- Michigan State is the favorite to win the Big Ten Conference Tournament
- The Spartans are tied for the most quadrant 1 wins in the NCAA, despite significant injuries
- Is MSU a better bet than Purdue and Michigan at slightly longer odds?
Championship week is upon us, and one of the most compelling conference tournaments in college basketball will take place in Chicago, as three of Kenpom.com’s top-10 teams will battle for Big Ten supremacy (Mar. 13-17).
Michigan State, which was the regular season co-champ along with Purdue, tops the odds, followed by Michigan, last season’s NCAA Tournament finalists, and Matt Painter’s Purdue Boilermakers.
Odds to Win 2019 Big Ten Conference Tournament
|Team||Odds at Sportsbook 1||Odds at Sportsbook 2|
The somewhat sizable difference between the odds for MSU and Michigan/Purdue is largely a result of the bracket, which pits the Wolverines and Boilermakers against each other in the semifinals (if the chalk holds).
MSU, on the other hand, would get fourth-seeded Wisconsin in the semis, a team they already beat by eight on the road.
Big Ten Tournament Bracket
It’s not just a favorable draw that has the Spartans favored, though.
Michigan State swept the Wolverines this season, punctuated by a come from behind win on Saturday in East Lansing.
— Michigan State Basketball (@MSU_Basketball) March 11, 2019
They’ll be the number one seed this weekend and will aim to capture their third Big Ten crown in the last six years, while subsequently ending Michigan’s two year reign.
Last Five Big Ten Tournament Champions
One of the most impressive aspects of the Spartans 2018-19 season has been their ability to overcome adversity. They won 20 of their final 24 games, despite losing their second and third-leading scorers for large chunks of the season.
Great note from Michigan State: Spartans captured a share of the Big Ten regular season title despite losing 24 games to injury among its regular starting lineup. No other AP Top 10 team lost more than nine games due to injury among its regular starters.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) March 10, 2019
Guard Joshua Langford was lost for the year back in December due a foot injury, while forward Nick Ward missed the final five games with a broken hand.
— Rico Beard (@RicoBeard) March 10, 2019
Ward is expected back this weekend, but even without him, the Spartans offense hardly missed a beat, winning four of five, including both matchups with Michigan.
SPARTY ON TO A BIG TEN TITLE! ?
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 10, 2019
Cassius Cashing In
The main reason for that success has been the play of Big Ten Player of the Year Cassius Winston. The junior guard has excelled all season, averaging 19 points on just 13 shots a game, making him one of the most efficient offensive players in the nation.
BIG TEN PLAYER OF THE YEAR!
— Michigan State Basketball (@MSU_Basketball) March 11, 2019
He dominates the offense without dominating the shots, leading to a balanced attack and a conference best 7.6 assists per game. His sharp shooting and elite play making has the Spartans ranked 4th in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency ratings, and has led them to an NCAA-best 11 quadrant 1 wins.
— Michigan State Basketball (@MSU_Basketball) March 6, 2019
Michigan State’s high hopes for a deep conference tournament and March Madness run lie squarely on his shoulders, and he’s given them no reason to think he won’t continue to dominate.
Are the Spartans the Michigan program to back?
MSU’s +140 price is steep given the competitiveness of the Big Ten, but it’s the best bet given how the Wolverines have faltered down the stretch. Michigan dropped two of its final four games and looked vulnerable at the defensive end for the first time all season.
Michigan shot 7 free throws all game. MSU shot 30. I get how it looks. But this wasn’t why Michigan lost. Defense was horrendous in the second half. Couldn’t get any rhythm offensively either.
— Mike Sullivan (@MikeSullivan) March 10, 2019
They’ve allowed opponents to score at least one point per possession three times in the past four games, after allowing it to happen only four times in their first 27 games. They’ve been without their third-leading scorer Charles Matthews for the past three contests and the offense has suffered, failing to reach their season average in points in two of those three matchups.
Their offense isn’t strong enough to compensate for an underperforming defense, and if they don’t tighten up at their own end, they could be in line for an early exit this weekend.
Pass on Purdue
The Boilermakers certainly exceeded expectations this season, earning a share of the Big Ten regular-season title, when most predicted a middle-of-the-pack finish.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 19, 2018
They’re led by Carsen Edwards, an elite scorer, but their inexperience is concerning. They replaced four starters from a season ago, and benefited greatly from a cupcake schedule down the stretch. Just one of Purdue’s final 11 games was against a top-five conference opponent, which they lost against Maryland.
Wisconsin is the long shot to watch
If you can’t stomach the Spartans short odds, checkout the Badgers at +600. Wisconsin won 11 of its final 14 Big Ten games and have nine quadrant 1 wins this season.
“HE HIT IT! D’MITRIK TRICE!”
— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) February 7, 2019
They’re a strong perimeter shooting team and have the stingiest defense in the Big Ten, allowing just 60 points in conference games this season.
SBD’s NCAA conference tournament coverage:
- 2019 AAC Tournament Odds: Houston Listed as Favorite
- 2019 Pac-12 Tournament Odds: Washington Listed as Favorite
- 2019 Big West Conference Tournament Odds: UC Irvine the Odds-On Favorite
- 2019 ACC Tournament Odds: Virginia, not Duke, Listed as Slight Favorite
- 2019 SEC Tournament Odds: Tennessee & Kentucky Favored Over LSU
- 2019 Big East Conference Tournament Odds: Villanova Favored Over Slumping Marquette
- 2019 MEAC Tournament Odds: Norfolk State Listed as Favorites
- Lipscomb Odds-On Favorite to Win NCAAM Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament
- Colgate Odds-On Favorite to Win Patriot League Tournament
- 2019 Horizon League Tournament Odds: Northern Kentucky Favored
- 2019 Big South Tournament Odds: Radford Favored
- 2019 MAAC Tournament Odds: Iona & Rider Listed as Co-Favorites
- 2019 Colonial Conference Tournament Odds: Hofstra Given Edge Over Northeastern
- Saint Francis Red Flash Favored to Win 2019 Northeast Conference Tournament
- Belmont Favored Over Murray State in Ohio Valley Conference Tournament
- 2019 West Coast Conference Tournament Odds: Should You Bet Against Gonzaga?
- 2019 Summit Conference Tournament Odds: South Dakota St Heavily Favored
- Wofford Listed as Odds-On Favorite in 2019 Southern Conference Tournament
- Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Odds: Loyola-Chicago Favored
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