2013 Big Ten Tournament Preview

Where and when: Thursday through Sunday, the United Center, Chicago, IL

Last year: Despite losing the final two games of the regular season, Michigan State earned a national No. 1 seed by sweeping through the Big Ten tourney. Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan had all gone through the regular season at 13-5.

This year: Indiana captured the No. 1 seed in the B1GT without the need of tiebreakers. They finished a game ahead of Ohio State and Michigan State. At one point Michigan was 7-1 in conference play, but fell to 5-5 down the stretch.

The favorite: The Hoosiers, in most rational circles around the nation, are considered to be the best team in the country. They have the nation's most efficient offense and the No. 15 defense.

Offensively they're the 3rd best 3-pt shooting team in the country, the 6th best at crashing the boards, and the 7th best at getting to the line. If their interior game is their weakest unit from a statistical perspective, opponents are in serious trouble.

Sophomore Cody Zeller had what was one of the most underrated seasons in the country. He has the 2nd highest offensive rating in the Big Ten among players who could be considered high volume (>24% of his team's shots). He was top seven in the conference in offensive rebounding %, defensive rebounding %, free throw rate, and he drew more fouls than any player in the conference.

On the defensive end they failed to be in the national top 10 largely because they are only average at forcing turnovers and keeping teams off the offensive glass. Should they fall before the finals, it will likely be because they allowed their opponents too many possessions.

The contender: Ohio State and Michigan State are pretty much a coin flip in this spot, but I'll go with the Buckeyes because they've won five straight entering the post season.

As has become typical under Thad Matta, they have an elite defense. Last year they were No. 2 nationally, and this year they are No. 8. They aren't really exceptional in any one facet of defense, but rather they're just really good across the board.

On offense they make up for some shooting issues by taking care of the ball. And then they look to Deshaun Thomas. He takes almost 33% of his team's shots when he's on the floor. He gets carefree with his 3-ball, but he's a consistent menace to defenses and has scored in double figures in every game this season. He's also played fewer than 30 minutes in only three games this season.

The dark horse: Illinois has lost three of four, but any time a team takes more than 41% of their shots from the arc, they have the potential to get hot and make a run. The bizarre thing about their reliance on the 3-ball is that they aren't a very good shooting team, and are currently 235th in 3-pt%.

The other thing they do well is that they take care of the ball. Maximize their possessions, knock down some threes, and cut down the nets. That's their recipe.