If the Big Ten tournament matches its regular season for drama, four days in Chicago could have more high-level theatrics than any basketball league tournament in, well, ever.
Four Big Ten teams could rank in the top 10 this week and all four are looking for favorable NCAA tournament landing spots. Indiana could earn the NCAA tournament’s overall No. 1 seed and play its potential Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games in Indianapolis. Michigan and Michigan State could open at Auburn Hills, Mich. Ohio State has a chance to debut in Dayton, Ohio.
You also have the king of the clutch shots — Wisconsin — which has sank three ultra-late 3-pointers against Big Ten competition to either win games (Penn State) or send them into overtime (Iowa, Michigan). Iowa is the league’s most dangerous underdog and needs to a good performance to earn an NCAA berth. Minnesota has slumped and fans have soured on Coach Tubby Smith. Illinois and Northwestern are playing in their home state. Purdue, Nebraska and Penn State are dangerous because they compete on every possession.
There’s plenty to write about the match-ups this week, so we’ll save the breakdowns for later. But here’s how the tournament breaks down with times and television information:
8. Illinois vs. 9. Minnesota, 11 a.m. (BTN)
5. Michigan vs. 12. Penn State, 1:30 p.m. (BTN)
7. Purdue vs. 10 Nebraska, 5:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
6. Iowa vs. 11. Northwestern, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
1. Indiana vs. Illinois/Minnesota winner, 11 a.m. (ESPN)
4. Wisconsin vs. Michigan/Penn State winner, 1:30 p.m. (ESPN)
2. Ohio State vs. Purdue/Nebraska winner, 5:30 p.m. (BTN)
3. Michigan State vs. Iowa/Northwestern winner, 8 p.m. (BTN)
Indiana/Illinois/Minnesota vs. Wisconsin/Michigan/Penn State, 12:40 p.m. (CBS)
Ohio State/Purdue/Nebraska vs. Michigan State/Iowa/Northwestern, 3:15 p.m. (CBS)
Big Ten Championship, 2:30 p.m.