The 2022 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.

Topic: Which B1G team could be the dark horse to win the conference tournament, and which player could be a breakout star this week?

Alex Hickey, B1G columnist

Dark horse: This bracket sets up very well for Maryland to make a run. If turtles can run, that is. Michigan State has been slumping down the stretch, though the Spartans beat the Terrapins in the regular-season finale. But I don’t think the Spartans are that much superior that it will happen twice in the same week.

After that, the Terps would face Wisconsin with uncertainty surrounding the health of Johnny Davis. Right now, it looks like Davis will play, but how effective will he be? And will Wisconsin realize it’s better to rest him for next week than push it for a Big Ten tournament title? By the time you get to the semis, anything can happen. And getting that far counts as a dark horse run, anyhow.

Breakout player: It’s hard to go on a dark horse run without a breakout player, so perhaps it goes without saying that my pick is a Terp. Fatts Russell is a name made for March, and he’s got a game made for March. Russell averaged 14.9 points per game in league play and made 79% of his free throws. I think he will have the Terrapins playing on Saturday afternoon.

Adam Spencer, news/newsletter editor

Dark horse: In my mind, every team in the B1G Tournament is a dark horse because there’s no clear favorite to cut down the nets in Indianapolis. However, that would be a cop-out answer for this question, so instead, I’ll go with Iowa. The Hawkeyes are the No. 5 seed in the tournament, but KenPom gives them the second-best chance to win it all, behind Purdue.

Keegan Murray can take over games. The Hawkeyes can score with anyone in the country. They’re going to be a tough out. In a wide-open tournament field, perhaps no one can take them out.

Breakout player: For my breakout player, how about Chucky Hepburn, the freshman at Wisconsin? Johnny Davis and Brad Davison understandably get most of the headlines for the Bagers, but Hepburn has come on strong as of late. He scored 17 points and knocked down a huge game-winning 3-pointer against Purdue recently and had 13 points and 5 assists in a big win at Rutgers the game before that.

If Davis is slowed down at all by his injury suffered on a flagrant foul in the Nebraska loss, the Badgers will need someone to step up. Hepburn has shown flashes of brilliance lately and could shoulder more of the scoring load in Indy.

Paul Harvey, news writer

Dark horse: Is it possible for a 4-seed and double-bye recipient to be a dark horse? That sure feels like the case for Rutgers heading into Indianapolis. The Scarlet Knights have shown more than enough with wins over Michigan, MSU, OSU, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and Purdue. The problem? All of those wins came at home. To get deep in Indy, Ron Harper Jr. will need to be at his best with a lot of help from the supporting cast.

Breakout player: Speaking of Harper’s supporting cast, getting a breakout performance from Paul Mulcahy is likely the key for the Scarlet Knights during the B1G Tournament. Over a 7-game stretch from late January into February, Mulcahy averaged 16.4 points and 6.4 assists while shooting better than 60% from the field.

Unfortunately, he crashed back down to earth with averages of 6.3 points, 3 assists and 4.3 turnovers while shooting 35% in the final 4 games of the season. Mulcahy doesn’t need to score 20 points a night, but he will need to be efficient with the ball for Rutgers to be a contender in March.

Dustin Schutte, news editor

Dark horse: Look, I know Michigan State is playing some of its worst basketball at absolutely the wrong time, but can we really count out a Tom Izzo-coached team? We’ve done that before and it usually doesn’t work out well. The Spartans have a favorable matchup with Maryland in their first game of the B1G Tournament. A win sets up a matchup with Wisconsin. If it gets by the Badgers, MSU will likely play either Ohio State or Purdue for a trip to the championship game on Sunday.

Michigan State split with Wisconsin, defeated Purdue at home and lost to Ohio State on the road. Is it the easiest path to the B1G Championship Game? Absolutely not. Is it impossible to get their with a little March magic? Not at all.

Breakout player: Sticking with Michigan State, Tyson Walker has an opportunity to really make a splash this week in Indianapolis. He averaged 8.3 points and 4.4 assists per game this season but is capable of taking over a game or stepping up in a big moment. He scored 26 points against Illinois. The junior guard buried a game-winning 3-pointer to sink No. 4 Purdue in a must-win game. Walker dished out 10 assists in a December victory over Oakland.

If Michigan State is going to make a deep run in the B1G Tournament, Walker is going to play a pivotal role.

Previous topics

Which bubble teams will make, or break, their NCAA Tournament hopes