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Breaking down the Big Ten Tournament

Fourteen teams, one goal. Is this March?

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Purdue vs Michigan Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament is a celebration of all that is right and good with the world of college hoops. There are 14 teams, in a conference named for 10, playing games over five days in the City of B(1G)road Shoulders. It’s one more excuse to take a long lunch during work and head to a sports bar during March, and it’s also one more excuse to challenge Isaac Haas to a fight (Minnesota fans only).

The bracket looks set up for a decisive third game in the Michigan/Michigan State blood feud on Selection Sunday to find out who will be conference champion, and potentially a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

However, I’m sure there will be other excitement to talk about in the days and games leading up to Sunday’s title bout. Will Rutgers continue their impressive play and pull off an upset or two? Will Indiana get itself firmly into the NCAA Tournament after losing 12 of 13 games at one point in the season? Will Fran McCaffery even bother showing up to coach the Iowa Hawkeyes who are losers of five of their last six? Will you be offered money to attend the opening night tilt between Illinois and CHICAGO’S* BIG TEN** TEAM?

*Northwestern is in Evanston, Ill. which is not Chicago.

**Based on their 4-16 record against Big Ten teams this year, I’m assuming Northwestern is actually in the Horizon League.

Hey! At least the tournament isn’t in New York and played, like, two weeks ago like it was last year! Good work, Jim Delany. Now, let’s break down the competitors in this year’s conference tournament by likelihood they’ll be cutting down the nets on Sunday.

You and four friends have a better chance of winning one game, let alone five


The Wildcats of Northwestern made the NCAA Tournament two years ago for the first time in the history of this planet. Since then, they’ve gone 10-28 in conference (but 2-1 against their first round opponent, Illinois, lololol both of these teams BLOW) and have basically returned to laughingstock status. After beating the Illini on Jan. 6th to move to 10-5 on the season, the Wildcats proceeded to win three more games all season and finish in the basement of the conference. They ain’t winning shit.

I really don’t want to write about these teams and also they aren’t winning this tournament

Ohio State

I like to imagine that Rocket Raccoon is Mark Titus here.



Feisty underdogs that could make some noise, but like, not enough for a noise complaint

Penn State



Last year, a truly awful Rutgers team nearly beat conference tournament runner-up Purdue in the quarterfinals. This year, a truly not awful Rutgers team gets the chance to do the Cinderella thing again starting with a Nebraska Cornhuskers group that may only have six scholarship players available!

However, Rutgers will be without the services of forward Issa Thiam who has a current rap sheet that reads like a master criminal’s according to

A 6-foot-10 junior forward from Dakar, Senegal, Thiam was charged with simple assault, criminal mischief, false imprisonment, tampering with physical evidence, possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose, theft by unlawful taking, and terroristic threats, according to a complaint filed with the Piscataway Township Municipal Court on Friday. All are disorderly, fourth- or third-degree charges.

“Theft by unlawful taking” leads me to believe there are scenarios where one could take something lawfully, and I’m wondering if that could be applied to Bruno Fernando’s sneakers before Maryland’s matchup against the Nebraska/Rutgers winner.

Penn State is 7-3 in their last 10 games, including wins over Michigan and Maryland and are favored to beat Minnesota on KenPom. The Lions are celebrating every victory this year and I, for one, love it.

Indiana is truly The Undertaker of the Big Ten basketball season. The Hoosiers were dead. Dead and buried and then ... they weren’t. They have now won their last four games, including over Wisconsin and Michigan State (for the season sweep, natch), and are coming into the conference tournament full of piss, vinegar and banners.

I honestly would not want to play ANY of these teams, and now that I’ve said this I assume they will all lose their first game this week.

For sure getting embarrassed regardless of when they lose



The Gophers probably secured an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament with their win over Purdue last week, but if they take an L against PSU, I’d imagine there will be a lot of clenched butts on Selection Sunday in Dinkytown.

At least they will always have the Hawkeyes to laugh at. Iowa is on a four-game losing streak (five out of their last six, too) and don’t look interested at all in winning another basketball game this season. They should probably take a lesson from their championship women’s team.

Just hoping nobody gets hurt so they can make some noise in the NCAA Tournament




These three teams all COULD win the Big Ten Tournament, but I just don’t see it happening. Purdue, while sharing a conference-record 24th title, seems likely to trip up in Chicago and was also 1-2 against the Michigan schools this year with both losses coming on the road.

Also, the Hammer and Rails endless Twitter fight with Crimson Quarry (see two tweets ago) is amazingly petty, personal and great for the Internet.

The Terps ended up with the five seed after the Badgers scraped by Ohio State, and the extra game they’ll have to play leads me to believe that they won’t be making too much noise in the conference tournament. There is this important stat to consider, however.

How many ACC Championships has Zion Williamson won though? Probably more than every ACC team put together.

The Badgers don’t shoot free throws well and usually only play one half of basketball offensively. That combination usually doesn’t lead to success in a single elimination tournament. They do play excellent defense and have senior leadership, which is a combination that usually does lead to success in a single elimination tournament, so your guess as to what happens with them this week is as good, nay better, than mine.

Hopefully that Rutgers player didn’t also do this.

Will get a nice view of the champions celebrating


There is a reason you aren’t winning the Big Ten this year, Michigan, and it is because you deal in reasonable takes.

This is the Internet. If you can’t be unreasonable here, where can you be?

Big Ten Conference Tournament Champion presented by RO*TEL and SoFi and The New York TV Market

Michigan State

The Spartans are the best team in the conference without Nick Ward and, well, Ward is going to be available for them once they tip-off.

College is the best.

Here’s to a fun week full of buzzer beaters and Joe Lunardi live look-ins!