Game 3: #8 Maryland vs. #9 Michigan St.
This Maryland (9-11) and Michigan St. (9-11) game is one of the better ones this round. They will start the second round on Thursday when they tip off at 10:30 AM CT.
Michigan St. has apparently figured some things out and is playing well right now. They have five of their last seven games, including wins over Illinois, Ohio St., and Michigan. Maryland has also won five of their last seven, but are coming into this game as losers of two straight games, falling to Northwestern and Penn St. Before that, however, they won five straight including a win over Michigan St. in their only meeting of the year.
I think this will be a highly entertaining game to start the second round off with. At the end of the day, I think I like the Spartans’ chances here with Coach Izzo. Some may think he is overrated, but he has experience winning games in March.
Prediction: Michigan St.
Game 4: #5 Ohio St. vs. #12 Northwestern
Ohio St. (12-8) and Northwestern should be another entertaining bout. Ohio St. enters the tournament as the 5th seed after scuffling down the stretch at the end of the season. They have lost four games in a row, but three of the four were to teams ranked in the top 10 of the AP Poll.
The Buckeyes and Wildcats have met twice this season, splitting their season series. Early in the season, Northwestern snuck a one-point win out at home, while the Buckeyes enjoyed a 10-point win in Columbus back in January.
At the end of the day, the Buckeyes have shown they are a top 10 team in the country and Northwestern isn’t. Now that it is tournament time, I can see the Ohio St. buckling down and defeating the Wildcats soundly.
Prediction: Ohio St.
Game 5: #7 Rutgers vs. #10 Indiana
Rutgers (10-10) and Indiana (7-12) could be a big wild card game this round. I don’t really trust either of these teams.
Rutgers has recent losses to Nebraska and Northwestern, while Indiana has lost six of their last seven, including five straight. One of those losses was an 11-point defeat at Rutgers. Sophomore forward Trayce Jackson-Davis is a stud who is averaging 19.1 points per game. Outside of him, the Hoosiers don’t necessarily have a scoring threat.
Rutgers, who has cracked the top 25 this season, has also defeated Indiana twice this season, by four and eleven points, respectively. I think Rutgers is playing better than Indiana right now and take this game.
Game 6: #6 Wisconsin vs. #11 Penn St.
The Wisconsin basketball team (10-10) will be back for the first time since they lost to Iowa on Sunday afternoon. After such a frustrating game, I can see the Badgers playing with an edge and coming out hot. The Badgers split the season series with the Nittany Lions in their back-to-back games earlier this season, each team winning their home game.
Playing back-to-back games can always be a bit of a drag. I think the rested Wisconsin basketball team comes in with confidence and wins this game handily, ready to play Iowa the next day.