The Big Ten Tournament taking place at the famed United Center in Chicago will be one of the best conference tournaments to watch in the NCAA with multiple teams looking to solidify their place in March Madness.
This season, Purdue rose to the top of the conference, but there are a long list of teams capable of knocking them off of their current throne. With so much at stake for multiple teams, the middle range of our rankings will be giving it their all to true to punch a ticket into March Madness. Right now, ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi currently has an incredible ten Big Ten teams making the Big Dance.
Let’s take a look at our rankings of the teams most likely to bring home the Big Ten Conference Tournament title.
Big Ten Conference Rankings
Purdue Boilermakers (+145)
The Purdue Boilermakers are objectively one of the top-5 teams in the country. They have been ranked No. 1 for multiple weeks of the season and while they currently sit as just the No. 5 team, they still have a case for being much higher. Purdue is such a well-rounded team and ran away with the top spot in the conference by a wide margin. It is their tournament to lose in our opinion, but there are plenty of challengers that match up well enough to knock them off.
Maryland Terrapins (+700)
Considering that there were seven teams who finished 11-8 during conference play, it becomes extremely difficult to rank them. For the second spot, though, we feel like the Maryland Terrapins have done more than enough to earn their ranking. Their resume is quite impressive and includes a 14-point victory over Purdue just two weeks ago.
Michigan State has a great program and is quite consistent. The issue with the Spartans, though, is that they have collected many of their wins against the bottom-end of the conference and have been blown out by teams above them. Still, their efficiency stats are just too difficult for us to ignore. They check in at 37th and 35th for adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency, respectively. Keep an eye on the Spartans.
Indiana Hoosiers (+600)
Indiana was one of the biggest challenges for the top end of the conference all season long and they can be claimed as high as second in the rankings. As we mentioned, it is truly difficult to rank all the teams in the middle of the conference in order. However, the Hoosiers are the only team in the entire conference to have beaten Purdue twice, once at home and once on the road. They could be the team with the best chance of knocking the Boilermakers off, specifically, even though we think they could struggle against some of the other teams.
Iowa Hawkeyes (+1800)
Iowa is truly interesting and can be viewed as something of an anomaly in college basketball. They play such an up-tempo style that allows a ton of points on the defensive end, but can score in bunches. In fact, their offense ranked as the 4th-best team in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency during the season. They recently put together a road win by 22 points over Indiana which makes them an even more intriguing option for conference tournament betting.
Illinois Fighting Illini (+1300)
Illinois plays a brand of basketball that matches up extremely well against most of the Big Ten. Their defense is their calling card and they have shown many times that they are capable of hanging tough with the up-tempo offenses around the conference. The great thing about Illinois is that even in their losses against the top teams like Purdue, they have been extremely close losses, often within one possession. They are certainly a team to look for in the betting market for Big Ten conference tournament champion. The Illini will start with a game against Penn State on Thursday. Illinois lost as a -3.5 road favorite in Happy Valley in February and should be favored again on Thursday.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights (+3000)
Rutgers is one of the many teams that fell above .500 during conference play at 10-9 and had an up and down type of season. We have them ranked higher than consensus for a variety of reasons. The primary one, though, is that their defense is far and away the best in the conference. In terms of adjusted defensive efficiency, they ranked 4th in the nation. That’s a very good mark for a team that fell outside of the top end of the conference standings. They are our top pick for dark horses to win the tournament and claim a spot in March Madness.
Michigan Wolverines (+1800)
Michigan seems to get it done every year and surprises. While this season was the story of the Purdue Boilermakers, Michigan had quite a season themselves at 11-8, finishing strong outside of a pair of recent losses. They have looked strong against mediocre competition and have always hung tough in their losses. Per usual, they are a team to watch out for as they try to cement their spot in the next stage of the NCAA basketball season.
Penn State Nittany Lions (+2500)
Penn State is a prime example of how important a defensive-minded team can be in college basketball. Their offense is absolutely excellent and is similar to that of a ranked team. However, their defense is one of the worst in the Big Ten and will likely hold them back tremendously from being able to make any kind of real noise in the conference tournament. Even at their price, we advise staying away as they likely do not have the defensive capability to stop the top teams we have ranked above.
Northwestern Wildcats (+1000)
Northwestern is another one of our favorite sleepers to win the Big Ten tournament. Built similarly to Rutgers with a defensive-minded team, they could find success if they are able to dictate the pace of play against some of the offensive-oriented teams. They are adequately priced in betting markets we feel, but that does not mean there is not any kind of value here. With everyone leaning on Purdue, Northwestern could be the team getting the most overlooked in the Big Ten.
Ohio State Buckeyes (+7500)
Ohio State has been one of the biggest programs for college basketball in their existence, but this has truly been a dreadful year. They finished conference play with just five wins, firmly outside of even the middle range of teams in the Big Ten. They are a non-factor in the tournament for us and do not see them being worthy of even a longshot odds pick.
Wisconsin Badgers (+5000)
This ranking might be a little unfair to Wisconsin considering they are behind a team we just called ‘dreadful’. However, Wisconsin’s roster is constructed in such a way that they will struggle mightily to make any noise. Their defense is pretty solid overall, but the offense is just so bad that they should never be in games when they matter most against the Purdue and Maryland tier of teams. It’s a simple case of the Badgers being able to stop the offense being produced against themselves, but not being able to capitalize on it at the other end.
Nebraska Cornhuskers (+25000)
Nebraska is basically a worse version of Wisconsin. The defense is good, but still pales in comparison to most of the Big Ten and their offense is arguably the worst in the conference, ranking 160th in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency. We view them as just another non-factor in this tournament with little to no Cinderella story potential.
Minnesota Golden Gophers (+50000)
Minnesota is not only the worst team in the Big Ten by far, but they are also one of the worst teams in the entire country. It is tough to say considering how difficult their conference is, but at the same time, adjusted efficiency statistics account for their opponent strength. They still ranked as the 251st team in adjusted offensive efficiency and 181st defensively. It would be a miracle if Minnesota pulled out even one win in the tournament.