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Big Ten Tournament Final + Open Thread

Illinois and Ohio State vie for the men’s title; meanwhile, Brenda Freese’s title harvester keeps reaping

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Ohio State
Coupla dudes right here
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

What Happened Yesterday?

Before we get to the men’s final, a quick note on what’s already settled: even against a game Iowa team, Maryland was in cruise control from the start in yesterday’s women’s final.

Paced by Chloe Bibby’s 21, the Terrapins had little trouble with Iowa despite another fantastic game from Hawkeye freshman phenom Caitlin Clark (21/8/7). Brenda Freese’s Terps poured in a WBTT record 104 points, all 5 starters landed in double digits, and they now hang their 6th conference tournament banner in their 7 years in the league. Riding a 13-game winning streak, all by double digits, the Maryland women have a good a chance at winning it all as any of the men’s teams in the Big Ten.

On the men’s side, Ohio State held on against a late rally from Michigan and made 42 combined points from Duane Washington and E.J. Liddell stand up. In the absence of Kyle Young, Hunter Dickinson had an efficient, sometimes-dominant day (21 on 9/14 shooting), but without Isaiah Livers, Michigan’s rotation was a bit too thin. Nonetheless, Mike Smith had a decent look at a 3 as times expired that would have pulled it out. One can’t help but think not letting your 7’ stud even touch the ball in the last possession is kind of a bad call, but after raising the regular season banner, Michigan gets an extra day off for their shortened rotation.

In the nightcap, Iowa was powerless to even slow down Kofi Cockburn inside, and the big man poured in 26 on 11/17 shooting. Iowa started the game shooting hot, but yielded 45 points in the first half and ultimately couldn’t sustain the pace from deep. With Cockburn running hot inside, Ayo Dosunmu headlining a foursome of guards as good as any in the country, and a 1-seed in the big dance all but assured, the Illini are flying high heading into the final.

For historical context, Ohio State is looking for their first conference title since 2013; Illinois, meanwhile, has not appeared in the BTT final since 2008, and has not won it since 2005.

#5 Ohio State vs #2 Illinois // CBS, 3:30 EST

Odds: Ohio State +5.5

Moneyline: +205 / -250

O/U: 150.5

Regular season results: Ohio State won 87-81, but back in January; in the more-recent rematch last weekend, Illinois prevailed 73-68.

In this author’s opinion: It would be a lot easier to pick this if Kyle Young’s status had been announced, but as of this moment, his availability after Friday’s concussion still seems doubtful (I mean, if he was held out yesterday, standard concussion protocol would rule him out for today too).

Because their late-season skid dropped them to the 5-seed, OSU had to play an extra game, and also got an OT session against Purdue, plus a nailbiter yesterday that resulted in big minutes for the starters. Illinois is red-hot, so I like them to handle that line. On paper, you would expect both teams to be a bit weary in a tournament final, so the under feels like the right play here.


I bet the house on:

This poll is closed

  • 58%
    Illinois -5.5
    (10 votes)
  • 29%
    OSU +5.5
    (5 votes)
  • 11%
    OSU Moneyline
    (2 votes)
17 votes total Vote Now