- Michigan State are favorites to win the Big Ten tournament at +225
- The Big Ten’s depth has been impressive, and a majority of teams in the conference have a realistic shot of winning the tournament.
- Wisconsin, Maryland and Michigan State all tied for the regular-season conference title.
- Purdue, Ohio State, Michigan and Iowa are all potentially great value sleeper picks.
- Betting on the Big Ten Tournament is a high-risk, high-reward proposition.
INDIANAPOLIS – The first round of the 2020 Big Ten basketball tournament tips off tonight, and oddsmakers give the Michigan State Spartans the best odds to win after their impressive late-season surge.
Despite a midseason lull, the Spartans captured a share of the Big 10 regular-season title after winning their last five regular-season games, earning the second seed in the conference tournament.
The two teams Michigan State tied with, the Wisconsin Badgers and the Maryland Terrapins, USA online sportsbooks give them the second and third-best odds, respectively, to win the tournament. All three teams earned a double-bye in the conference tournament and won’t have to play until Friday, March 13.
The Big Ten tournament tips off at 6 p.m. EST tonight, with a first-round matchup between the Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Northwestern Wildcats.
2020 Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament Odds:
- Michigan State +225
- Wisconsin +450
- Maryland +500
- Illinois +775
- Michigan +1100
- Ohio State +1200
- Iowa +1300
- Penn State +1300
- Rutgers +2200
- Minnesota +2800
- Purdue +3500
- Indiana +4500
- Nebraska +25000
- Northwestern +30000
Potential Big Ten Tournament Sleeper Picks
Besides Michigan State and Maryland, the conference’s most consistent team, Big Ten teams struggled to separate themselves from the pack throughout 2020. The conference proved to be the deepest and most talented in the country, and that depth will likely be rewarded with 10 or more March Madness bids. It should also translate to a wide-open, fun-to-watch conference tournament.
The ultimate Big Ten sleeper pick is probably Purdue, America’s favorite basketball enigma. The Boilermakers’ record currently stands at an ugly 16-15, but their per-possession efficiency and murderous schedule have made them advanced ratings darlings.
In Ken Pomeroy’s rankings, Purdue is rated as the 24th best team in the country, while in the NCAA’s NET rankings, Purdue is rated as the 33rd best team. Additionally, Purdue managed to earn an all-important first-round bye by securing the tenth seed, which lifts their conference title chances from “nonexistent” to “unlikely”.
Michigan and Ohio State are intriguing options as well. Both vaulted into the top five of the polls in November after impressive (or seemingly impressive) nonconference victories—Michigan over North Carolina and Gonzaga, Ohio State over North Carolina and Kentucky.
Both proceeded to crash back to Earth during conference play and finish at or around .500 against the rest of the Big Ten.
Still, both teams have the top-level talent to go on a run, especially given the vulnerability of Michigan State, Wisconsin and Maryland.
Another solid option is Iowa. The Hawkeyes have been undeniably inefficient all year long, but they boast one of the nation’s best players in junior center Luke Garza, who is averaging 24 points and 10 rebounds per game.
In the postseason, coaches tend to shorten their rotations and give more minutes to their best players. More Garza can only be a good thing for Iowa.
There is potential value and potential disappointment all over the board for fans looking to bet on the Big Ten tournament, because more than any other conference this season, there are no sure things in the Big Ten.
Big Ten Tournament Schedule (all times are Eastern)
First Round — Wednesday, March 11
- Game 1: (12) Minnesota vs. (13) Northwestern at 6 p.m. on the Big Ten Network
- Game 2: (11) Indiana vs. (14) Nebraska, 25 minutes after Game 1 concludes, on the Big Ten Network
Second Round — Thursday, March 12
- Game 3: (8) Rutgers vs. (9) Michigan at 12 p.m. on the Big Ten Network
- Game 4: (5) Iowa vs. Game 1 winner, 25 minutes after Game 3 concludes, on the Big Ten Network
- Game 5: (7) Ohio State vs. (10) Purdue at 6:30 p.m. on the Big Ten Network
- Game 6: (6) Penn State vs. Game 2 winner, 25 minutes after Game 5 concludes on Big Ten Network
Quarterfinals — Friday, March 13
- Game 7: (1) Wisconsin vs. Game 3 winner at 12 p.m. on the Big Ten Network
- Game 8 : (4) Illinois vs. Game 4 winner, 25 minutes after Game 7 concludes, on the Big Ten Network
- Game 9: (2) Michigan State vs. Game 5 winner at 6:30 p.m. on the Big Ten Network
- Game 10: (3) Maryland vs. Game 6 winner, 25 minutes after Game 9 concludes, on the Big Ten Network
Semifinals — Saturday, March 14
- Game 11: Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner at 1 p.m. on CBS
- Game 12: Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner, 25 minutes after Game 11 concludes, on CBS
Championship — Sunday, March 15
- Game 13: Game 11 winner vs. Game 12 winner at 3:30 p.m. on CBS