Inside the Hall’s 2017 Big Ten tournament preview

  • 03/06/2017 10:44 am in

We’ll have our traditional what to expect series previewing Iowa later in the week, but first up, Inside the Hall previews the Big Ten Tournament as a whole. The event tips off on Wednesday afternoon:

2017 Big Ten Tournament bracket
Location: Washington, D.C. (Verizon Center)
Dates: March 8-12
Teams with a bye to Thursday: Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana, Iowa, Northwestern
Teams with a double bye to Friday: Purdue, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Maryland
Television: BTN, ESPN, ESPN2, CBS

Most friendly path to Sunday: Wisconsin. The Badgers have struggled in recent weeks, but are coming off an impressive 66-49 beatdown of Minnesota on Sunday. Looking at the four teams with a double bye, it’s hard not to look at Wisconsin’s Friday matchup as the most favorable. Purdue is going to get Michigan or Illinois. The Wolverines have been red hot as of late and if Illinois advances, it will be desperate for a win. Minnesota’s Friday opponent will likely be Michigan State. And Tom Izzo typically owns the Big Ten tournament. Maryland, the No. 3 seed, will play Rutgers, Northwestern or Ohio State on Friday. Wisconsin, meanwhile, gets Indiana or Iowa on Friday. Wisconsin already beat the Hoosiers twice and just lost to Iowa, which would give the Badgers extra motivation in a rematch. Wisconsin is also the most experienced team in the event with Zak Showalter, Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig playing in their fourth Big Ten tournament.

Most intriguing Thursday matchups: Michigan-Illinois and Iowa-Indiana. Michigan has already punched its NCAA tournament ticket, but Illinois might be able to get back into the conversation with a win over the Wolverines. That would also earn the Illini a shot at Purdue on Friday. Win that and Malcolm Hill might see the NCAA tournament for the first time. In the bottom half of the bracket, it might be time to ask this question: Is Iowa on the bubble? The Hawkeyes are 18-13 and finished 10-8 in the Big Ten, but are currently just 72nd in the RPI. A win over Indiana may not move the needle much, but if the Hawkeyes can get to Saturday, their chances to dance improve substantially.

Team with the most to prove: Maryland. The Terps will be playing in a friendly environment near their campus, but finished just 4-5 over their last nine conference games. Maryland is obviously a lock for the tournament, but their recent slide raises a fair question: How good is this team? Maryland didn’t beat Purdue or Wisconsin this season and its win over Michigan in January came before the Wolverines figured things out. That said, the Terps won seven Big Ten road games, an impressive feat that suggests this group is fully capable of winning games in March.

Players to keep an eye on:

· Caleb Swanigan, Purdue: The Big Ten’s best player can make another statement heading into the NCAA tournament by putting the Boilermakers on his back and winning the Big Ten tournament. Purdue already won the outright regular season conference crown in large part because of Swanigan, who finished the regular season with 25 double-doubles in 31 games.

· Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin: Ethan Happ is Wisconsin’s best player, but Hayes is the key for the Badgers advancing in tournament play. His inconsistent play was a major reason for Wisconsin’s struggles down the stretch. For the Badgers to advance in March, Hayes needs to focus on getting to the foul line and not forcing shots, which has been an issue at times.

· Peter Jok, Iowa: There are very few players who can go out and score 35, but Jok is one of them. In fact, he did it twice this season with 35 against Indiana in late February and 42 against Memphis earlier in the season. Jok had five games with 30 or more this season. He’s an explosive scorer and if Iowa is going to sneak into the NCAA tournament, Jok will be the catalyst.

· Miles Bridges, Michigan State: It’s fair to say Bridges is the most explosive player in the conference. Enjoy him while you can, Big Ten fans, as he looks destined for the 2017 NBA draft. Bridges is a special talent capable of leading the Spartans on a run through the Big Ten tournament.

· Derrick Walton Jr., Michigan: As great as Swanigan was, Walton Jr. may have been the Big Ten’s best player the last couple weeks of the season. He finished with the third best offensive rating in Big Ten play and is the reason why the Wolverines are peaking at the right time.

Bids on the line: Purdue, Wisconsin, Maryland, Minnesota and Northwestern are locks to make the tournament. Michigan is in great shape following Sunday’s dismantling of Nebraska on Sunday. Michigan State also looks like it will make the tournament. The two bubble teams to watch are Illinois and Iowa. Both teams probably need two wins to get in. Illinois would need to beat Michigan and Purdue and Iowa is looking at Indiana on Thursday and Wisconsin on Friday.

Filed to:

  • Miamihoosier

    Says a lot that Indiana is totally irrelevant to this year’s tourament….in a IU based website’s tourney preview

  • Sandra Wilson

    We shouldn’t be. Jok and Bohannon have taken more 3’s than the entire rest of the team combined. Surely, we should be able to come up with a plan to slow that down. Iowa’s terrible on defense and if we can shoot like we did against OSU, we should beat them. To me the chances of us defeating any B1G team is the ratio of passes inside to shots taken in the half court offense. The higher the %, the greater the chances of winning. Iowa’s two biggest players are 6’9″ freshmen. Yes, I know turnovers and defense are important, but we know how that will probably go. Wisconsin is beatable and so is NW or Maryland. There is almost no way we could have had a better draw. It’s winnable and we could be relevant for once this season.

  • Hoosier Hall

    Looking into the future, I can see the headlines now…. “IU WINS BIG 10 TOURNAMENT FOR FIRST TIME EVER!!! In related news, Tom Crean gets 10 year extension as his Hoosiers earn a 9 seed and will face Miami in the East region….”

  • Hoosier Hall

    Tyler Cook absolutely destroyed us last time. Other than at the free throw line, Jok didn’t really kill us. He couldn’t seem to find his rhythm. It’s always the role players that go off on IU. Seems like every time we play somebody hits their career high.

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    too bad the hoosiers dug themselves such a deep hole and the only way out is winning the confrence tournament. we need a miracle…. PUT PRILLER IN! LOL

  • John D Murphy

    I’ve moved on to the NBA for the season. I couldn’t even stomach getting through the 1st half of the IU-OSU game. Such bad defense by both teams. I don’t think I’m even setting the DVR for the IU-Iowa game. This season is worse than 2008, at least then I knew we were going to have a new coach.

  • pcantidote

    You read The Onion?

  • inLinE6

    What’s the odds losing to Wisky 3 times in a season? If that happens, we need some dramatic change in the off-season.

  • pcantidote

    Pretty high given our track record against them.

  • Hoosier Hall

    No. What is that?

  • IdahoHoosier

    The NBA?!? I’m so sorry. You MUST be in a bad place. Just kidding, it can be fun to watch super athletic guys do super athletic things (usually without defense or dribbling!) and call it a basketball game. Agree with your assessment though. Bad D for IU, just happened to hit shots enough to win this one.

  • pcantidote

    A website that does farcical news. Your headlines struck me as the kind of stuff you see there.

  • Sandra Wilson

    He had 14 points and 5 rebounds. Don’t give Jok 23 trips to the line and it’s an easy win. I still say pound it inside. They won’t stop us (inside or out). That’s one reason I enjoy watching Purdue play. Painter knows where their strength is and he plays to it EVERY game. We never seem to do that. Another thing I wish we’d do more is bring Bryant outside and post JM. He has excellent inside moves and he’s a great rebounder.

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    If you couldn’t stomach the IU-OSU game, because of “such bad defense,” then how can you handle the NBA? They don’t play any D until the 4th quarter of any game.

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    I think this year’s tourney is going to be fun to watch if for no other reason than the carnage. I can see IU playing their way onto the bubble this week, or I can see them losing to Iowa (who was a team I thought might have a shot to win the whole tourney before I saw the bracket).

    I think my pick to win it will be UM.

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    Side Note: I think the B1G should rename the 8/9 game the Illinois/Michigan Classic. One or both of these teams has been either the 8 or 9 in each of the past SIX tournaments! Illinois has been the 8 or 9 in 5 of the past 6 years, and UM has been the 8 or 9 in each of the past 3.

  • N71

    Perhaps this will lift your spirits:

  • Fifer39

    Don’t come back on here if we win then, telling us we’re going to lose to Wiscy.

  • pcantidote

    I don’t know whether to say that is awesome or not considering that I guess that really happened sans Brad Stevens?

  • N71
  • N71
  • calbert40 – AC000000

    I think if we played them six times in a season, we might lose them all.

  • Ohio Hoosier

    IU does not play good defense.
    That’s the main reason why they are where their at in the conference.
    It is not going to change soon.
    You just don’t turn it on overnight.

  • John D Murphy

    Apparently you don’t watch good teams play each other. Outside of the all star game, defense as bad as the IU-OSU hasn’t been played in my lifetime (and that isn’t a current pic).

  • John D Murphy

    Can I go ahead and stipulate to it now then? I really don’t have a strong opinion of how IU will do against Iowa. Two middling teams in a very weak conference. I also don’t think much of Wiscy. Truthfully, no team in the B1G is beyond IU even where they are at right now. I just don’t think IU can put together that many games without completely imploding. Hope I’m wrong.

  • John D Murphy

    There is no bubble for IU. They must win it all or they are out. A win against probably puts them in the NIT. I think two wins and they are definitely in the NIT. Lose by double digits to Iowa and the season is over (offiicially I mean) IMO.

  • Brad

    Did he run over Crean?

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    I’ll admit, I can’t stand the NBA. Don’t watch much at all.

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    IDK. I think if they finish 20-15 with 4 wins in their last 5, and wins over KU and UNC, that is a pretty decent profile this year, considering all of the lousy bubble teams.

  • Jeff Crowder

    Can IU get to the finals and be considered a bubble team?

  • Jeff Crowder

    That’s certainly a better profile than Syracuse, Illinois, or virtually any other bubble team.

  • Jeffrey W Adams

    The RPI and strength of schedule is lousy. They have to win out to make the big dance. One win should seal the deal for the NIT. This has been a miserable season and every win from here on out makes after season decisions more difficult.

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    RPI is such a terrible metric. Our BPI is around 30th and KenPom is 46. Still, if we get to the Final, we will have likely another 3 wins vs the Top 50 RPI. That will put us on the bubble for a bid.

    A lot depends on how the other conference tournaments go. If other teams steal bids, it could hurt everyone’s chances.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Calbert!! To me the Big Ten Tourney also means SPRING is almost here!!!

  • Piker

    Wish we had OG to stop Jok.

  • Lance76

    I just rewatched recording of Iu @ Iowa. The look Cook gave to TB after dunking in the second half Tb will not forget. Cook should have been called for taunting. Hope TB cleans his clock on Thursday.

  • Jim Miller

    So glad we know what you’re up to so we can adjust accordingly. Was not sure how to schedule my week until i knew what you were goign to do.

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    Hear! Hear! Go Cubs Go!

  • John D Murphy

    That’s an ahole comment that has nothing to with IU bball and only hateful to another poster. I have been on here venting my frustration for some time. My comment was regarding IU bball.

  • John D Murphy

    RPI is not an accurate metric but not a terrible one. It is not an accurate estimation of how good you are but a combination of how good you are and how tough a schedule you’ve played. If we played any non-conference road games, especially against good teams… If we played more teams 100-150 RPI preseason and fewer teams with +290 RPI… We have the RPI we deserve, and it is still a metric used by the selection committee. Look at the top 20 RPI. It has the same relative teams as pretty much any other measurement. Gonzaga is lower than the polls because of their conference schedule. Minnesota is higher than the polls because they have rec’d the national recognition. I’m sure there are few other differences. I wouldn’t split the difference between someone at 32 or 36, but at RPI 81 IU is out of the discussion.

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    Okay…it isn’t “terrible,” but it certainly is very flawed. The formula for RPI is weighted more towards your SOS than your actual wins and loses. I think that is not the best methodology. Seventy five percent of your ranking is SOS (oppenents and opponents of opponents).

    RPI = [Team’s winning percentage * 0.25] + [Opponents’ winning percentage * 0.50] + [Opponents of Opponents’ winning percentage * 0.25]

    Seems a little off to me.

  • John D Murphy

    Can’t disagree. It is sort of a mix or “are you good” and “are you deserving”. The trouble for IU this year is that we are neither.

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    Yeah…it’d help if we won a few more games. But this is really a product of playing the 250+ RPI schools. I completely understand playing a few cupcakes in the pre-conference slate, but not those schools. It kills our RPI. We shouldn’t schedule anyone above 200 ever.

  • John D Murphy

    I wish I could go to town clicking on the like button on that comment. And I would say only only a few between 150 and 200. There is such a difference in rating and not much in the ability to win or lose IF IF IF you are a top 20 team.

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    Yup. Scheduling these types and winning hurts us far more than scheduling a mid major like UNC-Wilmington (26 RPI), or even schools like Evansville (185). I know that Crean doesn’t know what a school’s RPI will end up being, but I think all of us have a decent handle on the difference between playing Evansville and SIU-Edwardsville.

    While we play in a difficult conference schedule, as well as sprinkling in some tough opponents (KU-2, UL-3, UNC-4 and Butler-12), we have too many terrible opponents.

    Houston Baptist – 157
    Liberty – 170
    IPFW – 174
    Austin Peay – 262
    SE Missouri St – 277
    UMASS-Lowell – 310
    Delaware St – 332
    SIU-Edwardsville – 333
    Miss Valley St – 334

    Again, I’m okay with the top three on the list, and I can understand if Austin Peay or SE Mo St would be our LOWEST RPI opponents, but those other four teams should never make our schedule. Never.