We passed on the first round of the Big Ten tournament, because of zero betting confidence regarding any of the participants. But a couple of second-round games interest us. Here’s our take on Thursday evening’s action at Madison Square Garden. Free College Basketball Picks: Thursday Night at the Big Ten Tournament.
Penn State -5.5/132.5 vs. Northwestern (6:30 pm ET, Big Ten Network)
The Nittany Lions (19-12 SU, 14-12 ATS) finished .500 in the Big Ten this season at 9-9, but they missed a chance to secure an NCAA bid by losing their last three games, albeit against decent teams in Purdue, Michigan and Nebraska. Now they’ll have to win this conference tournament to earn a bid.
The Wildcats (15-16, 11-17), on the other hand, disappointed by going 6-12 in conference play this season, losing their last six games in a row. Several of those late losses were close, one in overtime; they just couldn’t win one. So Northwestern’s only chance to make it back to the NCAA tournament is also to win this Big Ten tournament.
Unfortunately, the Wildcats are also down a key man, with leading rebounder Vic Law out with a bad foot.
These teams split two meetings this season, each winning and covering at home. But Penn State shot 53 percent from the floor in those two games combined, while Northwestern only shot 40 percent.
Free Big Ten Tournament Pick: Penn State
Indiana -6/124 vs. Rutgers (9 pm ET, BTN)
The Hoosiers (16-14 SU, 18-12 ATS) also finished 9-9 in Big Ten play this season, losing their last two games to Nebraska and in overtime to Ohio State. But they did win four in a row just before that. Nonetheless they’ll also need a run through this conference tournament to make the Big Dance.
The Scarlet Knights (14-18, 12-12), meanwhile, lost 10 of their last 11 games to finish 3-15 in Big Ten play. But they managed to beat Minnesota in the first round of this tournament Wednesday night 65-54.
Indiana won the only meeting this season between the teams, 65-43 at Rutgers back in January. The Hoosiers held the Knight to just 16 points in the first half and to just 24 percent FG shooting for the game. Also, that game played way under a total of 129.
IU might not win this one by 22, but seven would do it.
Free Big Ten Tournament Pick: Indiana