2011 Big Ten Women’s Tournament Preview

Jantel Lavender posting up Chelsea Jones

This season I had a rough time picking the games during the regular season. I went 118-59 overall with my women’s picks this year. I did go 5-0 last week though so I think that makes me an expert. After watching enough pre and post game shows for the men this year I found out that you can be wrong the majority of the time, but if you just accentuate the times you were right you are considered an expert. So we will just look at my 5-0 record last week, and judge the season from there.

After a rough regular season it is tournament time for the ladies. I really don’t know what to make of the bracket as I look at it. I really think that Purdue was given a good draw. They have a path that can take them right to the title game. That being said the first two games of that path would be against teams they have beaten twice this year. I know that in football you can usually pick the team that lost twice in this matchup. We will see how that translates to women’s college basketball. A lot of these matchups could go either way so this bracket could look really good for me, or end up really bad. If the season so far is any indication you can pick directly against me and do pretty well.

Day One: The first game of the tournament features #7 Purdue against #10 Indiana. What better way to start the tourney than to match up Purdue and IU. Purdue won both matchups this season against the Hoosiers which you would think would point to a Boiler win. It has to be hard to win three times in one season against a team though so that advantage goes to the Hoosiers. Purdue usually has a strong presence at the tourney though so I would give Purdue the win with the crowd getting behind them. They usually seem to play well in Indy. The second game might be the easiest that I will pick in this tourney. Illinois has had a rough season so far. They are at the bottom of the conference, and just what Wisconsin needs in the first round. I think Wisky wins this one easily. The nightcap Thursday features #8 Northwestern up against #9 Minnesota. The two teams split the regular season matchups each winning at home with an almost identical score. I will pick Northwestern just because Minnesota just seems to be to hard to predict. They lost five of their last six games, but the one win was at the three seed Michigan. So after day one Purdue, Northwestern, and Wisconsin all move on.

Day Two: The first game of day two features another matchup for Purdue against a team it swept in the regular season. #2 Penn State only lost five times in Big Ten play, but two of those losses were to #7 Purdue. I am sure that they will have a chip on their shoulder when the play Friday. Being a homer for Purdue I have to pick them though. Purdue was the only team to beat Penn State twice this season, and I think that they will do it for a third time. The second game features #3 Michigan against #6 Wisconsin. Michigan won both meetings this season easily winning at home, and squeaking one out on the road. As hard as it is to win three times against one opponent I think that Michigan wins. The third game of the day features the #1 seed Michigan State against #8 Northwestern. The Spartans only played the Wildcats once this season, but they won by fourteen at home. This game may be closer than that, but I think Sparty wins. The final game will probably be the best game of the day. #4 Iowa takes on #5 Ohio State. The two teams have had opposite seasons it seems like. Iowa was hot from the start, and took six of their seven losses this season in Big Ten play. Ohio State on the other hand came out of the gate cold. They were the consensus pick to win this conference, but they did not play like that early. After getting pounded by UConn they lost at home to Duquesne. At one point this team that started the season in the top five fell out of the rankings. They have been playing much better lately. I will take OSU based on the fact that Iowa is not great away from Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Day Three: Now things get interesting. Only four teams are left. #7 Purdue will be matched up against #3 Michigan. During the regular season Purdue won by a point at home, and lost by twelve in Ann Arbor. I am just too close to this Purdue team to not think that they will win this game. Purdue has a better overall record, and was just a game behind them in conference. By Saturday I think that even more Purdue fans will be in Indy to see the game giving them the edge here. The game of the tournament I think will be #1 Michigan State against #5 Ohio State. Michigan State has only lost three times this season in conference. Two of those were to the Buckeyes. I really would like to pick Ohio State here, but their past tournament performances combined with the fact they would have to beat the top team in the league three times makes it easy to pick Michigan State.

Championship Sunday: The title game will feature the top seed Michigan State up against #7 Purdue. The two teams only met once this season. That was a 21 point blowout by the Spartans in East Lansing. I think that Sparty wins this game, but it will be much closer than that. My title game score is Michigan State 66 – Purdue 53. Purdue will stay with them all game, but fall late. As a Purdue fan I would love to predict the win, and the automatic bid in the tourney. I think that if they make it this far they are a lock anyway. I just can’t see them running the table winning four games in four days. Fatigue will be an issue here. They will have to have used their bench wisely early on to have a shot here.I think Michigan State takes this title, but Purdue will get a boost by finishing well.

So that is a look by an ‘expert’ on how this tourney will go. You could take what I say seriously, or just fill out the bracket yourself. You will have better luck with the latter I would guess. Below is a copy of my bracket for the tournament. It would be great if I didn’t have to wait until over a week after the tournament to fill out the NCAA bracket. That week will be a hard one to see what Purdue’s fate is. I think if they win tomorrow they should be in. Going further will make the road a lot easier for them. I do not want to see them playing in Storrs for sure. A close first round matchup in Cincinatti would be great for this team. It would also set up a potential second round game against Xavier. You can’t think of any reason why that would be big can you? The only matchup I would like to see us win more in this tournament would be against Texas Tech. Of course that would be a hard one to have happen. Right now Charlie Creme has Purdue as a seven seed and Texas Tech as an eight seed. That would mean that even if the teams were in the same bracket they would not meet until the elite eight. I would take that I guess.


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