Big Ten Odds Report: Sparty Remains on Top of a Competitive Big Ten
Tom Izzo knows a thing or two about getting Michigan State to the top of the Big Ten mountaintop and as we enter the pivotal month of February, Izzo once again has the 16th ranked Spartans (16-6, 8-3 B10) in the first place.
If Izzo is to win his third-straight regular-season conference title (Big Ten Odds: +300), he will rely on the experienced duo of Cassius Winston and Xavier Tillman.
Winston (18.2 ppg, 5.7 apg, 1.2 spg), is widely considered as the favorite to win both the Naismith Award and Wooden Award, while Tillman (13.5 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 2 bpg) gives Sparty an inside presence to complement their potent backcourt.
Sparty enters this week looking to rebound following a disappointing 64-63 road loss to a depleted Wisconsin team on Saturday. This week the Spartans will entertain No. 22 Penn State (Feb. 4) before heading to Ann Arbor (Feb. 8) for a matchup with in-state rival Michigan.
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Illini Odds as They Continue to Surprise the Big Ten
While Michigan State is once again positioning themselves for a run at another regular season title and 23rd consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, the race to win the Big Ten will likely not
be decided until the last weekend of the year.
With five teams in this week’s Top 25 and all but two schools (Nebraska and Northwestern) above .500, the Big Ten is arguably the strongest conference in college basketball this season.
Brad Underwood’s 20th ranked Illinois Fighting Illini (16-6, 8-3 B10) have been one of the biggest surprises of the season to date, entering this week with the same record as Michigan State, but losing the tie-breaker due to a 76-56 loss to the Spartans in early January.
The Illini were listed as +5000 long shots to win the conference before the season began and their Big Ten Odds are now at +1000.
This is potentially great value on a team that continues to improve as the season goes on, oh and they still have a home game against Michigan State waiting for them on the schedule later this month.
Illinois enters this week looking to bounce back from a 72-65 road loss against #18 Iowa with another huge matchup against 9th ranked Maryland on Friday (Feb. 7).
If you’re looking for a sleeper of sorts to win the conference championship, don’t forget about the boys from Champaign.
the Terps are Picking Up Steam
Speaking of Maryland, the Terps (17-4, 7-3 B10) are another team hot on the tail of Michigan State.
After starting the season 3-3 in conference play, No. 9 Maryland has rattled off four straight victories with their most impressive victory during this stretch coming last Thursday (Jan. 30) over Iowa.
Senior guard Anthony Cowan Jr. (16.2 ppg, 4.3 apg) and sophomore forward Jalen Smith (15.3 ppg, 9.8 rpg) have paced a Terrapin team with National Championship ambitions all season and will be instrumental if the Terps are to chase down Michigan State to claim their first ever Big Ten Conference Championship (Big 10 Odds: +450).
This week, Maryland hosts the surprising Rutgers Scarlet Knights (Feb. 4) before the aforementioned road affair against 20th ranked Illinois on Friday (Feb. 7).
Rutgers Just Will Not Go Away
How much of a long shot was Rutgers (16-6, 7-4 B10) to be in position to win the Big Ten this year?
Futures odds were not even offered for the Scarlet Knights to win the conference at the start of the year.
With Rutgers now just a game out of first place, their Big 10 Odds are listed at +2000.
The job done by Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell this season has been as good as any in college basketball, and while the Knights are unlikely to hold off the rest of a very strong conference, they are poised to reach their first NCAA tournament since 1991.
Rutgers faces one of their biggest tests of the season to date this week when they travel to face that Terrapins team we just talked about, before closing out the week with a home game against lowly Northwestern.
Handicapping the Rest of the Big Ten Odds
17th ranked Iowa (16-6, 7-4 B10) and 22nd ranked Penn State (16-5, 6-4 B10) are the other ranked schools in this weeks AP/Coaches Poll and both teams figure to be in the thick of the hunt for an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament.
The Hawkeyes once again have been a force to deal with at home, going 6-1 in Iowa City in conference play with five of those wins coming over ranked opponents.
Like Illinois, the Hawkeyes are just a game out of first place in the Big 10 and offer great value in the conference futures market as they are currently listed at +1500 to capture the regular season crown.
The Nittany Lions have bounced back following a disappointing 2-4 start to conference play by winning four straight games of their own, including an impressive 72-63 road win over Michigan.
Despite being two games behind Michigan State, they are currently listed at +500 to win the conference championship.
Behind Penn State, there isn’t a great deal of value on a team that can make a late season push to win the conference with Wisconsin, Indiana, Purdue, Minnesota, Ohio State and Michigan all hovering around .500 in conference play and each school having some combination of these teams still on their schedule.
However, come March when the brackets are freshly printed, do not forget the quality of the teams in this conference.