-5) vs. #6 Purdue (21-11) (10-8)

Game Time: 9:00 PM EST (approx).

TV: Big Ten Network and ESPN3.

Season Series: Ohio State won (February 7th – 87-84 in Columbus).

Last Ten Meetings: N/A.

Winner Plays: Michigan/Minnesota (4:05 PM EST [approx] on Saturday).

Notes: Earlier in the season, there were concerns that Purdue might miss the NCAA Tournament. A win over Nebraska on Thursday avoided an early exit and punched Purdue’s ticket to the Big Dance. For Boilermaker fans, those fears have ended with their recent play - winning six of their last eight games. Purdue has quality wins over Temple, Miami (FL), Northwestern (twice), and Michigan. 4-star forward Robbie Hummel (16.8 PPG, 7.0 RPG, and 82.8 Free Throw Shooting Percentage), 3-star guard Lewis Jackson (10.5 PPG, 4.2 APG, 48.3 Field Goal Shooting Percentage), and 3-star guard Ryne Smith (9.4 RPG, 43.8 Field Goal Shooting Percentage, and 42.8 Three Point Shooting Percentage) have led Purdue offensively, this season. Ohio State was 9-2 in the Big Ten before they stumbled a bit, finishing 4-3 down the stretch. The Buckeyes will need to better utilize their bench if they want to go deep both in the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments. 5-star center Jared Sullinger (16.9 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 53.5 Field Goal Shooting Percentage), 5-star guard William Buford (15.1 PPG, 2.9 APG, and 83.5 Free Throw Shooting Percentage), and 5-star forward Deshaun Thomas (15.1 PPG, 4.9 RPG, and 52.6 Field Goal Shooting Percentage) have led Ohio State this season.

My Take: The key thing with Ohio State is to get them into foul trouble by playing physically. Taking away Sullinger’s inside game forces him to make bad decisions, resulting in scoring opportunities for the opposition. Purdue has played close with the Buckeyes in Columbus and is capable of beating Ohio State on a neutral court.

The Pick: Ohio State -7.5.

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