It is a week early and will likely be lightly attended, but the Big Ten Tournament is headed to New York City and Madison Square Garden this week. The conclusion of the final game tonight between Iowa and Northwestern set the schedule beginning Wednesday at the World’s Most Overrated Arena.
Game 1: 12 Seed Iowa vs. 13 Seed Illinois - 5:30pm - BTN
These two played a memorable 104-97 overtime Iowa win at Illinois on January 11, so I guess it could be somewhat entertaining.
Game 2: 11 Seed Minnesota vs. 14 Seed Rutgers - 8pm - BTN
This game is punishment. It does not need to exist. Minnesota won the regular season meeting back in December 89-67, but that was back when they were ranked and at full strength. Do not watch and I hope there is not a soul in MSG aside from the teams and officials so we never have to have this tournament there again.
Game 3: 8 Seed Maryland vs. 9 Seed Wisconsin - Noon - BTN
Wisconsin lost at Maryland 68-63 on February 4th but the Badgers have been pplaying much better since. They did go 4-2 down the stretch, upsetting Purdue and taking Michigan State to the brink. Maryland has struggled to win anywhere away from home.
Game 4: 5 Seed Michigan vs. Illinois-Iowa winner - 2:30pm - BTN
The Wolverines closed by winning 7 of 8, but the one loss, at Northwestern, cost them a double bye. This should be a relatively easy win for them regardless of opponent. They beat Iowa by 7 and 25 and Illinois by 10.
Game 5: 7 Seed Penn State vs. 10 Seed Northwestern - 6:30pm - BTN
Just a week ago Penn State was hoping for a strong finish to get an at large bid. They then lost at Purdue by 3, home to Michigan by 9, and at Nebraska by 12. They lost by 9 at Northwestern, but won by 15 in Happy Valley. A win for the Nittany Lions sets up round 3 vs. Ohio State, and the Buckeyes do not want that.
Game 6: 6 Seed Indiana vs. Rutgers-Minnesota winner - 9pm - BTN
Purdue gets the winner of this game, so that means a second game with Indiana most likely. Purdue and Indiana have not played in the Big Ten Tournament since the original event in 1998. Indiana swept Minnesota 75-71 in Minneapois and 80-56 in Bloomington. They won by 22 at Rutgers.
Game 7: 1 Seed Michigan State vs. Wisconsin-Maryland winner - Noon - BTN
The Spartans both teams twice and swept all four meetings, but the road affairs were much dicier than the games in East Lansing. Michigan State needed a big comeback to win in College Park after blasting Maryland by 30 in East Lansing. Another fun fact: the No. 1 seed has lost its first Big Ten Tournament game each of the past two seasons, but both times Michigan was the team that won.
Game 8: 4 Seed Nebraska vs. Michigan-Iowa-Illinois winner - 2:30pm - BTN
Nebraska could make the committee think very hard about htem. They won a whopping 13 games in Big Ten play, and normally that is more than a lock. They only have three wins against the top 2 tiers., however, and just one (MIchigan at home) from tier 1. If the Wolverines get upset by the Illinois-Iowa winner that is a worst case scenario for Nebraska because the Wolverines would likely fall out of tier 1 for them and Nebraska would not get another shot at one until Saturday. Is 22-9 and 13-5 enough?
Game 9: 2 Seed Ohio State vs. Northwestern-Penn State winner - 6:30pm - BTN
Ohio State won by 6 at Northwestern but was swept by Penn State, costing them the league title. Penn State is the infamous bad matchup for the Buckeyes, so I am sure Ohio State does not want to see them again. The second loss was quite convincing, too. As for Northwestern, they have struggled so much to finish games I don’t trust them to get here.
Game 10: 3 Seed Purdue vs. Indiana-Minnesota-Rutgers winner - 9pm - BTN
Purdue will be the last team to take the floor in New York, giving us maximum rest for Vince Edwards and Co. It also seems like it will mean a second game against Indiana. The Hoosiers have been so up and down this year. They have plays Duke, Michigan State, Purdue, and Ohio State tough, but they also lost famously to Fort Wayne and Indiana State. You just don’t know what to expect from them.
Game 11: Michigan State-Wisconsin-Maryland winner vs. Nebraska-Michigan-Iowa-Illinois winner - 2pm - CBS
You can likely drop off Illinois and Iowa, as no one from Wednesday has made it to Saturday in the expanded Big Ten Tournament. A Michigan-Michigan State game would be excellent.
Game 12: Ohio State-Penn State-Northwestern winner vs. Purdue-Indiana-Minnesota-Rutgers winner - 4:30pm - CBS
Purdue getting a second shot against Ohio State would be nice, as the Buckeyes were the only team aside from Purdue to win in Mackey Arena this year. A win over the Buckeyes would all but lock up the a No. 2 seed for us, too.
Game 13: Championship Game - 4:30pm - CBS
I think if Purdue makes it to Sunday it will be no worse than a two seed regardless of the result. If it wins the tournament there is a small chance at a No. 1 seed. If teams around the country keep losing. If Purdue beats both Ohio State and Michigan State to get there that is two more tier 1 wins and we would then officially have a win over every Big Ten this season.