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Big Ten Opening Round (and others): Picks, How to Watch, & Open Thread

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NCAA Football: Northern Illinois at Nebraska Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten Tournament kicks off today alongside other upper echelon conferences. The Big East, Big XII, Pac-12, and SEC all have their first sets of games going while the ACC started yesterday.

We’ve also got games in the hopper with no fans in the seats due to COVID-19, though the neutral site games between in the MAC & Big West tournaments don’t begin until tomorrow.

All lines courtesy of William Hill

As for the Big Ten, the Minnesota Golden Gophers and Northwestern Wildcats kick things off at 5:00p this evening in Indianapolis. With just Northwestern coming off a win against PSU (and giving Iowa a path to the 5 seed) while Daniel Oturu and company blew the brakes off of Nebraska. Minnesota’s beaten NW twice before by a combined 35 points. While +300 is always a tasty underdog bet, there’s a reason Minny beat them twice: they’re better. Minnesota -8

While we’re at it, let’s go ahead and take over 136. In the prior two games, they’ve combined for 145 and 140 points.

The Nebraska Cornhuskers are so depleted, they’re bringing football players on their trip to Indianapolis. The jokes write themselves at this point so I’m not even going to try. They’ll take on the Indiana Hoosiers at approximately 7:30p, depending on how many reviews and free throws are taken in the last couple minutes of the NW/Minnesota game. But Indiana laying 14 is a huge number for a team who’s won exactly 0 conference by that margin or more. Hold your nose and take Nebraska +14.

For the broader Big Ten, Michigan is the tastiest line at 10/1. In a vacuum. They’re 2-0 against Rutgers this season but scored 69 and 60 points in each of their wins. If we’re feeling crazy, a desperate Purdue squad at 28/1 but have to go through up to 3 top 10-ish KenPom teams in OSU (8), MSU (7), and Maryland (11).

Defense (#1 in conference) and 3-point shooting (#3) is the name of the game in Indy, which is why MSU is prohibitive favorites at +200. Wisconsin (+600) is the only team in the top 5 of both, with the #5 conference defense and #2 3-point shooting. But my betting morality keeps me from laying a penny on either of these two teams so let’s lean into the #9 (Michigan) & #10 (Purdue) seeds in the conference for combined 19/1 odds.

As for the rest of the games (and tournaments) today, my favorite bets are:

  • Utah +130 (over Oregon State)
  • Washington +200 (over Arizona)
  • Oklahoma State -6.5 (over Iowa State)
  • UNC 25/1 to win the ACC tournament
  • Rhode Island +850 to win the Atlantic 10 tournament
  • Butler +600 to win the Big East tournament

Stay safe out there.

The numbers alongside each team is their KenPom ranking. Games in bold are being played at the home team’s home arena. I’m like 90% sure I allocated ESPN+ games appropriately.

3/11 Conference Tournament Games

Away Home Conference Time (CDT) Channel City, State Arena
Away Home Conference Time (CDT) Channel City, State Arena
188 Sacramento St.  272 Weber St. Big Sky 10:30 AM Pluto TV Boise, ID CenturyLink Arena
103 Miami FL  74 Clemson ACC 11:00 AM  ESPN  Greensboro, NC Greensboro Coliseum
261 Saint Joseph's  173 George Mason Atlantic 10 12:00 PM ESPN+ Brooklyn, NY Barclays Center
108 Pittsburgh  51 N.C. State ACC 1:00 PM  ESPN  Greensboro, NC Greensboro Coliseum
324 Idaho  159 Southern Utah Big Sky 1:00 PM Pluto TV Boise, ID CenturyLink Arena
112 Utah  87 Oregon St. Pac-12 2:00 PM  Pac-12 Networks  Las Vegas, NV T-Mobile Arena
255 Fordham  231 George Washington Atlantic 10 2:30 PM ESPN+ Brooklyn, NY Barclays Center
295 Idaho St.  212 Northern Arizona Big Sky 3:30 PM Pluto TV Boise, ID CenturyLink Arena
53 Washington  20 Arizona Pac-12 4:30 PM  Pac-12 Networks  Las Vegas, NV T-Mobile Arena
128 Northwestern  29 Minnesota Big Ten 5:00 PM  Big Ten Network  Indianapolis, IN Bankers Life Fieldhouse
296 Texas A&M Corpus Chris  285 Northwestern St. Southland 5:00 PM ESPN+ Katy, TX Leonard E. Merrell Center
346 Delaware St.  276 North Carolina Central MEAC 5:00 PM ESPN+ Norfolk, VA Norfolk Scope Arena
63 Georgetown  71 St. John's Big East 6:00 PM  Fox Sports 1  New York, NY Madison Square Garden
89 Iowa St.  52 Oklahoma St. Big XII 6:00 PM  ESPNU  Kansas City, MO Sprint Center
104 Georgia  94 Mississippi SEC 6:00 PM  SEC Network  Nashville, TN Bridgestone Arena
142 Georgia Southern  116 Georgia St. Sun Belt 6:00 PM ESPN+ Atlanta, GA GSU Sports Arena
176 Boston College  60 Notre Dame ACC 6:00 PM  ESPN2  Greensboro, NC Greensboro Coliseum
197 Florida Atlantic  162 Old Dominion C-USA 6:00 PM ESPN+ Frisco, TX Ford Center at The Star
262 Manhattan  148 Siena MAAC 6:00 PM ESPN+ Atlantic City, NJ Boardwalk Hall
196 Rice  150 FIU  C-USA 6:30 PM ESPN+ Frisco, TX Ford Center at The Star
167 Boston University  118 Colgate Patriot League 6:30 PM  CBS Sports Network  Hamilton, NY Cotterell Court
172 Appalachian St.  93 Texas St. Sun Belt 7:00 PM ESPN+ San Marcos, TX Strahan Coliseum
350 Howard  286 North Carolina A&T MEAC 7:00 PM ESPN+ Norfolk, VA Norfolk Scope Arena
152 Nebraska  39 Indiana Big Ten 7:25 PM  Big Ten Network  Indianapolis, IN Bankers Life Fieldhouse
260 McNeese St.  247 Lamar Southland 7:30 PM ESPN+ Katy, TX Leonard E. Merrell Center
70 North Carolina  56 Syracuse ACC 8:00 PM  ESPN2  Greensboro, NC Greensboro Coliseum
92 Kansas St.  83 TCU Big XII 8:00 PM  ESPNU  Kansas City, MO Sprint Center
171 California  37 Stanford Pac-12 8:00 PM  Pac-12 Networks  Las Vegas, NV T-Mobile Arena
96 DePaul  43 Xavier Big East 8:30 PM  Fox Sports 1  New York, NY Madison Square Garden
210 UTSA  190 UAB C-USA 8:30 PM ESPN+ Frisco, TX Ford Center at The Star
168 Vanderbilt  49 Arkansas SEC 8:30 PM  SEC Network  Nashville, TN Bridgestone Arena
221 Iona  193 Saint Peter's MAAC 8:30 PM ESPN+ Atlantic City, NJ Boardwalk Hall
182 UTEP  147 Marshall C-USA 9:00 PM ESPN+ Frisco, TX Ford Center at The Star
135 Washington St.  32 Colorado Pac-12 10:30 PM  Pac-12 Networks  Las Vegas, NV T-Mobile Arena