Tomorrow afternoon, the Big Ten Tournament gets underway. Frankly, I love this tourney, but I hate how it forces some teams to play three or even four games on consecutive days. However, you knew the job was dangerous when you took it and if you get to the magic final day, you’re all but assured a ticket to the big dance anyway.
Here’s my call for the games tomorrow….but really, there’s not much of a challenge to calling these three games. The Big Ten has three really bad times and they all play tomorrow, so there should be no surprise as to who wins.
Noon – Minnesota (9) vs. Michigan (8)
Minnesota has nothing to live for, and Michigan has all the motivation in the world. The Wolverines NEED to win if they want to make the NCAA Tourney. 20 wins is not enough for them, and beating Minny would give them 21. Still might not be enough for the Blue, but it’s the biggest “must-win” of the year for them. Plus, Minnesota eliminated them last year from this tournament, so you can add the revenge factor in.
230pm – Michigan State (7) vs. Northwestern (10)
I still can’t understand how MSU ended up 7th in the Big Ten. They are Top 4 material, but it is what it is. Sparty is a lock for the NCAA Tournament, but they still have a lot to prove. Don’t expect a letup against a weak first-round opponent like Northwestern. But Michigan State had better be careful and not get caught looking ahead to a second-round rubber match against Wisconsin…..
5pm – Illinois (6) vs. Penn State (11)
Illinois is the most overlooked team in the Big Ten. Only two years removed from a 37-2 record and a spot in the NCAA Championship game, I still can’t understand why more teams don’t fear the Illini more. I personally believe that Illinois is the scariest team in the Big Ten Tournament, and they’ll show it against Penn State, who have a big day of cleaning out their lockers planned for Friday.
Tomorrow, I’ll post my predictions for Round 2…I see two, maybe three upsets on that day…..