The DI Illinois men’s basketball writers predict Big Ten Tournament outcomes

Illinois+fans+storm+the+court+at+State+Farm+Center+after+the+team+pulled+off+a+74-72+win+against+Iowa+on+Sunday.+

Cameron Krasucki

Illinois fans storm the court at State Farm Center after the team pulled off a 74-72 win against Iowa on Sunday.

By Jackson Janes and Josh Pietsch

The postseason is here, and first up is the Big Ten tournament, which begins on Wednesday. The Illini may not tip off until Friday morning, but outgoing sports editor Jackson Janes and sports on-air editor Josh Pietsch make their predictions on each game in the conference tournament as the Illini look to defend their title.

Jackson Janes, outgoing sports editor

Game 1: No. 13 Nebraska over No. 12 Northwestern

Despite having a 4-16 record, the Cornhuskers are one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten, as they are on a three-game winning streak that has included road wins over Penn State, Ohio State and Wisconsin.

Northwestern may have won both meetings between the sides this season, but I think Nebraska is capable of pulling off the minor upset. 

Game 2: No. 11 Penn State over No. 14 Minnesota

These are two teams that are on lengthy losing streaks, so it was a bit tougher to decide between the two, but I think the Nittany Lions just have a bit more talent than the last-place Golden Gophers.

Game 3: No. 8 Michigan over No. 9 Indiana

The Hoosiers likely need to win this game to have a shot at an at-large bid to the Big Dance, but I think the Wolverines are really starting to find their groove after starting the season as conference favorites and finishing in the middle of the pack.

Juwan Howard returns as head coach after serving his five-game suspension, and I think Michigan will advance to take on Illinois in the third round.

Game 4: No. 5 Iowa over No. 13 Nebraska

This has the potential to be a pretty decent game given both team’s recent success, but I think Iowa has just a bit more talent and depth to advance to Day 3.

Game 5: No. 10 Maryland over No. 7 Michigan State

I do not have many upsets in these predictions, so might as well take a chance here. The Terrapins are a very flukey team, and the Spartans did just beat them on Sunday, but this could be a little bit of madness in March.

I think Michigan State has the better players and is the better team, but Maryland could maybe pull off an upset? Maybe?

Game 6: No. 6 Ohio State over No. 11 Penn State

E.J. Liddell. Malaki Branham. Kyle Young. Zed Key. Justin Ahrens. Shall I keep going?

The Nittany Lions will probably make things interesting, but I have the Buckeyes advancing.

Game 7: No. 1 Illinois over No. 8 Michigan

Illini fans, rejoice. You could get your chance at redemption for a third time this season. Kofi Cockburn vs. Hunter Dickinson is always a fun matchup, and I think the Illini will beat the Wolverines for a third time this season.

Game 8: No. 5 Iowa over No. 4 Rutgers

I could really see this game going either way. I know this is being played at a neutral site, but Rutgers is awful away from The RAC. The Scarlet Knights are 4-9 when playing away from home! That’s bad! Iowa advances to take on the Illini in the semis.

Game 9: No. 2 Wisconsin over No. 10 Maryland

Maryland’s magic runs out against a Wisconsin team that’s simply going to outplay them. These two teams split the regular-season series, but Big Ten Player of the Year Johnny Davis is going to carry his team to victory.

Game 10: No. 3 Purdue over No. 6 Ohio State

This should be a fantastic game between two fantastic teams. The Boilermakers won on a last-second 3-pointer from Jaden Ivey in the teams’ only regular-season meeting, and I think they will do just enough to win the rematch.

Game 11: No. 1 Illinois over No. 5 Iowa

Both games these teams have played against each other this season have been nothing short of highly entertaining. This should be another classic, but I think Illinois will win. It will certainly be close, though.

Game 12: No. 3 Purdue over No. 2 Wisconsin

The Badgers won both regular-season meetings between the two sides, and I think the Boilermakers will finally get their revenge when it matters most. Purdue’s bigs, Zach Edey and Trevion Williams, are going to have big games, and Purdue will advance to take on Illinois in the final on Sunday.

Game 13: No. 3 Purdue over No. 1 Illinois

Illinois has already lost to Purdue twice this season, and I think that trend will continue in the conference tournament final. Jaden Ivey is going to be too much to handle, and Illinois will not defend its tournament title despite a very close and entertaining game.

Josh Pietsch, sports on-air editor

Game 1: No. 13 Nebraska over No. 12 Northwestern

Easy pick here. Nebraska is hot, will likely be fully healthy and I don’t think Northwestern has anyone to bother the Huskers aside from Pete Nance. 

Game 2: No. 11 Penn State over No. 14 Minnesota

Penn State plays a lot of good teams close and does have some bad losses to lower Big Ten teams, but I like Jalen Pickett and Seth Lundy to lead them out of the first day over last-place Minnesota.

Game 3: No. 8 Michigan over No. 9 Indiana

Indiana is desperate, but Michigan is playing great ball right now. Look for DeVante’ Jones to keep up his impressive play over Indiana’s guards. 

Game 4: No. 5 Iowa over No. 13 Nebraska

This game could be closer than people think, but I still like Iowa. The Hawkeyes are playing their best ball of the year, are going to be better rested and have Keegan Murray. 

Game 5: No. 7 Michigan State over No. 10 Maryland

Maryland will be a popular pick, but I like the Spartans. Gabe Brown or Max Christie should have a mismatch and help lead their team to a close victory.

Game 6: No. 6 Ohio State over No. 11 Penn State

This game will be close, since the Nittany Lions play every good team close, but E.J. Liddell is the X factor here, and I expect him to carry the Buckeyes to the quarterfinals. 

Game 7: No. 1 Illinois over No. 8 Michigan

It’s hard to beat a team three times in one year, but I bet Illinois does it. Kofi Cockburn has the edge over Hunter Dickinson, and the Wolverines will be winded from a close one the day before. 

Game 8: No. 4 Rutgers over No. 5 Iowa

This is going to be a great game, and Iowa is going to be a popular pick to go to the championship game. But a well-rested and better-coached Rutgers team with Ron Harper Jr. will be bringing their all. 

Game 9: No. 2 Wisconsin over No. 7 Michigan State

The two teams split games earlier this year, but Wisconsin is the better team right now. Johnny Davis will go off in a close Badger win. 

Game 10: No. 3 Purdue over No. 6 Ohio State

Jaden Ivey vs. Malaki Branham should be fun to watch, but Purdue’s two-headed monster at center will be too much for E.J. Liddell and the Buckeyes. 

Game 11: No. 1 Illinois over No. 4 Rutgers

Illinois beat Rutgers by 35, then the Scarlet Knights won at home by 11. The Illini are better, and Kofi Cockburn will lead them to a semifinals win.  

Game 12: No. 3 Purdue over No. 2 Wisconsin

The Boilermakers have learned their lesson after losing to Wisconsin twice this year already. Again, I expect the Purdue bigs to dominate and lead them to a win. 

Game 13: No. 3 Purdue over No. 1 Illinois

Purdue has beaten the Illini twice this year already, and I don’t think Illinois has a solid answer for Jaden Ivey. I like the Boilermakers to win a close game and take the tournament crown from the defending champs. 

 

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