Big Ten Basketball

With Oddsmaker Nick Bogdanovich


When you talk about the most hyped college basketball conferences, the ACC with Duke and North Carolina, and the Big East with several Eastern powers are generally at the top of the list. ESPN is based on the East Coast. The ACC has a long history of success to such a degree that Duke and North Carolina could almost be called 'America's Teams' like the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL.

The Big Ten is usually third on that list. They're on TV a lot...and they do have consistent representation in the Final Four over the years. I have to say though that THIS YEAR'S BIG TEN may supplant the ACC in betting interest by quite a good bit.

That's because:

*North Carolina has fallen off the pace a bit, and Duke literally has nobody who's seen as a threat to unseat them at the top of the ACC. It's not shaping up as an entertaining year in that league.

*The Big Ten has several quality teams who are likely to be forces during MARCH MADNESS.

*The Big Ten has significant TV exposure with their ESPN contract and their own Big Ten Network which is seen on cable systems all over the country.

*Las Vegas has several sharps and media types from the Midwest (particularly Chicago), which means oddsmakers really have to stay on their toes to avoid being a step behind the market.

Here's how the Big Ten fares in the most recent Associated Press rankings:

2...Ohio State
18...Michigan State

That may not seem all that great. But, it's important to remember that the rankings are heavily influenced by won-lost records...and the Big Ten powers tend to schedule tough early in the season to get on TV. Also, some of these teams have run into each other already.
If you look at respected Power Ratings, it's a different story. I won't post my personal Power Ratings because I use those with my employer Cal-Neva. Here are a few you can find on the web:

*Ken Pomeroy's rankings at have Ohio State, Purdue, and Wisconsin all in the top nine, and everyone but Minnesota in the top 25. Note that Minnesota has had some personnel issues that hurt them early, but create the possibility to close well.

*Jeff Sagarin's rankings at in the sports section have Ohio State and Purdue in the top five, with Wisconsin and Illinois also in the top 18.

I personally have the league in high regard in my own numbers. I should also point out that Michigan isn't concerned to be in the top half, yet they just took Kansas to overtime this past Sunday in a national TV game (that you may have missed because it was on at the same time as Packers/Eagles). Northwestern just took Michigan State right down to the wire in a recent TV game too. Penn State BEAT Michigan State this past Saturday.

So, that's SIX teams in the AP top 30, and three more teams who are clearly dangerous. That only leaves Indiana and Iowa for everyone to beat up on!

Come March, this is going to be a battle tested conference with tons of big game experience. As long as they haven't beat each other up too badly, I expect the Big 10 to be a major factor in the Dance. And, that means YOU should be studying them very closely RIGHT NOW!

On tap the next few days:

Wisconsin at Michigan State on ESPN (big game!)
Illinois at Penn State on the Big 10 Network

Ohio State at Michigan on the Big 10 Network (classic rivalry)
Northwestern at Iowa on the Big 10 Network

Purdue at Minnesota on ESPN2

Northwestern at Michigan State on the Big 10 Network
Illinois at Wisconsin on the Big 10 Network (big game!)
Penn State at Ohio State on the Big 10 Network
Michigan at Indiana on the Big 10 Network

Iowa at Minnesota on the Big 10 Network

I don't want to sound like an ad for cable. But, if you can't watch the games on our big screen TV's at the sportsbooks here in Nevada, you can very easily make the Big 10 one of your 'local' conferences of interest simply by making sure you have that channel on cable. In some past boring years, that would have been torture. This year, it's a business expense that will help you be as informed as possible about a conference likely to play a major role in your life over the next three months.

As an oddsmaker, I have to know EVERY conference as well as avid fans of that conference do! It's a big challenge. But, you regulars know that college basketball is my favorite sport to handicap and bet. I could watch games around the clock and never get tired of it. Now that YOU are done with college football, it's the perfect time to let me introduce you to the fun and profits of college hoops.

You can purchase my game day BEST BETS a few hours before tip off here at the website. Or, sign up for the rest of the season at a great rate. I've got a combination package that will get you football and basketball through the Super Bowl that may be just what you're looking for. If you have any questions, call the office at 1-877-822-2276

It's time to get serious about basketball. I'll be happy to show you day in and day out in the colleges and the pro's that the best information will always come to you DIRECT FROM NEVADA!

This article is part of the VSM MASTERS SERIES presented by For more information on NICK BOGDANOVICH'S handicapping packages, call 1-877-822-2276.


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