NCAAB: Previewing the 2024 Big Ten Basketball Tournament

darren cooper
Darren Cooper
NCAA Basketball Sports News


  • The Big Ten basketball tournament opens Wednesday at the Target Center in Minnesota with a pair of preliminary round games.
  • Michigan State has won the most tournaments in conference history with six, the last coming in 2019.
  • After finishing 10-10 in the Big Ten, Michigan State is the eighth seed and will open up with Minnesota on Thursday at noon.

For Michigan State and Michigan, March Madness starts in Minnesota.

Both teams lost in their regular season finales Sunday, State losing a heartbreaker to Indiana by a point, the Wolverines getting outclassed by Nebraska.

Michigan State still projects as safe to make the NCAA Tournament when the field is announced Sunday. Michigan, the 14th seed, would need a miracle run to get in.

March is one of the best times of year for sports betting in Michigan. There’s wall to wall college basketball every day with week with conference tournaments and DraftKings and Caesars will have markets on every NCAA Tournament game.

But first, Minnesota in March.

What Do the Oddsmakers Say? 

No surprise, both DraftKings and Caesars have Purdue as the favorite to win the Big Ten tournament. DraftKings has the Boilermakers at even money (+100), while Caesars has -105.

DraftKings then lists Illinois (+300), Nebraska (+700) and then Michigan State at +1000. Caesars follows the same pattern but with Michigan State at +1100.

Remember, Michigan State finished in a three-way tie for sixth in the Big Ten, and got the eighth seed based on tiebreakers. Purdue’s only losses in the Big Ten this year were to Northwestern, Nebraska and Ohio State.

Michigan State On Downswing 

While the latest Joe Lunardi projection has Michigan State as a nine seed in the NCAA Tournament, the Spartans aren’t exactly setting the world on fire. They’ve lost four out of five entering the Big Ten tournament, but they did probably seal a bid with a win over Northwestern last week.

Bad starts have been the theme for State lately. They dug big holes against Northwestern and Indiana, and had to fight back each time.

The Spartans first-round game against Minnesota is no gimme. Minnesota will have the home crowd, but they’ve also lost four out of their last five. The two teams split a pair of regular season meetings. Michigan State won by 10 in East Lansing, but lost a nine-point lead on the road and fell to the Golden Gophers 59-56.

Michigan State has reached 25 NCAA Tournaments in a row. 

Who Will Win the Big Ten Tournament?

You can see the respect Michigan State is getting from the sportsbooks, and that’s because if the seeds hold, they’d get Purdue in the quarterfinals. State played Purdue tough, two weeks ago, losing by six.

Purdue is still the class of the Big Ten, with the most conference wins for any school since 1977 (but that’s because we play more conference games now). The Boilermakers have won five in a row and feature Wooden Award candidate Zach Edey.

This is probably the end of the Juwan Howard era at Michigan. The Wolverines are 8-23, which is the most losses in program history and they finished last in the Big Ten for the first time in 57 years. Michigan opens against Penn State, a team that beat them by six in the regular season. 
The Wolverines are the ultimate underdog here, but weirder things have happened. They don’t call it March Madness for nothing.

Born and raised in Louisiana, Darren Cooper has a fond appreciation for bayous, Mardi Gras beads and the sports betting industry. Darren has worked for multiple print and online publications since 1998, primarily as a sports columnist in the Northeast. He’s covered a Super Bowl (it was a blowout), the World Series (same) and the NBA Draft (man, those guys are tall). For the last few years he’s dug deep into the sports gambling industry as it exploded across America, learning how the legal sausage is made and how while all the sportsbooks look the same, they all have different identities and styles. He’s learned to always bet within his means -- and take the under. When not in front of his computer creating, Darren spends time with his three boys. He runs, reads and is always looking for the next big thing to write about.