Tradition Roundtable: Championship matchup, winner and MVP of the 2021 B1G Tournament
The 2021 B1G Tournament gets underway this week! To set the stage for one of the most exciting conference tournaments in college basketball, our staff will be conducting a 3-part roundtable, leading us right in to first-round action on Wednesday night.
Topics: Selecting the championship matchup, winner and MVP for the B1G Tournament
Paul Harvey, News Writer
I’m going with Purdue vs Illinois in the title game with a reminder to fans everywhere that the overall health of your team is usually a big key to success in March. Michigan and Iowa both saw key pieces get injured Sunday in Eli Brooks and Joe Wieskamp, and there’s a cloud of uncertainty for both heading to Indianapolis. Purdue has relied on freshmen this season that have improved as the year went along, and I bet Jaden Ivey and Brandon Newman would like another crack at Michigan after a combined 5-for-22 in a regular-season loss to the Wolverines.
In the end, I expect Illinois to cut down the nets in Indy because they have been the most balanced and consistent team in the B1G since the start of February, including Michigan. Winning three straight without Ayo Dosunmu was a big statement, but now that he’s back, he’s my tournament MVP as the best all-around performer and clutch finisher for the Illini.
Spenser Davis, News Writer
Purdue vs. Illinois. Purdue is in a great position to make it all the way to the finals of the Big Ten Tournament. The Boilermakers match up well vs. Ohio State, and they figure to be the more desperate team in a potential semifinal matchup vs. Michigan. On the other side, Illinois is just clearly the most talented team on that side of the bracket. A semifinal vs. Iowa could be tough, but the Illini can lock up on defense in ways the Hawkeyes just can’t.
It’s impossible to pick against Ayo Dosunmu in the clutch. He’s come through for Illinois time after time this season, and I have no reason to expect a different result in the Big Ten title game. Purdue would give the Illini a good fight, but Brad Underwood’s team just has too much firepower. And Dosunmu winning B1G Tournament MVP honors would be a nice consolation prize after Luka Garza was named the B1G Player of the Year.
Kyle Charters, B1G Columnist
Dustin Schutte, Managing Editor
Even though Michigan dropped two of its final three matchups, I like top-seeded Michigan to play on Sunday. The opponent? How about Illinois to see who should be crowned the true champion of the B1G? Not only is this the matchup I think will happen, but it would be an incredible end to the B1G Tournament considering the two sides have been bickering about whether this year’s regular season title should’ve been a shared one. Regardless, both teams have too much firepower to be stopped short of the championship game.
Nobody is playing as hot as Illinois right now, and the added fury of being robbed of a regular season crown will fuel the Fighting Illini this week. I don’t think the Fighting Illini will win another game by 23 points against the Wolverines, but I do think they’re the best team in the conference right now.
Ayo Dosunmu should be the easy pick for the tournament’s MVP, but I’m going with Kofi Cockburn. I think his presence down low will wear teams down on both ends of the floor, especially when playing on consecutive days. I expect the Illinois big man to average a double-double over the course of three games.