Tournament to be played at Verizon Center, Washington, District of Columbia
Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Michigan Wolverines (-4.5, OFF)
After opening league play with a 3-8 mark straight up and against the spread, Illinois won five of its next six (5-1 ATS) to at least put itself into the NCAA Tournament bubble discussion and entered Sunday on a four-game winning streak after a three-point victory over Michigan State. The Illini, who haven’t reached the Big Dance since Groce’s first season in Champaign in 2012-13, ruined most of the momentum they created in February by falling 62-59 at Rutgers, however, which claimed only its third league victory. Senior guard Malcolm Hill, who landed on the all-conference second team for the second straight season Monday and ranks third in the Big Ten in scoring (17.2 points), is one of only two players from one of the six major conferences to lead his team in total points (532), rebounds (167), assists (96) and steals (36).
The Wolverines overcame their own slow start in conference play but entered their regular-season finale in much different fashion after giving up a game-winning layup at the buzzer off a long inbounds pass in a loss at Northwestern on Wednesday. Michigan bounced back in a big way with a 93-57 pummeling of Nebraska on Sunday, sending the Cornhuskers to their worst home loss in program history. The Wolverines team plane was involved in an accident Wednesday on its way to Washington. The plane attempted to take off in high winds, but takeoff was aborted and after braking strongly, the plane slid off the runway.Luckily no one was injured. According to statement from the school, the team will fly out of Detroit to Washington at 7:30 a.m. local time and the game will tip off as scheduled at noon ET Thursday.
* Fighting Illini are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
* Under is 10-2 in Fighting Illini last 12 overall.
* Under is 6-0 in Wolverines last 6 neutral site games.
* Under is 14-3 in Fighting Illini last 17 Thursday games.
Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Michigan State Spartans vs (OFF)
The Spartans are on the bubble following back-to-back losses to Illinois (73-70) and Maryland (63-60) to end the regular-season and hope to take a big step toward their 20th straight NCAA Tournament appearance by improving to 37-8 all-time against the Nittany Lions. “It’s one and done time and some people embrace it while some people fear it,” Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo told reporters. “We’ve had great success in this tournament in the last five years so we’re headed into D.C. with that same mindset.” Miles Bridges was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year after averaging 16.6 points and 8.1 rebounds during conference play, and became the first Spartan to win the award since Gary Harris in 2013.
The Nittany Lions have dropped seven of the last eight meetings with Michigan State, but beat the Spartans 72-63 at the Palestra in Philadelphia in the only regular-season clash on Jan. 7 and hope to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2015. “We just have to come out with the same intensity as we did today,” Freshman forward Mike Watkins told reporters. “We’re going to play hard and play together and the outcome will be whatever it is.” Watkins also broke the Nittany Lions’ record for most rebounds in a single season when he pulled down his 255th in the first half.
* Penn State is 8-2-1 ATS in its last 11 neutral site games.
* Michigan State is 2-7 ATS in its last nine neutral site games.
* Under is 5-1 in Michigan State’s last six neutral site games.
* Over is 5-0 in Penn State’s last five games following a ATS win.
Indiana Hoosiers vs Iowa Hawkeyes (+1.5, OFF)
The Hoosiers spent the bulk of the first half of the season ranked inside the top 10 – rising as high as No. 5 – before a season-ending injury to OG Anunoby and a three-game absence from leading scorer James Blackmon Jr. contributed to a 3-8 finish to the regular season, going 4-6-1 ATS in the process. The 2015-16 Big Ten regular-season champions closed their most recent campaign out on a high note Saturday, however, pulling out a 96-92 victory at Ohio State for their second win in three contests. After totaling 41 points on 15-of-52 shooting (and 5-of-31 beyond the arc) over his last six games – including 19 in the first meeting against Iowa – junior forward Robert Johnson (13.3 points) erupted for 26 points on 10-of-17 from the field (5-of-8 from long-range) against the Buckeyes.
A roster laden with seven freshmen was supposed to be Iowa’s major impediment from returning to the NCAA Tournament, and the team appeared to have little hope of making a fourth straight Big Dance until it ended the regular season by winning four in a row straight up and against the spread, including victories over then-ranked Maryland and No. 23 Wisconsin. The run began on Feb. 21 when the Hawkeyes ended a three-game losing streak with a 96-90 home triumph over Indiana behind 35 points from Big Ten leading scorer Peter Jok. Jok (20.2 points), who had been limited to 19 total points over his previous two games, exploded for 20 of his 21 in the second half of Sunday’s win over Penn State; the senior guard has five 30-point efforts this season, tying him for the most by a player from a power-5 conference.
* Iowa is 5-1 ATS in its last six games following a ATS win.
* Over is 12-3 in Indiana’s last 15 vs. a team with a winning SU record.
* Over is 4-1 in Hawkeyes last 5 vs. a team with a winning SU record.
* Over is 4-1 in the last five meetings.
* Underdog is 6-1 ATS in the last seven meetings.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Northwestern Wildcats (OFF)
Rutgers won its first-ever Big Ten tournament game when it knocked off 11th-seeded Ohio State 66-57 on Wednesday. The Scarlet Knights, who are ranked 10th nationally in rebounding and won the battle of the boards 47-31 to notch back-to-back conference victories for the first time since joining the Big Ten in 2014-15, hope to continue their Cinderella run with their first triumph over Northwestern in more than 14 years. The Knights will have the advantge on the glass agianst a Wildcats team that ranks 122 in rebounding. Nigel Johnson went 8-of-8 from the foul line en route to 21 points off the bench to help the Scarlet Knights shock Ohio State. Deshawn Freeman added 10 points and pulled down eight rebounds, including five on the offensive end, to finish in double figures for the 18th time this season and 23rd in his career.
The Wildcats all but cemented a place in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history following a 67-65 win against Michigan on March 1, which was their school-record 21st victory of the season. They were also a very profitiable at the betting window, going 17-11 ATS. Northwestern has won each of its last four meetings with Rutgers (3-1 ATS), including both matchups in 2016-17, and hopes to continue its dominance in the series by advancing to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2014. Bryant McIntosh was named to the All-Big Ten Second Team after averaging 14.6 points and a league-best 5.4 assists in the regular season. Scottie Lindsey is second in scoring at 14 points per game but has been held to 7.6 over his last five contests since returning from a bout of mononucleosis in mid-February.
* Rutgers 4-1 ATS in its last five games overall.
* Northwestern 3-1 ATS in the last five meetings.
* Under is 5-0 in Rutgers’ last five games following a SU win.
* Under is 10-1 in Northwestern’s last 11 neutral site games.