by ASA, Inc.
With selection Sunday less than a week away, the Big 10 looks to have six teams locked up to join the field of 68. With so many good teams, it is sure to be a bloodbath for the Big 10 tournament championship.
BIG 10 Tournament Championship Odds:
Ohio State: +1000
Michigan State: +2500
Besides the top teams, Rutgers, Michigan, and Indiana are all on the bubble and need to have strong showings in the BIG 10 tourney in order to sneak in. Rutgers earned the double bye so they get a probable matchup with Iowa on Friday. Back in January, Rutgers won their only matchup with the Hawkeyes 48-46. This entire game was at a crawling pace that saw both teams shoot a combined 29% from the floor and went 56.5 points under the total (150.5). If Rutgers can just win one game in the conference tournament, they have to feel great about their chances to get into the NCAA field. Michigan and Indiana matchup as the 8 and 9 seed on Thursday in what could be an NCAA elimination game. The winner may determine who gets one of the last “at large” bids to the big dance.
With Wisconsin’s loss to Nebraska on Sunday, it allows a possible rematch of some recent games. Wisconsin could play Purdue in the semifinals and Illinois could play Iowa.
The Badgers just beat the Boilermakers for the 2nd time this season, so it does seem that Wisconsin is being undervalued by oddsmakers. Purdue has dominant big men in Edey and Williams, but lacks a true guard threat besides Jaden Ivey. Guard play wins championships and Ivey cannot do it alone. The Badgers have been snubbed by the analytics experts all season long because they have had a number of close games and won the vast majority of those games. Despite winning the Big 10 Title (tied with Illinois) they are rated as the 5th or 6th best team in the conference when it comes to the analytics people. That’s why they have solid +750 odds to win the Big 10 tourney. Solid value in our opinion if Johnny Davis plays which it sounds like he will.
Iowa has been blazing down the stretch and took Illinois to the wire a few days ago. Unfortunately +400 doesn’t return as much value. Neither does +370 for the Illini. Ohio State nearly won the tourney as a five seed last year, so look for E.J. Liddell and Malaki Branham at +1000 as a better option. They've beaten both first place teams this season (Wisconsin & Illinois) and the Buckeyes have as good a chance as any at a seemingly unpredictable time of year. We’d have to say OSU at +1000 is the best value in the field.