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. CSTFriday, 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. CSTSaturday, 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 8Sunday, March 12
Game 10: Game 8 winner vs. Game 9 winner, 2:30 p.m. CST Talk about Minnesota Gopher basketball topics on the Tubby's Barn message board.