College Basketball: 2012 Big Ten Tournament Predictions and Betting Odds
by Robert Ferringo - 3/6/2012
Can Ohio State or Michigan State still work their way to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament? Can Michigan or Indiana continue their ascents and become a surprise winner of the Big Ten? Will Northwestern be able to play its way into the Big Dance for the first time ever?
There are a load of questions and interesting subplots following the Big Ten teams into Indiana for the Big Ten Tournament. This league has been, statistically, the best in the country for the entire season. And all eyes will be on this conference as they prepare to crown a champion because what happens here will have long-reaching ramifications for the rest of the college basketball landscape.
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The Big Ten Tournament begins Thursday, March 8, and is being held at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Here are Doc’s Sports 2012 Big Ten Tournament predictions with betting odds:
The Favorite: Ohio State (+175)
The Buckeyes earned a piece of the regular season title by virtue of their gritty win in Lansing on Sunday. The Buckeyes had relatively shaky February (5-3) with two home losses. But they have one of the best players in the country in Jared Sullinger and a team that is still playing for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Ohio State has won back-to-back Big Ten Tournament titles and they have played in the Championship Game three straight years (and five of six). I don’t think that this team is as good as they are considered nationally, but they are still able to put the best five on the floor
The Contender: Michigan State (+250)
The Spartans are a rough, rugged team that overcame a slow start to the year to get themselves into the Top 10 nationally. However, this hasn’t been their best venue. They are just 4-5 straight up in their last nine Big Ten Tournament games going back to 2007 and they haven’t won this championship since 2000. The Spartans have lost their last two games coming into this tournament. However, the No. 1 seed has won this conference four of the last five years so they gained a huge edge by virtue of their tiebreaker win over co-champs Michigan and Ohio State.
The Sleeper: Michigan (+300)
This Michigan team is lurking as a sleeper both regionally and nationally. John Beilein teams always seem to be in the mix this time of year and they thrive in the half court-oriented style that March basketball begets. The Wolverines are 6-1 in their last seven games and have beaten Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Indiana this year. The Wolverines are young, so a flameout isn’t outside the realm of possibility. But this team executes very well and is one of the best shooting teams in the country.
The Spoiler: Indiana (+1000)
I like the way that Purdue is playing coming into the tournament and you can never really sleep on Wisconsin. But if there is a team that I think could be a surprise winner this weekend it will be Indiana. They have an easy game in the first round (Penn State) and then they will square off with the Badgers in the quarterfinals. Wisconsin is never the same team outside of Madison and they actually haven’t won a game in the Big Ten Tournament since their championship in 2009. If IU can break past Wisconsin they would have a head of steam into the semifinals. Also, a team seeded No. 5 or lower has made the finals in four straight years.
No. 8 Iowa (+2.5) vs. No. 9 Illinois (11:30 p.m., Thursday, March 8)
Things are a mess in Illinois. It is generally accepted that anything outside of a run to the Big Ten Finals (and maybe even the Sweet 16) won’t be enough to save Bruce Weber’s job. Illinois is just 2-11 SU and ATS in their last 13 games and they are headed to the NIT. You have to wonder if this group has a run left in them or if they are just waiting for this year to end. Iowa may only be 16-15 but they are feisty and they have been a tough ‘W’ for most of the teams in this league. They lost in their only game against Illinois but this team still has motivation: they want to win to increase their shot at getting into the NIT.
No. 5 Indiana (-12.5) vs. No. 12 Penn State (2 p.m., Wednesday, March 8)
The Hoosiers revival has been one of the biggest stories in the conference this year. They have been a staple of the Top 25 this season and they are the only team in the nation to knock off Kentucky this year. Indiana has won four straight and is 7-1 in its last eight games so they are playing their best ball at the right time. Penn State stinks. They are just 2-9 in their last 11 games and they have been barely competitive in games away from Happy Valley this year. Tim Frazier tries to carry this team. But about the best thing that the Nittany Lions have going for them is that they aren’t the football team.
No. 7 Northwestern (-1) vs. No. 10 Minnesota (5:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 8)
Let me say this again for the cheap seats: NORTHWESTERN SUCKS. This team is terrible and even if they win this game they don’t deserve to be in the NCAA Tournament. They have one fluke win over Michigan State. That’s it. They have zero big nonconference wins (their best win was over Seton Hall) and they haven’t beaten a team in the Top 60 in nearly two months. This team is garbage. Northwestern split with the Gophers this year with each team scoring a blowout on its home court. Minnesota was a bubble team once upon a time. But they are just 1-6 in their last seven games. This Minnesota team has an excellent frontcourt and enters this game without any pressure. I think they will drive a stake through Northwestern’s heart and keep this feeble group out of the Big Dance yet again.
No. 6 Purdue (-8.5) vs. No. 11 Nebraska (8 p.m., Wednesday, March 8)
Nebraska is a team that I had some expectations for this year. But injuries to key players like Jorge Brian Diaz really sabotaged this group’s season and they were overwhelmed in their first year in the Big Ten. But they will bring four senior guards to this tournament and those four will fight tooth-and-nail to extend their careers. Purdue is a team that continues to improve and could be dangerous in the NCAA Tournament. They have gotten healthy and this is Robbie Hummel’s last go-round in the Big Ten. They have won five of seven and they beat Nebraska by 18 back on Feb. 22. But I think this Day One nightcap could be competitive and higher scoring than expected. And beware the No. 6 seed: this seed has the second-best overall record (28-13) in the tournament’s history, behind only the No. 1 seed.
2012 Big Ten Tournament Predictions:
I predicted on the radio last Saturday that I felt that Ohio State was going to beat Michigan State to earn a piece of the regular season title, but that the Spartans would turn around and claim the conference tournament crown. Unfortunately, I have to change that up and go with Ohio State. The tiebreakers for the three co-champs give Michigan State a statistical edge. But I think the Hoosiers will harness the energy of the home crowd this week and make a run to the finals. Ohio State has been the best team in this league all year. I think they are going to cut down the nets for the third straight year.
Robert Ferringo keeps proving himself to be one of the best college basketball handicappers in the nation. His college basketball picks have earned $100 bettors nearly $7,300 in the last two months. Another strong card is coming today and you can get his pick HERE for only $30.
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