B1G picks: Predicting the Big Ten Tournament championship game
INDIANAPOLIS — The Big Ten Tournament championship game that fans deserve to see is upon us. Especially on the heels of a year without March Madness followed by the hollowness of a season without fans.
Purdue vs. Iowa, an offensive masterpiece waiting to happen, is the outcome that we’ve earned through that pain.
Though at the moment, many are still in pain. One of the most prevalent sights around Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Saturday afternoon was stunned and saddened kids in Indiana gear.
For any of these Hoosier fans aged 12 and under, Jordan Bohannon’s circus 3-pointer to win the game marked the most devastating moment of their fandom. Realistically, all of them would be too young to still be awake for 2016’s Sweet 16 loss to Syracuse, which was the last time Indiana basketball played a game of consequence.
Bohannon’s 36-foot rainbow off the backboard was their introduction to heartbreak.
But that’s a good thing. Because it means the Hoosiers actually played a game that mattered. And they will play more games that matter next week. There’s more reasons to be smiling than crying at the moment.
Sports Betting in Big Ten Country
There is big news coming to the upcoming 2022-23 Big Ten football season (and NFL season). Ohio online sports betting and Maryland sports betting are on the way.
21+ and present in OH. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER.
Imagine how much worse it would feel if Indiana lost to Purdue on Sunday. Perhaps Bohannon did Hoosier Nation some favors. Better to lose on a lucky shot than any sort of way to the Boilermakers.
But on to the task at hand: the Boilermakers and the Hawkeyes.
I’ve seen this one coming for awhile, and not just because I called it in Saturday’s predictions.
Purdue was my pre-Tournament pick to win the title, although this game isn’t exactly against Michigan as originally prognosticated. And a couple weeks ago I recognized Iowa was the most legitimate dark horse to win the Tournament title, though I boldly chickened out upon seeing the Hawkeyes draw Rutgers in their bracket.
This comes off as bragging because it is. But the bigger point here is that I’ve gotten a pretty good feel for the Hawks and Boilers. Which means my pick should be more trustworthy than my 6-4 record through the first 3 rounds suggests.
The pick: Iowa 88, Purdue 82
With only one game on the slate, I’ll make my first attempt at predicting a score as well. And it turns out I have far more faith in these offenses than Vegas, which has set the over/under at just 148.
Considering Iowa has hit 80 points in 7 of its past 8 games and Purdue isn’t exactly shy about scoring either, I’d be pretty disappointed if they don’t combine to at least break the 150 mark. These are the top 2 teams in the entire country in offensive efficiency, according to KenPom.com.
Purdue won both regular-season meetings, which is the primary reason I like the Hawkeyes to take Part III. And it’s not because of that old canard about how hard it is to beat a team 3 times in a season.
It’s hard to win when you’re Iowa and you don’t have Keegan Murray, which was true in the first meeting and for 11 minutes of the second due to foul trouble.
Matt Painter was the first to point this out in his postgame press conference Saturday.
“We beat Iowa twice. Keegan Murray didn’t play in the first game and Keegan Murray got in foul trouble in the second game,” Painter said. “So keep that in perspective.”
Point taken. And points will be scored by Murray, who is averaging 28 per game in this tourney. He will be the Big Ten Tournament Most Outstanding Player, leading the Hawkeyes to their first title since 2006.