By Jack Hamrick
Just days away from the Big Ten tournament, each team is looking to either make their case for the NCAA Tournament, or ruin someone else’s chance at glory. This conference is built on pride and tradition, and no matter how a teams’ season has gone, they will be diving for every ball, and playing until the final whistle. Here’s a look at the favorites and sleepers for the B1G tourney!
The young, run-and-gun Spartans are not only the best team in the Big Ten, but the best team in the country. Averaging about 5 blocks a game, the lengthy Michigan State Spartans are hard to score on. With four freshmen and one sophomore starting, the Spartans are young and fast, always looking to push the tempo. With future lottery pick Miles Bridges, the Spartans could be scary not only in the Big Ten Tourney, but in March as well.
From 11 seed to 2 seed in just one year, the Buckeyes have shown a lot of promise for the postseason. Beating Purdue on the road and Michigan State by 16 at home, Ohio State seems to be the biggest threat to the other top seeds. Wooden Award hopeful Keita Bates-Diop one of the most dangerous weapons in the country, leading the Big Ten in PPG and leading OSU in RPG. Filled with veterans, the Bucks could surprise a lot of their doubters come tourney time.
After having a season they would like to soon forget, a lot of people have counted them out. With too poor a record to make it to the big dance, Wisconsin has one thing in mind: earn the automatic bid. In the past week, Wisconsin has beaten Purdue and played Michigan State tough; although, both wins coming at home. Coming into MSG with nothing but vengeance on their mind, Wisconsin is ready to shake the tournament up.
A bubble team for the NCAA tourney, the Huskers come in to MSG as the 5 seed. Nebraska plays very calm and collected, lead behind their strong guard play. The Nebraska offense is controlled by James Palmer, averaging 17.6 PPG. They have showed flashes of being a great team, and kept things things tight with Ohio State on the road. If the Huskers can figure out their flow, they can be lethal this week.
With regular season play behind us, every team is looking forward to tournament play. Anything could happen at Madison Square Garden this week, especially with the old time rivalries within the Big Ten Conference.