Big Ten Basketball 2021 Conference Odds & Betting Tips
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Big Ten basketball is back and strong as ever entering a new college basketball season. The conference is top-heavy with multiple national championship hopefuls, Wooden Award contenders and proven rosters. Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Illinois were all ranked in the top 10 early in the 2020-21 season and look like heavyweights yet again.
Those are the four main contenders for a season in which the Big Ten is loaded at the top and maybe a little weaker in the middle - there's a huge disparity on the college basketball board after Illinois, with Indiana far behind in the No. 5 slot.
The Big Ten hasn't produced a men's basketball national champion since Michigan State cut down the nets in 2000. We'll see if a furious Big Ten title race can set the stage for a serious NCAA Tournament run when March Madness arrives.
RELATED: Check out our college basketball expert picks.
Big Ten Basketball Odds To Win The Conference
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The Hawkeyes improved to No. 3 in the country early this season and have major aspirations with Fran McCaffery entering his 11th season in Iowa City. This is by far his best team on paper with almost every key piece returning, including senior center Luka Garza, a national player of the year candidate.
Garza is a Wooden Award betting favorite after averaging 23.9 points and 9.8 rebounds last season. Four-star recruit and coach's son Pat McCaffery also joins the Hawkeye lineup as a true freshman having sat out last year due to health issues. The 6-foot-9 forward is already averaging 11.5 points as an immediate impact player this season.
The Hawkeyes were +265 to win the Big Ten early in the regular season as Iowa tries to take its first conference championship since 1979. Once the conference schedule kicks in, things should get interesting.
The Badgers took a share of the Big Ten title a year ago, winning a co-championship alongside Maryland and Michigan State. They last won a solo title in 2015 and figure to be right in the hunt until season's end, listed at +350 to start the year.
Wisconsin is an experienced team with five seniors and a deep bench. Guard D'Mitrik Trice and forward Micah Potter are among the standouts here, but this is a complete team without any one star player who will make or break their season. The Badgers don't play a ranked opponent until a Christmas Day game at Michigan State, at which time they should be more than ready to make a run at another banner.
The Spartans lose starting point guard and national player of the year contender Cassius Winston, but Tom Izzo has more than enough to work with for his 26th season with the Spartans.
Marquette transfer forward Joey Hauser is already thriving with 12 points and 11.7 rebounds per game early this season. Point guard Rocket Watts gained significant experience as a freshman and steps into the starting role, while Michigan State is also hoping for big steps from forwards Aaron Henry, Gabe Brown and Malik Hall.
The Spartans won a share of the regular season title last season (there was no conference tournament) and looked poised for another deep March Madness run, listed at +355 to win the Big Ten. This is one of Izzo's deeper, more balanced teams, and the Spartans proved they're for real with a nonconference win at Duke. While several of Izzo's eight Final Four squads started slow and evolved into contenders late in the conference season, these Spartans look ready to compete for championships from the jump.
The Illini have had plenty of chances over the years, but they're still looking for their first conference title since 2005. They missed out on a share of the title by one game with a 13-7 conference record last year and are hoping to get over the hump in 2021.
Ayo Dosunmu is the big man on campus having decided to forgo the NBA Draft and return to Champaign for his junior season. The 6-foot-5 guard is the unquestioned leader and already averaging 23.8 points and 7.3 rebounds this season. Four-star recruit Adam Miller is also making big contributions as a true freshman with 14.5 points per night.
This is a dangerous Illinois team listed fourth on the early betting board at +360. The Big Ten title race should be a great one, and there's no reason the Illini can't see it through to the end.
Other Teams to Consider
Indiana: Archie Miller has a lot of talent to work with and only loses one starter in Justin Smith. Indiana also brings in five-star freshman point guard Khristian Lander. Forward Trayce Jackson-Davis will lead a compelling Hoosiers squad with a very high ceiling.
Rutgers: The Knights were ranked to enter the season for the first time since 1978 coming off their best campaign in 20 years. Almost every major contributor returns, and Rutgers should play with confidence knowing it can finally compete with the top Big Ten programs. They are no longer an easy W on the conference schedule.
Maryland: Mark Turgeon's squad isn't a popular pick despite taking a share of the title last season. The Terps lose Anthony Cowan Jr. and Jalen Smith, while five players also transferred elsewhere this offseason. It's a short bench, but the Terps are hoping guards Eric Ayala and Aaron Wiggins can lead the way to contention.