The Big Ten Conference Tournament is relatively young as the first tournament did not occur until 1998. Since then, seven teams have won the title — the latest being Illinois. The Fighting Illini hope to become back-to-back champions this year. However, Illinois is not the betting favorite at Indiana sportsbooks despite finishing tied with Wisconsin for the best conference record (15-5).
Despite finishing the regular season one game back (14-6) of Illinois and Wisconsin, that honor of betting favorite belongs to Purdue. Purdue was the betting favorite in two of the last four tournaments and lost. Will this year be different?
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Big Ten Tournament Odds
While the Fighting Illini and Badgers tied for the best conference record, Purdue (25-6) had the best overall record — just ahead of Wisconsin (24-6). Those three are not the only decent teams in the Big Ten, though. Eight of the Big Ten’s 14 teams finished the regular season with winning conference records.
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Is This Purdue’s Year To Win?
In the short history of the Big Ten Tournament, the Boilermakers have won it all just once, in 2009. While Purdue has had opportunities in recent years, the team could not get the job done. So why should sports bettors believe this season will be different?
Probably because the Boilermakers have the second-best scoring offense in the conference and are one of the better teams in the Big Ten in several offensive categories. Purdue is not as strong on the defensive end (ninth), but the Boilermakers’ offense is productive enough, averaging 80.7 points per game. So, as long as their shots fall like they did most of the season, Purdue will be tough to beat.
However, they have not been falling in recent weeks.
During the regular season, the Boilermakers were the best three-point shooting team in the conference, but they struggled from behind the arc in a couple of recent games. In the 26-point loss to Michigan a couple of weeks ago, Purdue shot 22 percent from three-point range. It was even worse (11.1 percent) in the recent loss to Michigan State.
Purdue shot better against Wisconsin and Indiana to end the regular season but still lost to Wisconsin (70-67) and squeaked past Indiana (69-67).
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It is not hard to see the Boilermakers winning it all this year. The team is talented. However, Purdue is not playing its best with losses in two of its last three games. While the Boilermakers did end the season with a win, a mediocre Indiana team nearly made it three losses in a row.
Purdue will probably not make it past Wisconsin in the semis without its A-game. However, if it does, it will likely play Illinois in the finals, and the Boilermakers are 2-0 against the Illini. this season.
Illinois and Wisconsin are certainly not bad bets. Both enter the Tournament playing well. The Fighting Illini have won nine of their last 12 and the Badgers have won seven of their last nine. Wisconsin could struggle if Johnny Davis can’t go. The Big Ten Player of the Year favorite went down with an ankle injury in their regular-season finale, but he says his ankle is fine.
Iowa has the highest-scoring offense in the Big Ten, but the Hawkeyes’ defense is ranked second to last. If you feel like testing your luck with a long shot, give Rutgers some thought. The Scarlet Knights were 12-8 in conference play but went 1-1 against Illinois, Purdue, and Wisconsin.