Badger Nation's Tournament Picks

Wisconsin's Bo Ryan cut down the nets last year in Indianapolis, capping off a duel championship season for the Badgers. Which of the 11 teams will ascend the ladder and cut down the nets?

INDIANAPOLIS - The Big Ten has sent seven teams to the NCAA tournament four times, most recently in 2001. Will this be the year the conference sets a record with eight?

The top two seeds have cut down the nets nine of 11 times in the Big Ten Tournament, including the last seven years. Will Michigan State or Illinois make it eight straight?

Sixth-seeded Iowa won the 2001 BTT, the lowest seed ever to do so. Will someone from day one win four games in four days?

There were so many compelling story lines in the regular season that one would think that this would be upset city? Maybe, maybe not. What we can be sure of is that every game is compelling and one could make a legitimate case for either opponent in every matchup to win.

I was pretty close on my preseason conference picks (only really missing on Northwestern and Wisconsin in January's Badger Nation magazine) so let's see if I can go 2-for-2.


Thursday, March 12

Game 1: No. 8 Minnesota vs. No. 9 Northwestern, BTN, 11:00 a.m.

First Meeting: Craig Moore scored 22 points, hitting six three-pointers in the process, to help Northwestern end an 18-game losing streak over ranked opponents by beating No.18 Minnesota, 74-65, in Evanston on January 18.

Second Meeting: Lawrence Westbrook scored 17 points to lead Minnesota to an easy 72-45 victory in Minneapolis on February 22.

The Pick: Northwestern is hot, Minnesota is not. The Wildcats have played people tough all conference season. Combine the backcourt one-two punch of Craig Moore and Michael Thompson with a belligerent Kevin Coble in the post, Northwestern will pop Minnesota's bubble.

Besides, you can't spell Minnesota without the letters N, I, and T.

Worgull's Pick: Northwestern

Game 2: No. 7 Michigan vs. No. 10 Iowa, ESPN2, 1:30 p.m.

First Meeting: Manny Harris had 18 points and DeShawn Sims added 16, leading Michigan to its eighth win in the last nine games, the eighth being a 64-49 win over Iowa on January 11 in Ann Arbor.

Second Meeting: Jake Kelly set career highs with 23 points and nine assists and freshman Matt Gatens added 16 for the Hawkeyes, who outscored Michigan 14-4 in OT to snap a two-game losing streak by beating Michigan in Iowa 70-60 in overtime on February 22.

The Pick: Which Michigan team is going to show up? The one that stunk the first 38 minutes in Minneapolis or that one that was dominant in the final 12? Iowa is playing much better as of late, but the Hawks are only 2-12 outside Iowa City.

Worgull's Pick: Michigan

Game 3: No. 6 Penn State vs. No. 11 Indiana, ESPN2, 4 p.m.

First Meeting: Stanley Pringle scored 19 points, Jamelle Cornley had 17 and Talor Battle added 12 to lead Penn State over Indiana 65-55, its first win on the Hoosiers' home court in 15 tries, on January 17.

Second Meeting: Talor Battle scored 16 points and Jamelle Cornley added 10 points, but Penn State had to overcome an average performance and a last-second three-pointer to beat the Hoosiers in State College, 61-58, on February 28.

The Pick: In a glorified home game for Indiana, the Hoosiers probably love this matchup against a team they had on the ropes twice this season. Penn State is probably hoping than Devan Dumas can't play for the second straight game. I would love to pick Indiana and watch Tom Crean run around and slapping hands with all the loyal Hoosier fans in attendance. I just don't think it's going to happen this year.

Worgull's Pick: Penn State


Friday, March 13

Game 4: No. 1 Michigan State vs. No.9 Northwestern, ESPN, 11:00 a.m.

First Meeting: Raymar Morgan had 22 points and a season-high 13 rebounds, Kalin Lucas scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half and Chris Allen scored 16 to help the Spartans score the first 12 points of the second half to turn a one-point deficit into an 11-point lead and earn a 77-66 victory in Evanston on January 3.

Second Meeting: Kevin Coble scored 31 points to lead Northwestern to a 70-63 upset of the No. 7 Spartans, snapping MSU's 28-game home-court winning streak on January 21.

The Pick: Few conference teams have matched up better with the Spartans than the Wildcats. This should be a dandy to watch with the Spartans high-paced offense against the grinding 1-3-1 defense and Princeton offense of Northwestern. I'll pick the Spartans in a very close game.

Worgull's Pick: Michigan State

Game 5: No. 4 Wisconsin vs. No. 5 Ohio State, ESPN, 1:30 p.m.

First Meeting: Evan Turner scored 23 points for Ohio State, who shot 55 percent from the field, but couldn't overcome 19 turnovers, 17 points from senior Marcus Landry and Joe Krabbenhoft's nine points, eight rebounds, six steals and four assists to lead Wisconsin to 55-50 victory on February 14 in Madison.

The Pick: Wisconsin's pressure was too much for the Buckeyes in the first matchup and Ohio State has really struggled down the stretch against some of the bottom teams of the conference. The Badgers seem to be on a roll and should sneak by this quarterfinal matchup.

Worgull's Pick: Wisconsin

Game 6: No. 2 Illinois vs. No.7 Michigan, BTN, 5:30 p.m.

First Meeting: Manny Harris had 16 points and four teammates reached double figures in scoring to beat Illinois in Ann Arbor, 74-64, on January 4.

Second Meeting: Mike Tisdale scored 24 points, 18 coming in the second half, to counter Manny Harris' 20 points and lead the Illini to a 66-51 home victory on January 14.

The Pick: The hardest game to pick thus far in the tournament. If Michigan can contain Tisdale, get into Illinois' bench and get a superb effort from Manny Harris, the Wolverines should win. Illinois will have been off for eight days at tip off. I like the Wolverines' chances should they get this matchup.

Worgull's Pick: Michigan

Game 7: No. 3 Purdue vs. No.6 Penn State, BTN, 8 p.m.

First Meeting: The Nittany Lions used a 13-0 run in the second half and 21 overall points from Talor Battle to outlast the Boilermakers in State College, 67-64, on January 6.

Second Meeting: JaJuan Johnson scored 14 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as Purdue outscored Penn State 33-21 in the second half and held Battle scoreless for a 61-47 win in Purdue on February 11.

The Pick: Purdue has been battling itself all conference season. The Boilermakers have had time to rest up and match-up well with the Nittany Lions this season. A healthy Robbie Hummel should help Purdue get into the semifinals.

Worgull's Pick: Purdue


Saturday, March 14

Game 8: No.1 Michigan State vs. No.4 Wisconsin, CBS, 12:40 p.m.

First Meeting: Conference Player of the Year Kalin Lucas scored 17 points and Goran Suton had 16 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Spartans to a 61-50 victory in East Lansing on February 22.

The Pick: Wisconsin struggled to make shots and let the game get away from them in the second half. Can UW really go a whole season without beating Izzo once? Unfortunately, I don't think UW has the athletes this season to compete with the Spartans late in games.

Worgull's Pick: Michigan State

Game 9: No.7 Michigan vs. No.3 Purdue, CBS, 3:05 p.m.

First Meeting: Michigan led 26-25 at halftime, but Manny Harris was ejected early in the second half after elbowing Chris Kramer in the face. That was the momentum Purdue needed, as the Boilermakers outscored the Wolverines 40-20 the rest of the way to win in West Lafayette, 67-49, on January 31.

Second Meeting: DeShawn Sims scored a career-high 29 points and Manny Harris had 27 points and eight rebounds, helping the Wolverines break a three-game losing streak for ranked opponents by beating Purdue, 87-78, in Ann Arbor on February 26.

The Pick: Big man JaJuan Johnson is a threat at both ends and he wasn't happy the last time these two teams plays, especially watching the film of Sims go off in the post. Johnson is going to have a big game and the Boilers are going to Boiler Up to the title game.

Worgull's Pick: Purdue


Sunday, March 15

No.1 Michigan State vs. No.3 Purdue, CBS, 2:30 p.m.

First Meeting: JaJuan Johnson scored 17 points, E'Twaun Moore had 13, Robbie Hummel had 11 and Purdue forced 22 turnovers, blocked eight shots and held Michigan State to 33 percent shooting in a dominant 72-54 victory on February 17.

Second Meeting: Kalin Lucas scored 21 points to pace the Spartans and the Boilers shot only 28.3 percent from the floor and were forced to watch MSU raise the 2009 Big Ten Championship banner and deal with a 62-51 victory in East Lansing on March 8.

The Pick: Can Sparty make the clean sweep? It a year where the conference had a solid nine teams in it, Michigan State was a cut above the rest. This game should be entertaining, especially with Purdue finally getting close to full strength. MSU is not a Final Four team, but they definitely are the best of the conference.

Worgull's Pick: Michigan State

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