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2024 Big Ten Tournament Prediction

Zach Edey, Purdue

First Round

13 Rutgers Scarlet Knights over

12 Maryland Terrapins

The Pick: It's been a frustrating winter for both of these East Coast programs, but as they look ahead to 2024-25, a win or two in the Big Ten Tournament could be the springboard they need. Rutgers feels like the safer pick for me, even away from Piscataway. Although they haven't been able to climb out of the bottom of the league standings, the Scarlet Knights have seemed to find something over the last month-and-half, and their defense smothers a Terrapin offense that has been nonexistent beyond Jahmir Young.

11 Penn State Nittany Lions over

14 Michigan Wolverines

The Pick: Could this be Juwan Howard's final game as Michigan head coach? I'm still under the impression of the one-time "Fab Five" legend gets at least one more year at the helm, but there's little reason to believe the Wolverines are going to find their groove after a long regular season. Penn State's a strong 11-seed, and they should move on to at least the Thursday set of games.

Second Round

8 Michigan State Spartans over

9 Minnesota Golden Gophers

The Pick: No surprises, the 8-9 matchup feels like a coin flip. A loss to Indiana in their final regular season game wasn't a super encouraging way to head into the postseason for Michigan State, but the program still owns Minnesota traditionally, and the Gophers have cooled as of late. More importantly, how could I willingly pick against Tom Izzo in the month of March?

13 Rutgers Scarlet Knights over 

5 Wisconsin Badgers

The Pick: It seems like ages ago that Wisconsin was 5-0 in the Big Ten and in prime position to take a run at the league title. The last two months have not been kind to the Badgers, and this isn't a great matchup for them - the two split the season series, which included a 22-point Rutgers victory in mid-February.

7 Iowa Hawkeyes over

10 Ohio State Buckeyes

The Pick: Since firing Chris Holtmann, Ohio State has been a on tear, winning five of six under interim head man Jake Diebler. Can they continue the magic in Minneapolis? It will be a tough matchup for them getting an Iowa team firmly on the bubble, a program that always seems to find another gear when it comes to Big Ten Tournament time.

11 Penn State Nittany Lions over

6 Indiana Hoosiers

The Pick: Credit where credit is due, Indiana could have mailed in the final stretch of the season when it became clear their NCAA Tournament hopes were shot, but they've remained playing hard under Mike Woodson. With that being said, I like the Nittany Lions to steal a win - although the Hoosiers retain an edge down low, Penn State's guards can propel them to victory.


1 Purdue Boilermakers over 

8 Michigan State Spartans

The Pick: All eyes will be on Purdue this March to see how they recover from last year's shocking defeat at the hands of Fairleigh Dickinson, but the league tournament provides a great tune-up opportunity. They're the better team top-to-bottom against Michigan State, coming out on top in a hard-fought game during their lone regular season contest.

4 Northwestern Wildcats over 

13 Rutgers Scarlet Knights

The Pick: No "Cinderella" run from Rutgers, at least not this season. Boo Buie is not going to bow out in the first game after a double-bye in his final conference tournament, and he should help carry the Wildcats to the finish line here.

2 Illinois Fighting Illini over

7 Iowa Hawkeyes

The Pick: The way these two programs play, expect the scoreboard operators to be busy Thursday night. Neither team is going to slow things down, but the Illini are in better position to outlast the Hawkeyes. They just have so many different ways to beat you and with a deeper roster, they should have fresher legs when it matters most.

3 Nebraska Cornhuskers over 

11 Penn State Nittany Lions

The Pick: It's still remarkable to see Nebraska as the three seed in the conference and a recipient of the double-bye, but I don't think anybody around the program is satisfied just yet. They should be ready to go, and considering that they aren't set to play their third game in as many days (like Penn State in this scenario), they're the smarter selection.


1 Purdue Boilermakers over

4 Northwestern Wildcats

The Pick: The last time these two met, Purdue overcame Northwestern in an overtime thriller, and this should be another hard-fought contest as both teams vie for seeding in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats should have plenty in the tank to give the Boilermakers fits, but they simply don't have an effective counter to Zach Edey down low.

2 Illinois Fighting Illini over 

3 Nebraska Cornhuskers

The Pick: Illinois squeaked out a victory over Nebraska in their lone meeting this winter, and I suspect this semifinal to also be a tight one. Keisei Tominaga dropped 31 points in that loss and is always a wild card, but I'm not sure he can carry the 'Huskers to victory against an Illinois team with weapons at just about every spot.

Big Ten Championship Game

2 Illinois Fighting Illini over

1 Purdue Boilermakers

The Pick: An awfully chalky Championship Game prediction perhaps, but Purdue and Illinois have been the best two teams in the conference all season and it's only fitting they meet one final time with the league tournament title on the line. Purdue won both of the regular season games, but by just 11 combined points, and I think Brad Underwood is a good enough coach that he will have made the necessary adjustments. If the Illini can do just enough to slow down Edey, their outside shooting and superior guard play should help them come out on top.

Big Ten Champion: 2 Illinois Fighting Illini

After two down seasons to begin the Brad Underwood era, Illinois has been a model of consistency in the Big Ten, winning 20 or more games each of the last five years. Yet, for all that success, a long NCAA Tournament has eluded Underwood and the Illini, at least up until now. I think this is the year that changes, with a roster built to win in March. There's the explosive leading scorer (Terrance Shannon Jr.), the sharpshooting wing who can take over when needed (Marcus Domask), a pair of versatile two-way bigs (Coleman Hawkins & Quincy Guerrier), and experience and depth throughout. I genuinely think this team has a Final Four ceiling, and the Big Ten Tournament could be just what they need to get it all rolling. 

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