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2011 Big Ten Conference Tournament Predictions

Defending conference tournament champion Ohio State won the Big Ten regular season title with a 16-2 record.  The Buckeyes have been the most consistent performer in the conference tourney recently, winning three championships while making six finals the last nine years.  With this in mind, it comes as no surprise that NCAA basketball odds makers have listed Ohio State as the tournament favorite (-110).

Purdue and Wisconsin, which won the 2009 and 2008 Big Ten tournament titles respectively, figure to give the Buckeyes a run for the money, though.  Check out my NCAA basketball picks on the 2011 Big Ten Conference tournament below to see which school I have winning it all.

Opening Round - Thursday

No. 8 Northwestern v. No. 9 Minnesota: The Gophers really struggled down the stretch, but I'm encouraged by the way they played in the Big Ten tourney a year ago when they made a run to the title game.  Minnesota should have just enough magic left to move on to the quarterfinals.

No. 7 Michigan State v. No. 10 Iowa: Iowa beat Michigan State by 20 points in early February and upset Purdue last week on senior day, but I'm not sold.  The Hawkeyes have really struggled away from home where they have dropped eight of their last nine.

No. 6 Penn State v. No. 11 Indiana: Indiana lost its final eight games of the season, and its last four defeats have come by double digits.  Expect Taylor Battle to lead the Nittany Lions into round two.

Quarterfinal Round - Friday

No. 1 Ohio State v. No. 9 Minnesota: I don't think Ohio State will bury the Gophers by 29 like they did in last year's championship game, but they will do enough to march on.

No. 4 Illinois v. No. 5 Michigan: I really like the way John Beilein has his team playing down the stretch.  The Wolverines enter the tourney having won eight of their last 11, and I like them to keep rolling.

No. 2 Purdue v. No. 7 Michigan State: The Spartans get a tough draw here.  They lost to Purdue by 10 and 20 points this season.  Plus, Sparty has the misfortune of playing Purdue after it was upset by lowly Iowa.  The Boilermakers will be out to wash that sour taste out of their mouth.

No. 3 Wisconsin v. No. 6 Penn State: Penn State has a win over Wisconsin this season, but it catches the Badgers at a bad time here.  Motivated by a brutal 28-point loss to Ohio State in its last game, Wiscy will be out for blood.

Semifinal Round - Saturday

No. 1 Ohio State v. No. 5 Michigan: The Buckeyes have made 21 more free throws than the Wolverines have attempted in a pair of victories this season.  Ohio State should live at the foul line again in this one.

No. 2 Purdue v. No. 3 Wisconsin: Wisconsin has been susceptible when playing away from home this season.  That doesn't bode well for the Badgers, considering this one will be like a home game for Purdue at Conseco.

Championship Game - Sunday

No. 1 Ohio State v. No. 2 Purdue: While Ohio State has made plenty of championship game appearances the last nine years, it has never won back-to-back titles.  Led by JaJuan Johnson, expect the Boilermakers to come out on top, just as they did against Ohio State in the 2009 final.

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