Busting Brackets

Big Ten Basketball: 2024 conference tournament preview and predictions

Purdue v Michigan
Purdue v Michigan / Mike Mulholland/GettyImages
5 of 5


Game 1: #13 Rutgers vs. #12 Maryland

The two split their series in the regular season, but the Scarlet Knights have been on a tailspin their last 7 games going 1-6. Maryland’s defense should be the differencemaker here.

Maryland 65, Rutgers 58

Game 2: #14 Michigan vs. #11 Penn State

There are almost no words for the circus that the Wolverines’ season has been and it’s almost better for their sake that they are put out of their misery. Michigan is on an 8 game losing streak and with just one game decided by single digits. Nittany Lions should advance.

Penn State 82, Michigan 70

Game 3: #9 Minnesota vs. #8 Michigan State

Minnesota just doesn’t have the defense to limit Michigan State’s guards and Malik Hall. The Golden Gophers are one of the worst three-point defending teams in the country and don’t really speed up or turnover their opponents. Spartans should survive to reach their big litmus test.

Michigan State 74, Minnesota 68

Game 4: #12 Maryland vs. Wisconsin

This is a dream scenario for Kevin Willard’s team. Wisconsin as previously mentioned is in a free fall and haven’t pieced together a complete game in months. Should Young get any remote help scoring Maryland squeaks this out and we start paying attention to a chaotic run.

Maryland 64, Wisconsin 60

Game 5: #10 Ohio State vs. #7 Iowa

The Buckeyes season is an enigma, sputtering out under Chris Holtmann and putting together a little run under interim head coach Jake Diebler. It will be interesting to see if Ohio State remains motivated despite no real path to the tournament versus a team that desperately needs to win. If Ohio State’s defense and effor shows up their talent supercedes Iowa’s. But alternatively, Iowa’s shotmaking is a head above Ohio State’s.

Iowa 78, Ohio State 75

Game 6: #11 Penn State vs #6 Indiana

Penn State knows exactly the buttons to push against Indiana and this tournament game should be no different. The Hoosiers just have no answer for Penn State’s perimeter scoring.

Penn State 78, Indiana 70

Game 7: #8 Michigan State vs. #1 Purdue

Look, magic can happen. The Spartans were within 6 points their last matchup against Purdue. Should Tyson Walker and Aj Hoggard hit shots there is a real chance the Boilermakers are in trouble. And it’s possible that Purdue has nothing really to prove and can lay off the gas in preparation for a long tournament run. Neighbors helping neighbors and a get right shooting game from the Michigan State guards brings a shocker.

Michigan State 78, Purdue 73

Game 8: #12 Maryland vs #4 Northwestern

The Terrapins’ run would be predicated on mucking the game up and clamping their opponent by forcing tough shots. Unfortunatel for them, they would be facing a Wildcats team that is sixth in the nation in three-point percentage. I just don’t see a way for Maryland to match that firepower.

Northwestern 74, Maryland 68

Game 9: #7 Iowa vs. #2 Illinois

The season closed for these two teams with the Illini dismantling the Hawkeyes soundly. There is just a stark contrast in defensive ability from these two schools, making a three-peat for Underwood’s team too likely to talk yourself out of it.

Illinois 76, Iowa 70

Game 10: #11 Penn State vs. #3 Nebraska

All eight of Fred Hoiberg and Nebraska’s conference losses came on the road, so there are questions if Cornhuskers basketball travels. But the team from Lincoln should have little trouble executing their elite interior defense, with the best two-point shooting percentage defense in the league.

Nebraska 72, Penn State 60

Game 11: #8 Michigan State vs. #4 Northwestern

After a shocking upset of Purdue, and the résumé saving win for Michigan State, a letdown game feels all too possible. The Spartans will be playing their third game in as many days. Izzo’s club won the last matchup 53-49 with Northwestern shooting an abysmal 18 for 51 from the field. I don’t see that happening again.

Northwestern 78, Michigan State 73

Game 12: #3 Nebraska vs. #2 Illinois

A rematch of an overtime thriller in the semifinals. The Cornhuskers were an absurd 12 for 28 when they played the Illini in Champaign, a difficult efficiency to match again. But if Nebraska can work on limiting offensive rebounds (Illinois had 17 in that previous game) they could have a shot. But that’s a lot of ifs.

Illinois 75, Nebraska 71

Game 13: #4 Northwestern vs. #2 Illinois

Next. What's at stake in the SEC Tournament?. What's at stake in the SEC Tournament?. dark

This game is entirely dependent on how Shannon shows up to it. His 5 turnovers in the in the January 24th game left the door open for the Wildcats to snatch a win at home. The Illini are just too big inside for Chris Collins’ Wildcats. A win for the Illini means they’d enter the NCAA tournament winning 7 of their last 8 games. 

Illinois 74, Northwestern 63