Big Ten Conference Basketball Preview: Purdue, MSU the Favorites

Plenty of Teams to Battle for Positioning in Big Ten Basketball Tournament

The Big Ten Conference may be a little bit top heavy this season. You have Purdue and Michigan State both ranked in the top four of the AP preseason basketball Top 25 poll. But then there’s a massive drop down to Illinois at No. 25. Wisconsin finds itself just outside of the poll at No. 26 and Maryland was No. 30 in preseason voting.

There’s a slight drop-off after that to Ohio State and Northwestern. Several rebuilding teams don’t figure to be a threat for the regular season title, but could be tough when the Big Ten Basketball Tournament rolls around.

Realistically, there are four or five teams that can win the regular college basketball season title in the Big Ten Conference. You can throw a few more into the mix for winning the Big Ten Basketball Tournament. But for betting purposes, the only thing we’re concerned with now is the regular season conference winner. Here’s a look at the top teams and their odds to take the regular season title.

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The Favorites

Boilermakers logo Purdue Boilermakers (+200)

Purdue checks in as the favorite to win the Big Ten and it’s easy to see why. The Boilermakers return Zach Edey after his 22.3 points and 12.9 rebounds per game. Edey’s other NCAAB player stats are pretty impressive, as he shot 60.7% from the field and recorded 27 double-doubles during the season. At 7-foot-4, he’s an imposing figure in the paint.

With teams focusing on Purdue’s inside game, it leaves the outside open, where it’s up to senior Mason Gillis and sophomores Fletcher Loyer and Braden Smith to make some shots. They were fair last year, but if they can get better, Purdue will be that much tougher to beat.

Spartans logo Michigan State Spartans (+300)

The Michigan State Spartans are going to be tough again, although the team’s No. 4 ranking in the AP poll might be a bit on the high side. The Spartans return four of their five starters from a year ago. But the Spartans also had a top-notch recruiting class, with Xavier Booker the prized recruit.

The 6-foot-11 big man was ranked as the second-best center among incoming freshmen. Veterans A.J. Hoggard and Tyson Walker are key players who will be counted to carry the team at times.

The Outsiders

Terrapins logo Maryland Terrapins (+750)

Maryland lost some talent from last year’s team, but return double-digit scorers Julian Reese, Donta Scott and Jahmir Young from last year’s team. Depth is a key concern for Maryland, who doesn’t have a very deep bench that can be counted on for an extended period.

That means the Terrapins need their key players to remain healthy throughout the season. The college basketball predictions have Maryland as the third choice in the Big Ten and that’s probably a bit on the high side.

Fighting Illini logo Illinois Fighting Illini (+800)

Illinois is going to go as far as its backcourt takes them this season. The Fighting Illini are strong up front with the likes of Dain Dainja and Coleman Hawkins, but need somebody other than Terrence Shannon to make some plays at guard. Several guards, Jayden Epps and Skyy Clark transferred, leaving a bit of hole in the backcourt. Illinois will still be a decent team. But decent typically isn’t going to get the job done in the Big Ten Conference.

Hoosiers logo Indiana Hoosiers (+1000)

The Hoosiers are listed at +1000 to win the Big Ten Conference regular season title and those odds are too low. Indiana isn’t going to be a great offensive or defensive team. The Hoosiers lost key players Trayce Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson from last year’s squad, along with Jalen Hood-Schifino, which is three of their four top scorers.

But Xavier Johnson is back after missing most of last season and freshman Mackenzie Mgbako was considered a top 10 player entering college. Big man Payton Sparks transferred in from Ball State and can give the team some decent minutes.The Hoosiers will challenge for a spot in the NCAA Tournament, but probably not the Big Ten Conference title.

A good run in the Big Ten Basketball Tournament is a possibility, but the Hoosiers have a tough road ahead.

The Longshots

Badgers logo Wisconsin Badgers (+1500)

The Badgers return all five starters from last year’s team, which isn’t necessarily a great thing in terms of conference play. Wisconsin went 9-11 in conference play last year and needed three NIT victories to reach 20 wins. The Badgers are going to play tough defense. That’s pretty standard for Wisconsin.But there are some question marks regarding the offense.

Chucky Hepburn led the team with 12.2 points and 2.8 assists per game. Those aren’t the type of numbers you want to see on a team battling for the conference title. If the offense comes around a bit, the Badgers could make a push for the Big Dance. But anything more than that seems unlikely.

Buckeyes logo Ohio State Buckeyes (+1500)

The Buckeyes came crashing to earth last season, going just 5-15 in Big Ten Conference play and they lost two of their top players in Brice Sensabaugh and Justice Sueing. Ohio State still has some talent returning, with players like Zed Key and Bruce Thornton, along with a handful of transfers.

The offense should be pretty solid once again. But the Buckeyes are going to have play better defense if they want to make a run near the top of the conference standings. Ohio State will be better in NCAAB conference games than it was last season, but anything more is asking a bit much.

Who to Bet On?

Betting on the favorites in futures bets usually isn’t a great idea. But the favored teams are favorites for a reason and this year Purdue looks to be the class of the Big Ten Conference. After becoming the first No. 1 seed to ever lose to a No. 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament, Purdue’s ‘Redemption Tour’ is worth getting behind.

The Boilermakers will be on a mission and probably a team to consider in your NCAAB picks and parlays style during the season. Purdue has the talent to make it a clean sweep this season by winning the regular season title and the Big Ten Basketball Tournament.

For NCAAB betting news, NCAA basketball odds analysis, and more, visit Point Spreads Sports Magazine.

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