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Big Ten Tournament Preview, Predictions: Anybody’s game?

We put our heads together and decide who’s winning the Big Ten Tournament, from the Wednesday games through Sunday afternoon!

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Michigan vs Michigan State David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Holy moly, it’s time for the 2020 Big Ten Tournament.

The teams, fans, and bands of the Big Ten descend on Indianapolis for five days of basketball in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, with the bottom four tipping off tomorrow evening and blossoming Thursday into a beautiful spread of bad good mediocre, maybe? basketball.

We’ve got your coverage here, along with Big Ten bracketology and a BTT Pick’em challenge—and recaps of the weekend’s hoops, if you want to relive wisconsin locking up a 1-seed in the BTT for some sick reason—elsewhere on Off Tackle Empire! Check it out:

The Bracket


All times, as always, CT. All games at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN. But you knew all that.

Wednesday, March 11

[12] Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. [13] Northwestern Wildcats

5pm | BTN | Minn -8 | O/U 137

WhiteSpeedReceiver: I mean, just like the rest of the year there’s no telling what Minnesota could do. A path to the finals of Northwestern-Iowa-Illinois-wisconsin features a team the Gophers beat with some difficulty, a team we would have beat if we could hit FTs, Illinois, and a team we easily beat once and should have beat on the road. There’s also a chance that we could lose any of them (yes, even to Northwestern) and end the season with a whimper. My best guess right now is that we run out of gas against Illinois, and then we spend the offseason arguing amongst ourselves about the future of Richard Pitino.

I am hoping we get a real look at the best player in the Big Ten facing off with Luka Garza without the refs getting involved too much like they did at Williams Arena.

MNWildcat: As for Northwestern, even calling it house money feels trite at this point. Daniel Oturu is going to boss the ‘Cats around down in the post, and we basically have to hope that the Minnesota meltdown starts in R1 instead of R3 this time around.

Here’s hoping Miller Kopp and Pete Nance can put together some of the flashes they’ve shown the last couple weeks and that Pat Spencer (who, we’ve learned, is the only player in Northwestern history besides the venerable Pat Baldwin to average the coveted stats of 10 ppg, 4 rpg, and 3.5 apg) is here for tourney time.

Which he notably was when—and you might not have heard this before!—he played college lacrosse for Dr. Loyola.



This poll is closed

  • 80%
    Minnesota with the trifecta
    (219 votes)
  • 19%
    Northwestern decides to be competent
    (52 votes)
271 votes total Vote Now

[11] Indiana Hoosiers vs. [14] Nebraska Cornhuskers

7:25ish | BTN | Indiana -14 | O/U 144

Candystripes: Indiana, when good, has historically been utter garbage at the BTT.

Spoilers: Indiana has not been really good for long stretches of the year. It seems likely that the Hoosiers will advance one round, but this would also be the perfect time for an absolute egg to be laid on the Bankers Life Fieldhouse court and Archie Miller’s favorite bracketologist to drop the Hoosiers out of the field as a result.

In other words, as with most of the rest of this year, who knows what the hell Indiana is going to do?

Jesse Collins: Know what? I’ll go with us winning a game because why the hell not. This season has sucked but with no depth, arguably not a ton of talent, and an off-season of questions, let’s win one.

Now we’ll lose by 25 in which we were close for 25 minutes or so.

BigRedTwice: Um... not a lot to say here. Nebraska is very likely to lose. Unless there’s any lingering magic from last year’s improbable Nebrasketball run...

Never forget.


Better gif:

This poll is closed

  • 59%
    Crean pants
    (140 votes)
  • 40%
    Miles tumble
    (97 votes)
237 votes total Vote Now



This poll is closed

  • 88%
    #11 Indiana
    (243 votes)
  • 11%
    #14 Nebraska
    (32 votes)
275 votes total Vote Now

Thursday, March 12

[8] Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. [9] Michigan Wolverines

11am | BTN

ZuzuRU: My first instinct to seeing Rutgers get Michigan to start the tourney was a more colorful and Jersey version of “darn.” But honestly beating a team THREE times in one season? Nah. Rutgers has got this.

I’m picking Rutgers because homerism, but also because we have been on the upswing for the last week. Also, beating Michigan will shut up the last few Rutgers in the NCAA deniers.



This poll is closed

  • 50%
    #8 Rutgers
    (163 votes)
  • 49%
    #9 Michigan
    (161 votes)
324 votes total Vote Now

[5] Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Winner of Minnesota/Northwestern

1:25ish | BTN

Stewmonkey13: Iowa hasn’t played on the Saturday of the BTT since before Fran. The mostly awful results in the conference tourney have been a large portion of the late meltdowns of seasons past, bowing out on Thursday more than our share.

I think Iowa manages to get to Saturday this year, though. Neither the gophers or jNW should be able to put up too much trouble. And wisconsin is terrible.

[7] Ohio State Buckeyes vs. [10] Purdue Boilermakers

5:30pm | BTN

Boilerman31: My expectations are zero at this point. Boilers have to win out to make the NCAA. Assuming they play like Home Purdue, they might beat Ohio State. Only to have a date with Sparty with Izzo in March Mode.

Welp, at least Purdue should get to host a game or two in the NIT.



This poll is closed

  • 31%
    [49] Purdue
    (84 votes)
  • 68%
    [20] Ohio State
    (180 votes)
264 votes total Vote Now

[6] Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Winner of Indiana/Nebraska

7:55ish | BTN

Aaron Yorke: Sure can’t feel good about Penn State’s chances in Indianapolis. This team is one shot away from being on a six-game losing streak.

Losing games to Iowa on the road and to Michigan State at home wasn’t too concerning, but the defeat at Northwestern makes me wonder if Penn State even has a pulse. You have to go back to February 23 to find a game in which the Lions just showed up in the second half. In that one, they rallied from behind in Bloomington and still lost.

Since then, there have been major collapses against Rutgers and Michigan State. I’m optimistic about Penn State getting its act together and beating its Thursday opponent, but I don’t think it will beat Maryland in the quarterfinals.

Friday, March 13

[1] Wisconsin Badgers vs. Winner of Rutgers/Michigan

11am | BTN

beezer07: Wisconsin has won 8 games in a row, and for nearly all of them I’ve been surprised they won. I’m not sure when I’ll believe in them (unless it’s against Indiana), but I have zero expectations of them getting by Rutgers/Michigan.

MC Clap: YOUR 1 seed Wisconsin Badgers get a well-deserved rest before starting this tournament that quite frankly is not interesting unless 1) you’re a bubble team that needs some lovin’, b) you’re playing a team you absolutely hate, or 3) your team is so bad you literally need this to keep playing.

[4] Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Winner of Iowa/Minnesota/Northwestern

1:25ish | BTN

Thump: Can the Illini win three conference games in a row? I think so, but this is an unusually deep field. The good news is that Illinois is 12-3 against teams seeded below them, bad news is they’re 1-4 against the higher seeded teams.

[2] Michigan State Spartans vs. Winner of Ohio State/Purdue

5:30pm | BTN

Maybe Andrew will give us his thoughts when he gets out of trial.

...we’re pretty sure he’s the lawyer.

[3] Maryland Terrapins vs. Winner of Penn State/Indiana/Nebraska

7:55ish | BTN

BrianB2: Maryland will likely play Indiana or Penn State in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. I don’t want to play Indiana, because, you know, the ole “it’s tough to beat a team three times in a season” thing, and the fact that we shouldn’t have beat them the second go-round anyway. I don’t want to play Penn State, well, because we never beat them. Maryland might win one game in this tournament, but they won’t win two.

So who wins?

We’ve got our picks below! Remember to head over to the Official OTE Pick’em and let us know your thoughts, too!

Aaron Yorke

Besides the Penn State games, I’m looking forward to seeing a couple of rematches from Sunday in the quarterfinals. If the chalk holds up, we’ll see Ohio State take on Michigan State and Iowa play Illinois.

The semifinals should be fun with Wisconsin (if it makes it that far) having to slow down a great offensive team like Iowa or Illinois. In the bottom half, either Penn State or Maryland could be looking for revenge against MSU after the Spartans recently beat both on the road.


Oh right, picks. I’m thinking Maryland over Illinois in the final.

BrianB2: [/looking at spreadsheet] What three idiots picked Maryland to win it all.

beez: They’re going to!

BrianB2: Even Gary couldn’t win conference tournaments, Maryland has one conference tournament title in my life time (literally). After further research, they have only reached the finals twice in my life time.


Sparty over ‘Sconnie.


Michigan State wins it all, because of course they do.

MC ClapYoHandz

Games that look particularly good at some point are Michigan-Rutgers, Penn State-Maryland, and Illinois-Iowa. I’ll take Michigan State over Iowa in the final. As long as my team doesn’t get hurt I’m happy.


I’ve gotta think whoever comes out of that bottom side of the bracket is going to take the whole damn thing.

Of course there’s all the uncertainty throughout the conference (and, as Aaron correctly notes, some excellent rematches in MSU-OSU and Iowa-Illinois), and I think depth is a real concern this year for some teams who might struggle on the second leg of a back-to-back. That’s why I like the winner of wisconsin-Michigan to make the final, and on the bottom side of the bracket...oh jeez. Do I have to choose?

...apparently yes, I do. Give me Michigan State.


I think any of the top 7 seeds could win it, but Ohio State has the best chance of those teams that don’t have double byes. I’m not picking Illinois to win it all since they’d have to beat MSU or Maryland to do it, so I think I’ll take the Spartans.

The sadist in me is curious about Indiana vs Nebraska. Archie Miller is showing a lot of signs of being on the brink...


WhiteSpeedReceiver: Sparty. They’ve got the best combination of players and coaching.

beez: Lol what a nerd, thinking players and coaching matter.

WSR: Izzo’s smart enough to tell his guys to make free throws.

beez: The refs are going to decide whether FTs matter

WSR: I didn’t realize you were an Indiana fan.

beez: You spelled Purdue Maryland Iowa Minnesota when the play Wisconsin Michigan State before the game’s even started wrong. I’m leaving the typo.

Think we’re wrong? (We probably are.) Want to prove that you’re better than us? (You’re not.) Hit up the Official OTE Big Ten Tournament Pick’em Challenge and give us your best shot! Check back here tomorrow for your gamethread and picks.


Who wins the Big Ten Tournament?

This poll is closed

  • 16%
    #1 wisconsin
    (62 votes)
  • 32%
    #2 Michigan State
    (124 votes)
  • 14%
    #3 Maryland
    (57 votes)
  • 10%
    #4 Illinois
    (42 votes)
  • 6%
    #5 Iowa
    (25 votes)
  • 2%
    #6 Penn State
    (11 votes)
  • 0%
    #7 Ohio State
    (2 votes)
  • 1%
    #8 Michigan
    (5 votes)
  • 6%
    #9 Rutgers
    (24 votes)
  • 2%
    #10 Ohio State
    (8 votes)
  • 5%
    Someone else
    (22 votes)
382 votes total Vote Now