FULL CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT BETTING BREAKDOWNS
If you only have time this week to watch one conference tournament, make sure this is the one. The 2021 Big Ten men’s basketball tournament will get underway on Wednesday from Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Michigan earned the No. 1 seed by winning the league's regular season race on the strength of a 14-3 record within the conference. The No. 2 seed was earned by the surging Illinois Fighting Illini. The Iowa Hawkeyes, led by Luka Garza, slid into the No. 3 seed while Purdue locked up the four seed.
This year, the oddsmakers at DraftKings Sportsbook expect a close battle for Big Ten supremacy. The rankings are in agreement with the sportsbooks listing Michigan as the team to beat in this year’s tournament. The No. 1 seed Wolverines sport a 19-3 overall record and are the highest ranked Big Ten team, but only slightly ahead of Illinois who is the second betting choice at +375. Purdue, is the hottest team in the conference winning five consecutive games, and are the fourth betting choice at odds of +500.
The sharps out in Vegas are fading an inconsistent Iowa club at short odds and are instead looking elsewhere. The Semifinals on Saturday will likely feature outstanding matchups involving Michigan, Purdue, Ohio State, Illinois and Iowa. With so many top teams there simply is no easy path for any of the top seeds to make it to the championship game on Sunday afternoon.
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Big Ten Tournament Contenders
No. 1 Michigan Wolverines (19-3; 14-3 Big 10; 16-6 ATS) +175
The wise guys in Vegas have backed Michigan for the majority of the season and down the stretch that led to financial success as the Wolverines went 7-3 against the spread (ATS) over their final 10 regular season games. However, Juwan Howard’s crew will need to rebound in the Big Ten tournament after losing two of their last three games to Illinois and Michigan State. The road will not be easy for Michigan as they will likely need to get by a surging Spartans club as well as a red-hot Purdue squad just to get to the title game.
No. 2 Illinois Fighting Illini (20-6; 16-4 Big 10; 17-9 ATS) +375
Illinois shocked many around the country, winning three consecutive games without their star point guard Ayo Dosunmu (facial injury). Their last three wins have been incredibly impressive going on the road and upsetting Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio State. The 23-point win over the Wolverines as 8.5-point road underdogs last week still has the college basketball world buzzing. With Dosunmu now back, Illinois is not only a threat to win the Big Ten championship, but also a national championship.
No. 3 Iowa Hawkeyes (20-7; 14-6 Big 10; 15-12 ATS) +425
The Hawkeyes possess one of the best players in college basketball in Luka Garza and that has translated into seven wins in their last eight games dating back to early February. As strong as Iowa is along the front lines they lost to both Michigan and Illinois during their regular season matchups and likely drawing the Fighting Illini in the Semifinals is where their journey will come to an end.
No. 4 Purdue Boilermakers (18-8; 13-6 Big 10; 14-10-2 ATS) +500
The Boilermakers have played superb basketball since early February but they failed to beat any of the top three teams (Michigan, Illinois and Iowa) in the regular season. It has been a great ride for Purdue bettors as the club has posted an outstanding 11-3 ATS mark over their past 14 games, but the road to a Big Ten championship is too hard and the odds do not offer the value needed to merit a wager.
Frankie Whispers Breakdown: The Big Ten conference currently has three teams ranked inside the top five of the latest AP Top 25. Any of the top seeded teams could easily emerge victorious on Sunday afternoon, but it's hard to not land on a championship game featuring Michigan and Illinois. The Fighting Illini came together as a “team” when they lost Dosunmu for three games and emerged unscathed. The talented floor general reminds me of another star point guard who led his team on a historic run. Ten years ago, Connecticut’s Kemba Walker led the Huskies on an 11-game winning streak that culminated with a national championship. We could be the cusp of witnessing that kind of history once again and the respected money arriving in Las Vegas is in agreement.
Pick: Illinois +375
Big Ten Tournament Betting Odds
Ohio State +685
Michigan State +5000
Penn State +20000
Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook
2021 Big Ten Tournament Schedule
Location: Bankers Life Fieldhouse -- Indianapolis.
First round -- Wednesday, March 10
Game 1: No. 12 Northwestern vs. No. 13 Minnesota | 6:30 p.m. | Big Ten Network
Game 2: No. 11 Penn State vs. No. 14 Nebraska | 25 minutes after Game 1 | Big Ten Network
Second round -- Thursday, March 11
Game 3: No. 8 Maryland vs. No. 9 Michigan State | 11:30 a.m. | Big Ten Network
Game 4: No. 5 Ohio State vs. Game 1 winner | 25 minutes after Game 3 | Big Ten Network
Game 5: No. 7 Rutgers vs. No. 10 Indiana | 6:30 p.m. | Big Ten Network
Game 6: No. 6 Wisconsin vs. Game 2 winner | 25 minutes after Game 5 | Big Ten Network
Quarterfinals -- Friday, March 12
Game 7: No. 1 Michigan vs. Game 3 winner | 11:30 a.m. | Big Ten Network
Game 8: No. 4 Purdue vs. Game 4 winner | 25 minutes after Game 7 | Big Ten Network
Game 9: No. 2 Illinois vs. Game 5 winner | 6:30 p.m. | Big Ten Network
Game 10: No. 3 Iowa vs. Game 6 winner | 25 minutes after Game 9 | Big Ten Network
Semifinals -- Saturday, March 13
Game 11: Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner | 1 p.m. | CBS
Game 12: Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner | 25 minutes after Game 11 | CBS
Big Ten Tournament Championship Game -- Sunday, March 14
Game 13: Game 11 winner vs. Game 12 winner | 3:30 p.m. | CBS
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