Inside the Hall’s 2018 Big Ten tournament preview

  • 02/28/2018 8:59 am in

We’ll have our traditional what to expect series previewing Rutgers or Minnesota on Thursday, but first up, Inside the Hall previews the Big Ten Tournament as a whole. The event tips off later today:

2018 Big Ten Tournament bracket
Location: New York, New York (Madison Square Garden)
Dates: Feb. 28 – March 4
Teams with a bye to Thursday: Wisconsin, Maryland, Michigan, Northwestern, Penn State, Indiana
Teams with a double bye to Friday: Michigan State, Nebraska, Ohio State, Purdue
Television: BTN, CBS

Most friendly path to Sunday: Michigan State. The outright regular season Big Ten champions come into New York on a roll. The Spartans have won 12 in a row and will open tournament play on Friday against the winner of Thursday’s matchup between Maryland and Wisconsin. Assuming Michigan State can advance to Saturday, it will play the winner of Michigan-Nebraska. The Wolverines are also among the league’s hottest teams entering the tournament, but that would be their third game in three days and Michigan State would be looking to avenge a regular season loss to the Wolverines. Most importantly, Michigan State avoided Ohio State and Purdue in the semifinals by earning the event’s No. 1 seed.

Most intriguing Thursday matchup: Northwestern-Penn State. The Nittany Lions are on the wrong side of the NCAA tournament bubble and need wins in New York just to get into the conversation. While a win over Northwestern doesn’t change much, Penn State has no shot to make the tournament if it loses to Northwestern. The Wildcats, meanwhile, still have most of their roster intact from last season’s NCAA tournament team. Will seniors Bryant McIntosh and Scottie Lindsey try to mount one final run at MSG?

Team with the most to prove: Nebraska. If a fifth Big Ten team is going to make the NCAA tournament, it’s the Cornhuskers. Nebraska won 13 Big Ten games, but a soft league schedule currently has the Cornhuskers out of the tournament according to the latest projections from Andy Bottoms. In fact, Bottoms doesn’t even have Nebraska among his first five teams out. For Nebraska to feel good about its chances to dance, it needs a Friday win over Michigan and may even need to beat top seed Michigan State on Saturday.

Players to keep an eye on:

· Cassius Winston, Michigan State: Guard play wins come tournament time and the Spartans have one of the league’s best in Winston. Winston led the Big Ten in both assist rate and 3-point field goal percentage, but was somehow only named third team All-Big Ten. If Michigan State is going to win this event, it needs Winston to play well.

· James Palmer, Jr., Nebraska: The Cornhuskers need wins and while they have plenty of notable contributors, Palmer Jr. is clearly the guy capable of leading them on a run in New York. Palmer Jr. is one of the league’s best offensive players because of his ability to put the ball and the floor and attack the rim.

· Tony Carr, Penn State: Like Palmer Jr., Carr will have a lot of weight on his shoulders in New York. If Penn State is going to make a run, Carr is the man to lead the way. He’s one of the Big Ten’s best guards and if the Nittany Lions can beat Northwestern on Thursday, Carr will have a shot to lead Penn State to a third win this season over Ohio State on Friday.

· Keita Bates-Diop, Ohio State: The clearcut Big Ten player of the year, Bates-Diop was in a slump late in the season before scoring 24 points in OSU’s 80-78 double overtime win over Indiana on Friday. With a week off between games, Bates-Diop should be well rested in what will likely be his final conference tournament.

· Carsen Edwards, Purdue: The Boilermakers lost their first game in last year’s Big Ten tournament in Washington D.C, but Edwards was a bright spot. He scored 17 points in Purdue’s overtime loss to Michigan. A first team All-Big Ten selection, Edwards is essential to Purdue’s success in the Big Ten tournament and beyond.

Bids on the line: The only two Big Ten teams that are considered to be on the NCAA tournament bubble are Nebraska and Penn State. And neither are in the field right now according to most projections. We already mentioned that Nebraska might need a run to Sunday to feel confident about its chances and Penn State probably needs to do the same. That would mean beating Northwestern, Ohio State and likely Purdue on Saturday.

Filed to:

  • PBzeer

    Right now, Watkins is doubtful for PSU. Could make it tough for them to get by NW, much less OSU, without him.

  • SCHoosier

    Hottest team coming into the b-ten tourney is UM? Good defense and a versatile offense.

  • N71

    This should be fun to watch. I’m anticipating the top teams (MSU, Purdue, and OSU) letting off the gas a little knowing they’ve already punched their ticket and the second tier (Michigan, Nebraska, IU, Penn State) throwing haymakers. I’m also curious to see how New York City works for the event. I thought Indianapolis was ideal, Chicago a little less so.

  • calbert40

    Can someone explain the formula for the RPI? I was looking at IU’s resume compared to PSU and NEB, and truthfully, they are really similar…except for RPI.

    PSU: 19-12, 9-9. 53rd SOS, 324th NCSOS – RPI 83
    IU: 16-14, 9-9. 41st SOS, 251st NCSOS – RPI 110

    Obviously, IU beat PSU head to head and played a tougher schedule. The only thing PSU has done that IU hasn’t is beaten OSU. Nebraska has a better record, but they had probably the easiest B1G schedule and the worst SOS of all three teams…yet their RPI is 59. I don’t get it.

  • iugradmark

    UM has been very good the past several seasons getting better down the stretch. I didn’t think that would happen this year but have to give credit to Coach B. for putting together another nice run when it matters.

  • calbert40

    I think I recall that now that you post it. Thanks.

    I’ve never much cared for RPI. I have a hard time believing that there are 109 D1 teams that are better than IU. RPI doesn’t account for when and where opponents were played.

  • AndyCapp

    I hope it’s a LONG time before we play the B1G Tourney at MSG again. The compacted schedule made it brutal for some teams, especially IU. I hope the B1G Prez and committee makes it a media event in NYC to somehow give any kind of credence to this otherwise mostly stupid decision.

  • AndyCapp

    Probably so they can say that they used a metric when all they really want is to favor (weaker) conferences and teams.

  • sarge

    They have already admitted to it being a mistake.

  • AndyCapp

    Certainly not this year thanks to the clowns scheduling the B1G tourney at MSG! But I think Calbert was making a point that relative to the other two, NEB had an easier B1G schedule, lesser SOS, but a much higher RPI. I def think there was some eye-opening scheduling bias at play this year that affected the B1G standings.

  • Sandra Wilson

    First, I disagree with this article that MSU has the easiest path. They struggled with Wisconsin, lost to Michigan and to OSU. That, of course, is assuming Michigan and OSU get to play them. Actually, Penn State has a good path. They should beat NW, they beat OSU twice, lost on a last second shot at Purdue and out played MSU at MSU, and just fell apart at the end. Will they win it all, it’s doubtful, but on paper they have a better draw than MSU. Fatigue and injuries also may do them in. MSU did have the gift of the easiest schedule presented to them by the B1G this season which not only gave them the title, but also the double bye. Their 12 game winning streak was over Purdue, at home, by 3 and 11 teams in 6th place or below. Wow, that’s really a great accomplishment with as much talent as anyone in the country. They struggled in every game off their home court and didn’t travel to Purdue, Nebraska, Michigan or Penn State. As far as Winston, he was lucky to be on the 3rd team. A high shooting % on 3’s and a high assist rate on a team that no other team in the B1G could match in ability or size should be expected of any decent guard. There are numerous guards in the B1G better than he is.

  • AndyCapp

    Won’t argue with most of what you wrote BUT PSU might be missing one of their keys players (Watkins) which will make it MUCH tougher for them.

  • Tommy Morrsion

    Lots of respect for Beilein. If you have not had the chance to read about Austin Hatch and the impact Coach B has had on him please do a Google search. Lots of great articles.

  • Oldguyy

    Always will be appreciative of Beilein for his having run off Max Bielfeldt. Not the smartest thing he ever did, but it certainly helped us.

  • Hoosiernation1887

    Really glad to hear in Archie and the players’ latest press conference that the players showed great energy in practice recently following a couple days off. Certainly wouldn’t of been hard to be a bit demoralized after two tough losses to end the season, ending a very narrow path to maybe get back to the NCAA bubble. Hopefully the guys take advantage of the 6-day layoff and will get their confidence soaring again after beating down Minnesota or Rutgers, and go into the Purdue game wanting that sweet sweet vengeance.

  • calbert40

    Compared to the rest of the league, their schedule was easier than most. Maybe the easiest of all.

  • calbert40

    If the source can be trusted, then I stand corrected. I didn’t know that.

  • StudentHoosier

    Dare we run the table on this thing and go dancing?

  • sarge

    I think we can do it with a little bit of luck!

  • HoosierEconomist

    bless your heart.

  • VAHoosier

    3rd team all Big-Ten is exactly where Winston belonged. I thought putting him on 1st team was the most puzzling of several strange picks in ITH’s post-season awards.

  • Ivan Renko

    My understanding is the RPI’s formula looks heavily at a team’s opponent’s record. So PSU would likely get a nice bump compared to IU since, like you stated, they beat OSU twice. And OSU has a very nice record.

    edit: found on the Internet: In its current formulation, the index comprises a team’s winning percentage (25%), its opponents’ winning percentage (50%), and the winning percentage of those opponents’ opponents (25%). The opponents’ winning percentage and the winning percentage of those opponents’ opponents both comprise the strength of schedule (SOS). Thus, SOS accounts for 75% of the RPI calculation and is 2/3 its opponents’ winning percentage and 1/3 its opponents’ opponents’ winning percentages.

  • sarge

    If it were a good metric then fans would use it in reference to how good or bad their teams are. Instead they use virtually every other metric in the sport yet the committee still uses RPI heavily in all of their work. It is baffling why they haven’t changed much in 20 years of new analytics to measure team performance.

    Edit: This has actually been used since 1981 in college hoops, sheesh! We have had so many things change in the world since then, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Chernobyl disaster, two separate wars in Iraq, the rise of the computing age and the internet, Duke becoming relevant in college basketball, two separate Bush Presidencies and they still haven’t moved on from RPI!

  • Ivan Renko

    I didn’t think it accounted for location either, but actually it does upon further research (on wikipedia, lol).

    “For Division 1 NCAA Men’s basketball, the Winning Percentage factor of the RPI was updated in 2004 to account for differences in home, away, and neutral games. A home win now counts as 0.6 win, while a road win counts as 1.4 wins. Inversely, a home loss equals 1.4 losses, while a road loss counts as 0.6 loss. A neutral game counts as 1 win or 1 loss. This change was based on statistical data that consistently showed home teams in Division I basketball winning about two-thirds of the time.”

    but regardless, RPI is an extremely flawed and outdated ratings metric. it shouldn’t be used for anything at all IMO, esp not for NCAA tourney seeding purposes.

  • Arch Puddington

    You know what else hasn’t gone away after all that time? Dick Vitale. He even pre-dates the RPI. I will admit that I don’t hate the RPI as much as some, but I am nonetheless ready for both of those dinosaurs to get hit by an asteroid (figuratively speaking, of course! Don’t want Dickie V to get hurt, just to go away).

  • Kwang

    It was done to get Rutgers in the B1G.

  • Ole Man

    Supposedly this was the year it was going to happen.
    BUT, they use it to rank quadrant wins, so if anything it is raising its ugly head more than ever.
    The metrics this year are totally out of wack because RPI is used to decide what is a quad 1 etc.

  • Ole Man

    Actually, close, but if I remember correctly MSU was said pre-season to have the easiest Big schedule.

  • Ole Man

    Isn’t it just great that our Big Ten Tournament is off and running this week.
    Think about it.
    Along side such illustrious tournaments as the Patriot League. And all the other major conferences, ACC, SEC, etc, are having their women’s tournaments this week.
    Ah, it’s great to have such a fine Commissioner who is obviously only looking out for the welfare of our young men and the game.

  • sarge

    Thank you, and bless yours. It’s not a stretch, we are playing our best ball of the season. We just need that bit of luck to finish tough games. Hitting free throws would help too.

  • inCMitrust

    It is time for the B1G presidents and AD’s to fire Delany. There are just too
    many bad decisions that he is responsible for and they now out way his only good move; the Big Ten network. Some examples: (1)Putting football and basketball games on non traditional days. All the comments this past week about the horrible attendance at the IU game on Friday night. What idiot schedules games on a Friday night when the students want to party after a week of classes. Let’s put some football games on days that will piss off all the high school coaches. Dumbass move. (2) Adding Rutgers and Maryland to the B1G. (3) The whole debacle this year with condensed schedule and early B1G tourney. (4) And who the hell puts the ACC/B1G mathups together every year. It’s if they are designed every year to guarantee an ACC win. (5) Putting the B1G tourney in DC and NYC away from all the fans. I’m sure there are more.

  • Tcuomo

    RPI should be eliminated

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Enjoy tomorrow’s game. Keep the faith. Go Hoosiers!!!!!!

  • Kwang
  • HoosierEconomist

    Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be rooting as hard as the next Hoosier. However, this season conditioned me to not expect much from this squad in high pressure situations.

    The best thing we can do now is play like we got nothing to lose and hope Devonte shows up to run the show.

  • Koko

    Keep going man you’re on a roll.

  • Ivan Renko

    I agree besides when it comes to the ACC/B1G challenge. I’ll admit, it was REALLY bad in the early/mid 2000s, but the B1G has won or tied 7 of the past 9 challenges (5 outright wins). more parity recently IMO.

    i’ll also say they seem to want to pair IU with either Duke or UNC every single year. I’m not complaining about that. Makes for a great atmosphere and the opportunity to pick up a marquee win.

  • HoosierEconomist

    Well that was stupid.