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It's Tourney Time!

03/06/2000, 12:00am CST
By Jason Groth

Gopher Basketball

March Madness is here once again with the start of the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday. For Minnesota (due to their self-imposed sanctions), this is the only part of March Madness they'll get to experience this year. Here's how the conference tournament shapes up.

The Gophers (seeded 10th) open up against 7th-seeded Iowa at 3:30 pm on Thursday. The winner of that game gets the honor of playing #2 Michigan State in the second round. Some prize. The Minnesota-Iowa game should be the best match-up of the opening round. The tournament really gets heated up when #4 Illinois and #5 Indiana square off on Friday. That should be a great game. Top-seeded Ohio State figures to have an easy time with the winner of the Michigan-Penn State game. Of the top three seeds, Purdue's likely second round match-up with Wisconsin has the best chance at an upset.

I think the top of the league is too strong for any major upsets to occur though. The top three seeds will advance to the semifinals. I think they'll be joined by Illinois. Indiana is a solid team, but they've been struggling lately. Illinois has a lot of potential plus the home crowd, so I'm looking for them to join the final four. In a replay of last year's tournament, I look for Illinois to upset Ohio State in the semis before falling to Michigan State (who should handle Purdue fairly easily) in the final. Any one of the top 5 teams could win it (although I'm not sold on Purdue), but this is my best at how it will shake out. Here's the schedule for the whole weekend:

Thursday, March 9
Game 1: #8 Michigan vs. #9 Penn State, 1 p.m. CST
Game 2: #7 Iowa vs. #10 Minnesota, 3:30 p.m. CST
Game 3: #6 Wisconsin vs. #11 Northwestern, 6:10 p.m. CST

Friday, March 10
Game 4: #4 Illinois vs. #5 Indiana, 11:30 a.m. CST
Game 5: #1 Ohio State vs. winner of Game 1, 2 p.m. CST
Game 6: #2 Michigan State vs. winner of Game 2, 6:40 p.m. CST
Game 7: #3 Purdue vs. winner of Game 3, 9 p.m. CST

Saturday, March 11
Game 8: Game 4 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 1:30 p.m. CST
Game 9: Game 6 winner vs. Game 7 winner, 30 minutes following game 8

Sunday, March 12
Game 10: Game 8 winner vs. Game 9 winner, 2:30 p.m. CST

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Tag(s): Gopher Basketball