The Big Ten Tournament schedule is ready to begin on Thursday afternoon. Within the Big Ten Tournament schedule are a few key match-ups that could lead to interesting results by the time the semifinals come around on Saturday. There are three games taking place on Thursday to determine which three teams advance to the quarterfinals scheduled for Friday. All 11 Big Ten schools make it into their conference tournament, even Indiana, with a conference record of just 3-15 in the 2010-11 season.
The Ohio State Buckeyes won the regular season Big Ten title, achieving not only the No. 1 seed in the 2011 Tournament, but the overall No. 1 ranking in both major college basketball polls. Now they will have to defend that ranking and work toward clinching one of the four No. 1 seeds in the 2011 NCAA Tournament. It seems likely that Ohio State will get one of them no matter how they perform in the Big Ten Tournament, but nobody ever wants to leave those things to chance.
In addition to Ohio State, it seems that there are also two other major threats to win the Conference. Purdue finished the regular season with a 25-6 overall record, and Wisconsin finished with a 23-7 overall record. They are both heading to the NCAA Tournament, but would love to do so with a Big Ten Championship in tow.
Those aren’t the only teams with a shot at getting the automatic invite, though, as the Big Ten has some very tough teams in Michigan, Illinois, and Michigan State just to name a few. Those three schools finished the regular season with 9-9 records and look to add to their win totals this week.
Three games will be played on the first day of the Big Ten Tournament, opening with Northwestern vs. Minnesota at 2:30 p.m. EST. The Michigan State vs. Iowa game will start 25 minutes after the first game ends, and then the Penn State vs. Indiana game will be played at 7:30 p.m. EST. The first two games will be broadcast on ESPN2, and then the nightcap will be on the Big Ten Network. The winner of the Northwestern/Minnesota game will play Ohio State at noon EST on Friday, March 11, so it will be a very tough week for both schools. The other teams on that side of the bracket will be in the No. 4 vs. No. 5 game, consisting of Michigan vs. Illinois on Friday.
The winner of the Michigan State vs. Iowa game will play Purdue at 6:30 p.m. EST on Friday, and the winner of the Penn State vs. Indiana game will play Wisconsin on Friday minutes with a start time 25 minutes after the Purdue game. A likely semifinal match-up on one side could be Purdue vs. Wisconsin, with an Ohio State vs. Michigan game possible on the other side. Those semifinal games will be played Saturday on CBS, and it all leads to the 2011 Big Ten Championship Game at 3:30 p.m. EST on Sunday, March 13.
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