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2016 Big Ten Tournament Preview and How to Watch

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Who is going to win it all in Indianapolis?

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We're about 24 hours from kicking off this year's Big Ten Tournament in front of the friends and family of Illinois and Minnesota players. For the second year there will be a Wednesday session, and you can go for as little as $6 if you want to watch Minnesota play Illinois followed by Nebraska and Rutgers. Yes, by certain definitions I guess this can be college basketball, but in reality you have two bad teams (Illinois and Nebraska) that get to play two awful teams. Rutgers was historically bad, but salvaged a victory over Minnesota because the Golden Gophers were down to five scholarship players this past weekend. That is who they bring to Indianapolis.

First, here is your schedule again:

Wednesday:

#12 Illinois (13-18, 5-13) vs. #13 Minnesota (8-22, 2-16) 4:30pm, ESPN2

#11 Nebraska (14-17, 6-12) vs. #14 Rutgers (7-24, 1-17) 25 minutes after, BTN

Thursday:

#8 Michigan (19-11, 10-8) vs. #9 Northwestern (20-11, 8-10) Noon, BTN

#5 Iowa (21-9, 12-6) vs. Illinois-Minnesota winner 25 minutes after, BTN

#7 Ohio State (19-12, 11-7) vs. #10 Penn State (16-15, 7-11) 6:30pm, ESPN2

#6 Wisconsin (20-11, 12-6) vs. Nebraska-Rutgers winner 25 minutes after, ESPN2

Friday:

#1 Indiana (25-6, 15-3) vs. Northwestern-Michigan winner Noon, ESPN

#4 Purdue (24-7, 12-6) vs. Iowa-Illinois-Minnesota winner 25 minutes after, ESPN

#2 Michigan State (26-5, 13-5) vs. Ohio State-Penn State winner 6:30pm, BTN

#3 Maryland (24-7, 12-6) vs. Wisconsin-Nebraska-Rutgers winner 25 minutes after, BTN

Saturday:

Indiana-Michigan-Northwestern winner vs. Purdue-Iowa-Illinois-Minnesota winner 1pm, CBS

Michigan State-Penn State-Ohio State vs. Maryland-Wisconsin-Nebraska-Rutgers winner 25 minutes after, CBS

Sunday:

Championship game 3pm, CBS

Let's try to go game by game through this thing.

Wednesday

#12 Illinois (13-18, 5-13) vs. #13 Minnesota (8-22, 2-16) 4:30pm, ESPN2

Minnesota was bad before they were down to five scholarship guys, zero scholarship guards, and scored only 15 points in the first half at Rutgers. Now they get to play an Illinois team that already beat them twice. Yes, the Illini won in double overtime in Minneapolis, but when we last saw the Gophers they lost by 23 to Rutgers. They trailed 23-2 at one point. I don't even have words for that.

Illinois is certainly not good, but Minnesota can barely cobble together a complete roster for this game. The Pick: Illinois

#11 Nebraska (14-17, 6-12) vs. #14 Rutgers (7-24, 1-17) 25 minutes after, BTN

Nebraska only went 6-12 in Big Ten play, but they beat Rutgers twice by a combined 60 points. Their win in Piscataway by 34 was the season low point for the Scarlet Knight before Purdue went in and rocked them by 50. The Cornhuskers have lost five in a row, but a third game against Rutgers is just what the doctor ordered to end a winning streak. Rutgers and Minnesota in its current state might be the worst Big Ten teams of all time. The Pick: Nebraska

Thursday:

#8 Michigan (19-11, 10-8) vs. #9 Northwestern (20-11, 8-10) Noon, BTN

This is when the real tournament begins, as Wednesday is basically a sideshow and a naked cash grab by the Big Ten. Would anyone really object to dropping the bottom two teams in the standings each year and sending only 12 to the conference tournament? This game should be fascinating because you have Michigan fighting for its Bubble life and Northwestern trying to make a case for the NIT. A victory for Northwestern means a 21-win season, something that has happened the following number of times:

#null-set

Michigan won 72-63 in Ann Arbor a few weeks ago over Northwestern, but that is their lone win in five games since beating Purdue. I kind of don't trust the Wolverines right now. The Pick: Northwestern

#5 Iowa (21-9, 12-6) vs. #12 Illinois (14-18, 5-13) winner 25 minutes after, BTN

Did Iowa beat Michigan because it was righting the ship or because the Wolverines are flailing? The Hawkeyes pissed away a conference title by losing 5 of 7 down the stretch The only wins were at Michigan (decent) and by 4 at home over Minnesota (uh oh). They did have little trouble winning at Illinois by 12, but that was before the 2-5 closing stretch. They should win, but Kendrick Nunn and Malcolm Hill can always get hot. The Pick: Iowa

#7 Ohio State (19-12, 11-7) vs. #10 Penn State (16-15, 7-11) 6:30pm, ESPN2

One of the better teams in the second half of the Big Ten season was Penn State. They were 5-3 in their final 8, including wins over Indiana and Iowa. Ohio State beat exactly no one in getting to 11 conference wins. Really. They were 11-0 against the teams below them in the standings and 0-7 against teams ahead of them. This included a 66-46 win over Penn State at home. That was before Jae'Sean Tate got hurt, however. The Buckeyes are still better. The Pick: Ohio State

#6 Wisconsin (20-11, 12-6) vs. #11 Nebraska (15-17, 6-12) winner 25 minutes after, ESPN2

Wisconsin is playing very good basketball as long as they don't have to play Purdue or Michigan State (road games only). Among their 11-2 finish was a 72-61 win over the Cornhuskers in Madison. That should carry over here, as Nebraska's run against Rutgers is over. The Pick: Wisconsin

Friday:

#1 Indiana (25-6, 15-3) vs. #9 Northwestern (21-11, 8-10) Noon, ESPN

Is this where Northwestern's long suffering finally ends, as they plow through four teams in four days to take the automatic bid and kick down the door to the NCAA Tournament? No. It is not. I like Northwestern, but it is pretty clear how their season goes. They are 18-1 against sub-100 teams and 2-10 against the top 100 (beating only Virginia Tech and Wisconsin). Indiana is just playing too well to lose this. The Pick: Indiana

#4 Purdue (24-7, 12-6) vs. #5 Iowa (22-9, 12-6) 25 minutes after, ESPN

The old adage is that it is hard to beat a team three times in one season. Well, we had better hope it is true. The problem has not been the first half. In both games Purdue outscored the Hawkeyes 72-53. The problem is that Iowa completely dominated the second half of both games to the tune of 100-62. Of the teams that caused problems with the press, Iowa did it the most, so I am very concerned. Purdue is playing better since the last meeting and Iowa is playing worse, but is it enough? The Pick: Purdue (barely)

#2 Michigan State (26-5, 13-5) vs. #7 Ohio State (20-12, 11-7 winner 6:30pm, BTN

These teams already played twice in the last three games of the regular season and Michigan State won easily in both by a total of 34 points. I haven't seen anything that makes me think otherwise, especially with an extra day of rest for MSU. The Pick: Michigan State

#3 Maryland (24-7, 12-6) vs. #6 Wisconsin (21-11, 12-6) winner 25 minutes after, BTN

Maryland is 15-1 at home this year, but only 8-6 away from College Park. They are also 0-2 in games played in the state of Indiana. Let's also not forget they lost at Minnesota. Even in the road wins they have a Nebraska and Ohio State they did now play particularly well. They won by 3 in Madison, but Wisconsin turned the tables to win by 13 in College Park. I think the Badgers win the third meeting, too. The Pick: Wisconsin

Saturday

#1 Indiana (26-6, 15-3) vs. Purdue (25-7, 12-6) 1pm, CBS

For the first time since the inaugural Big Ten Tournament in 1998 Purdue and Indiana meet on a neutral floor. There is not a Purdue fan alive that doesn't want a rematch, preferably without Ted Valentine, who was abjectly terrible both ways in Bloomington during the only meeting. The problem is that this Indiana team feels like one of destiny where everything is going right for them, while for Purdue, it seems like when one thing goes wrong, it avalanches like it did in Bloomington. This isn't a home game, but even a neutral site game in Indy will have a pro-IU crowd. Like the first time around, I don't have a good feeling here. If TV Teddy shows up a feel even worse. The Pick: Indiana

# 2 Michigan State (27-5, 13-5) vs. #6 Wisconsin (22-11, 12-6) 25 minutes after, CBS

Michigan State is rolling right now, losing only at Purdue by a point in overtime since January 20th. This is a team where three of their five conference losses were by a point in the final seconds. They easily could have gone 16-2 losing only those two Iowa games. They handled Wisconsin pretty easily on February 18 and I think they do so again. The Pick: Michigan State

Sunday

#1 Indiana (27-6, 15-3) vs. #2 Michigan State (28-5, 13-5) 3pm, CBS

Only one team really beat Indiana all year, and that was Michigan State. The Hoosiers choked in State College and struggled against Wisconsin's physical play. The Spartans blew them out in the second half in East Lansing. We all know that Purdue is going to try and get physical with them if there is a Saturday meeting, so can Indiana when against tow physical opponents on consecutive days? I don't think so. The Pick: Michigan State