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Big Ten Basketball Tournament Betting Guide

Who’s the best money on in this year’s Big Ten Tournament? We look at the long shots with value and the safe plays for a nice return.

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Nebraska
How long are my odds?
Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Greetings, fellow degenerates. We head into Big Ten Tournament time. This is your unofficial handicapping guide where I break down the contenders from the pretenders. I love looking at things from a mix of stats, momentum, and who passes my eye test. Pros/Cons and KenPoms abound.

For those of you who don’t venture into gambling halls or frequent a vacant alley to see a bookie or take your business offshore, allow me to explain how odds work in Vegas and other “establishments”. Take Sparty, for example. The bookmakers have made their odds to win the BTT at +150. This means if you were to wager $100, your payout would be $250, making your profit $150.

Let’s do this. (Odds via South Point Sports Book)

Low Risk, Low Reward

Here are your favorites according to Vegas. Not surprisingly, they have the lowest odds. They’re the “safe” plays.

Michigan State Spartans (Odds: +175) – It’s not that surprising that Sparty holds the role of favorites. Outside of that three game losing streak and dropping a pair to IU along the way, they’ve been the most consistent. However, there’s still risk in this play (it is called gambling for a reason). Injuries have shortened up the bench and the turnover rate is higher than average according to the Kenpom rankings.

Michigan Wolverines (Odds: +225) – If you’re betting on John Beilein’s squad, it’s not for value. At +225, you could easily setup a rolling money line parlay and likely come out well ahead. Michigan is here in my opinion because they have one of the easier paths to the title game. The biggest risks I see with Michigan? They’re mortal away from home with 4 of their 5 losses coming away from Ann Arbor. They’re not great at getting second chance points and they have a low rate of getting to the free throw line.

Medium Risk, Low Reward

These are the guys who are still favorites but moreso that they have a double-bye than anything.

Purdue Boilermakers (Odds: +250) – Call me a doubter. I’m not buying into this team to make a run in Chicago. Why? First off, I don’t think there’s value in picking the Boilers. Secondly, there’s a slew of risks to be concerned about. They have one of the highest 3-point attempt rates in the land, they’re prone to fouling and giving up free throws, and there’s the Carsen “Heroball” factor when the other scorers aren’t hitting. Matt Painter has done a very good job getting the pieces to fall together after a rough non-con but there’s too many question marks if I’m laying money on this team.

Wisconsin Badgers (Odds: +600) – Wisconsin is the first team that piques my interest. Their defense is one of the most efficient in the country and that Ethan Happ guy ain’t too shabby. The problem? Their free throw shooting percentage is not good. They also lack depth which becomes key as you move towards Sunday.


Who’s giving you the better return?

This poll is closed

  • 47%
    (71 votes)
  • 52%
    (78 votes)
149 votes total Vote Now

Low Risk, Medium/High Reward

These are your teams that tend to be labeled as Dark Horses.

Maryland Terrapins (Odds: +1500) – Maryland certainly has the talent to make a run. They’ve shown they can compete with anyone in the conference. Two concerns that put a damper on Maryland’s party: They have a high turnover rate and Turgeon’s in-game decisions are questionable at times.

Indiana Hoosiers (Odds: +6000) – The Hoosiers are rounding into form at the right time. Four straight wins including Wisconsin and Michigan State have them playing with momentum. A couple of factors put them at a higher risk of making a deep run. First, they’re horrible from 3-point range. Second, they’re not good at the charity stripe. Finally, I’m still concerned about their depth. No team has won from a seed higher than an 8 has ever won. Indiana being in the 9-spot would be the highest.

Penn State Nittany Lions (Odds: +6000) – If I choose to take a flier, it might be Penn State. Granted, it won’t be easy to take down Minnesota and Purdue before going to the weekend, but they’ve been pesky enough to give teams fits down the stretch. They’re going to need to maintain their offense and their youth and lack of depth provide concern, but if there’s a high seed capable of it, it could be Pat Chambers’ crew.


Of the low risk, medium/high reward teams, I’m betting...

This poll is closed

  • 44%
    (78 votes)
  • 29%
    (53 votes)
  • 25%
    Penn State
    (46 votes)
177 votes total Vote Now

High Risk, High Reward

Go ahead; there might be some value within. Probably not. But there’s an option or two worth pondering.

Nebraska Cornhuskers (Odds: +8000) – Oh, Poor Nebraska, the injury bug has been too mean to you this season. We’re now hearing that they’re down to just 5 scholarship players available with Amir Harris being reported as injured.

Iowa Hawkeyes (Odds: +6000) – Losing four of your last five including a brutal collapse at Nebraska is not how you want to head into tournament time. You might be better off burning your money than laying it on the Hawkeyes.

Minnesota Golden Gophers (Odds: +6000) – Minnesota got their signature win over Purdue. They followed it up by laying an egg at Maryland. There’s just too many question marks on top of a matchup with a spirited Penn State squad to open the tourney. Should they get past a physical matchup, a revenge-minded Boilermaker squad awaits.


Pick your high-risk squad.

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    (11 votes)
  • 44%
    (59 votes)
  • 46%
    (62 votes)
132 votes total Vote Now

The Longshots

These guys ain’t winning, but hey, if you want to burn a dollar to try and win a hundo or three, here are the teams you can do it with.

Ohio State Buckeyes (Odds: +8000) – The Buckeyes metrics are decidedly average. Like, holy crap, almost everything is in the middle rank for all of D1.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights (Odds: +30000) – Might be pesky but their offense isn’t going to get it done.

Illinois Fighting Illini (Odds: +30000) – Young, no depth, shaky offense. Too many question marks to win 5 games in 5 days.

Northwestern Wildcats (Odds: +30000) – The Wildcats offense has become stagnant. Add in Vic Law’s injury and oof.


Which longshot would you bet?

This poll is closed

  • 32%
    Ohio State
    (50 votes)
  • 31%
    (48 votes)
  • 30%
    (46 votes)
  • 5%
    (9 votes)
153 votes total Vote Now

Boilerman’s Picks:

Favorites: Michigan +225

Value Pick: Maryland +1500

Longshot: Penn State +6000

Please play responsibly. Seriously, folks, we do this for fun. Let us know your picks in the comments!