College Basketball Betting: Big Ten Tournament Preview
by Matt Severance - 03/10/2009
Michigan State is the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament for the first time since 1999, and as one would expect the Spartans are also the Bodog odds-on favorite at 6/5 to win it.
MSU beat Purdue on Sunday to reach 15 wins in Big Ten play for the first time since the 1998-99 season, when the Spartans reached the Final Four for the first time under Tom Izzo. And State has the Big Ten Player of the Year in Kalin Lucas, Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in Travis Walton, Big Ten Coach of the Year in Izzo and is on a five-game winning streak, so everything appears to be in place.
The Big Ten Tournament is being held in Indianapolis this year, so you might think of that as an advantage for a team like No. 3 seed Purdue (fellow in-state school Indiana is no real threat), which is the Bodog second-favorite at 5/2. But while the Boilermakers were just 3-7 ATS away from home this year, Michigan State had just one conference road loss - that coming at Purdue.
Michigan State will look to capture its first tournament title since 2000 and become the first team to win the Big Ten tourney three times. The No. 1 seed has won the tournament only four times overall. The Spartans open play Friday against the Minnesota-Northwestern winner.
The real question is if Michigan State can somehow grab a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament should the Spartans cruise through the Big Ten. There might be two spots up for grabs, with North Carolina and the Big East winner (assuming it's Connecticut, Louisville or Pittsburgh) certain to get No. 1 seeds. That leaves a second or even third Big East team, the possible Big 12 winner, Memphis and the Spartans fighting it out for the final two top seeds.
In MSU's favor is its nation-leading 12 wins against RPI top-50 teams.
"I think it's some what we do, some what other people don't do," Izzo said. "I think what we've done already deserves consideration for those top one or two seeds."
OHIO STATE: The team got some good news last week when star Evan Turner said he would return for his junior year, but the Buckeyes won't be getting back David Lighty this year. The junior captain broke his foot in December and had attempted to practice recently in hopes of helping in the postseason, but he decided it wasn't worth it to use up a year of eligibility with so few games remaining. He frankly wasn't going to be cleared for full participation anyways.
OSU's win over Northwestern on Sunday probably locked up an NCAA at-large bid for the Buckeyes, as it gave them 20 wins and a three-way tie for fourth in the Big Ten. But the Buckeyes, as the No. 5 Big Ten Tournament seed, have a very tough opener against Wisconsin on Friday in a matchup of the past two Big Ten tourney champs. Under Coach Thad Matta, OSU is just 3-7 against the Badgers. And a No. 5 seed has never played in the Big Ten final, nor has a No. 7. Every other seed has.
NORTHWESTERN: That Sunday loss to Ohio State seriously damaged the Wildcats' at-large hopes, but a win Thursday over Minnesota and then an upset of Michigan State might do it - and remember that Northwestern ended MSU's 28-game home winning streak this year. Northwestern, which started the Big Ten season 0-4 but has six wins over opponents in the top 50 of the RPI, has never reached the NCAA Tournament - every other member of a BCS conference has.
Big Ten Tournament schedule (all times Eastern)
No. 8 Minnesota vs. No. 9 Northwestern, Noon (Big Ten Network
No. 7 Michigan vs. No. 10 Iowa, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
No. 6 Penn State vs. No. 11 Indiana, 5 p.m. (ESPN2)
No. 1 Michigan State vs. 8/9 winner, Noon a.m. (ESPN)
No. 4 Wisconsin vs No. 5 Ohio State, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)
No. 2 Illinois vs. 7/10 winner, 6:30 p.m. (BTN)
No. 3 Purdue vs. 6/11 winner, 9 p.m. (BTN)
First semifinal, 1:40 p.m. (CBS)
Second semifinal, 4:05 p.m. (CBS)
Title game, 3:30 p.m. (CBS)