2022 Big Ten Tournament Preview, Predictions, Friday Fish Fry!

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For the first time since 2019, we’ll have a full Big Ten Tournament, staged in front of fans. #LFG! the 2022 Big Ten Tournament takes place March 9-13 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse (yes, it has been renamed yet again!) in Indianapolis.

The full bracket is above, so let’s get our Nap Town on, and preview/predict these games.

Wednesday, March 9, the Junior Varsity Day of the Big Ten Tournament

No. 12 seed Northwestern (14-15, 7-13) faces No. 13 Nebraska (10-21, 4-16) in the opener at 6 p.m. ET. NU wins handily, attempting to salvage something of their season.

No. 11 Penn State (12-16, 7-13) plays No. 14 Minnesota (13-16, 4-16) 25 minutes after the conclusion of the NU invitational. I honestly do not care, in any way shape or form about this game, and I don’t think many other people do either.

PSU, who have been a tough out at times this season, move on.

Thursday March 10, the First Real Day of the Big Ten Tournament

No. 8 seed Michigan (17-13, 11-9) and No. 9 Indiana (18-12, 9-11) will kick off the second round of the tournament at 11:30 a.m. Welcome to the John Groce Invitational! Say what you want about the former Illini coach, and there isn’t much good that you can say, but he was consistent in landing himself in this game.

In this year’s edition, you have a NCAA Tournament elimination game between two bubble teams. Juwan Howard, who will face the media for the first time since completing his suspension, will get the W here.

Hopefully, he’s doing better with his anger management and no one gets threatened or punched here.

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No. 5 seed Iowa (22-9, 12-8) will then open its tournament slate against Northwestern, and I’m predicting the Cats upset them! Yes, seriously.

In Thursday’s second session, No. 7 Michigan State (20-11, 11-9) plays No. 10 seed Maryland (15-16, 7-13) at 6:30 p.m. Sparty just handled the Terps on national television, at home, yesterday and I think they’ll do the same again here. MSU was blowing out MD for most of the first half, but credit the Terrapins for making it a game late.

So weird that Maryland, despite their awful record, kept landing on showcase CBS games this season. There has to be some kind of strange unofficial record for this.  Then No. 6 Ohio State (19-10, 12-8) takes on Penn St. 25 minutes after the conclusion of the Michigan State-Maryland contest. A reeling Buckeye team, playing angry, easily dispatches PSU.

Friday March 11, the First Big Boy Day of the Big Ten Tournament

The Thursday winners will move on to play the tournament’s top four seeds on Friday in the quarterfinals. Illinois, the top seed, fresh off clinching a share of the regular season title, takes on Michigan, continuing the BTT history between these two programs.

UM rolled UI in the Groce invitational game in back to back years. One was in Chicago, in a blowout that ended the Illini NCAAs hopes that season.

The other was the infamous Wolverines going on 3 hours sleep and playing in their pajamas game, after that frightening episode with the team plane on the runway.

This time, it’s Illinois who will do the rolling. Howard has never beaten Brad Underwood; that won’t change here. In the other game, Rutgers ends Northwestern’s season, with authority.

Then comes the Big Ten Tournament Friday Fish Fry!

Yes, anyone reading this who has ever covered the Big Ten Tournament will tell you- Friday night dinner, whether it’s in Chicago or Indianapolis, is the Lenten special. It’s an offering that’s basically a bigger and slightly more glorified Long John Silver’s, and it is probably not all that much less lethal than covid-19.

It’s tasty though, no doubt, but it’s so greasy that you’ll regret indulging in it for the rest of the weekend. Catch of the day, it is not.

You might want to throw it back; especially if you’re working on counteracting another long winter in which gaining weight is rather easy.

#2 seed Wisconsin ousts newly minted record holder Tom Izzo soon after the greasy cod has been consumed en masse while #3 seed Purdue, the local option, breezes past Ohio State.  The Big Ten Network will televise the tournament’s first 10 games, with CBS once again broadcasting the semifinals and final.

Semifinal Saturday and Big Ten Tournament Title Game

Illinois will need OT to edge past Rutgers while Purdue will squeak by Wisconsin. Then Purdue bests Illinois in the title fight, a rematch of that classic heavyweight bout on MLK Day in Champaign this season.

Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Bank (TheSportsBank.Net) and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”

He has regularly appeared in WGNSports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune, and co-hosts the After Extra Time podcastFollow him on Twitter and Instagram

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