Which Big Ten team cuts down the nets?
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WhatIfSports.com utilized its NCAA basketball simulation engine to present conference tournament previews and predictions for the Big East, Big Ten and Pac-12. We simulated each matchup 501 times to learn each team's win percentage and average score. Simulations are based on updated rosters and the statistical makeup of each team during the 2011-12 season.
Thad Matta ordered a Big Buford with "onnnnions" and his sole senior delivered.
After trailing by as many as 15 in the first half, Ohio State and Michigan State came out swinging in a second-half slugfest. With both Draymond Green and Jared Sullinger in foul trouble, Sparty and the Bucks had to get creative on offense. Buford's off-balanced jumper from the top of the key was the dagger with one second remaining on the clock.
To add a dash of irony to Sunday's showdown, the Michigan Wolverines were rooting against their little brother and rooting for the team in Ohio to pull off the upset on the road. With the Buckeyes' win, the Wolverines, OSU and MSU all share the Big Ten regular season title.
The Maize and Blue return to the national basketball picture led by Tim Hardaway Jr. (14.5 ppg.) as the second-generation NBA talent lifted his game to lead Michigan.
Wisconsin enters the Big Ten Tournament as a No. 4 seed with an unusually weak resume. They rank 267th in points per game, 194th in rebounds, 271st in assists per game and 233rd in field goal percentage nationally.
In four seasons, Tom Crean has yanked Indiana out of the state's version of basketball hell. The Hoosiers finished 3-15 in conference play last season, but won seven out of their last eight games, including a big win over Michigan State, to finish 11-7 in Big Ten play this season.
At 18-12 overall and 8-10 in the conference, Northwestern could use a few Big Ten wins this week to strengthen its NCAA tournament resume.
Big Ten Opening Round
|Illinois Fighting Illini||39.3||68|
|vs Iowa Hawkeyes||60.6||71|
|Penn State Nittany Lions||16.0||61|
|vs Indiana Hoosiers||84.0||72|
|Minnesota Golden Gophers||52.7||65|
|vs Northwestern Wildcats||47.3||64|
|vs Purdue Boilermakers||65.5||67|
WhatIfSports.com's college basketball simulation engine must not be feeling the peeps in purple. Northwestern got knocked out by Minnesota in the first round. The closely contested matchup gave the edge to Tubby and company by an average margin of victory of one point. The Wildcats and Gophers split the season series with both teams winning at home.
The rest of the Big Ten tournament's opening round was as expected with chalk across the board.
Big Ten Quarterfinals
|vs Michigan State Spartans||72.7||72|
|vs Wisconsin Badgers||39.3||65|
|Minnesota Golden Gophers||49.3||63|
|vs Michigan Wolverines||50.7||64|
|vs Ohio State Buckeyes||73.3||74|
Despite losing starting guard Branden Dawson for the season with a torn ACL, Sparty took care of Iowa in the Big Ten quarterfinals. Dawson, a true freshman, averaged over eight points per game for Tom Izzo this season.
With those ugly national stats in mind, and knowing our college basketball simulation engine is driven by the statistical makeup of each team, Wisconsin got bounced by Indiana in over 60 percent of the sims by an average score of 68-65.
Big Ten Semifinals
|vs Michigan State Spartans||54.9||70|
|Ohio State Buckeyes||69.7||72|
|vs Michigan Wolverines||30.3||67|
The Hoosiers shocked the red-hot Spartans the final week of the regular season in Bloomington, but even without one of their starters, Michigan State got their revenge in the semifinals.
Speaking of revenge, Ohio State crushed their rival nearly 70 percent of the time. This after the Wolverines stunned the Bucks in Ann Arbor a few weeks ago.
Big Ten Championship Game
|Ohio State Buckeyes||41.3||69|
|vs Michigan State Spartans||58.7||71|
Michigan State came into Columbus' Schottenstein Center on February 11 and snapped Ohio State's 39-game home winning streak. Three weeks later, the Buckeyes traveled to the Breslin Center and, in the first half, played like a team more deserving of a No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament than a top contender.
In the world of college basketball simulation engines, those stats don't lie and it will exploit your weaknesses. Thus, Michigan State wins the rubber match in the 501 Big Ten Championship simulations nearly 60 percent of the time by an average score of 71-69.
Ryan Fowler is the Content Manager for Whatifsports.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.