After a tremendous regular-season battle, which saw three teams finish tied at the top of the Big 10 standings, there is little doubt that the Big Ten Tournament should be tremendous to watch. With the 2012 Big 10 Tournament set to begin on March 8, both Northwestern and Illinois know that a deep run will likely be necessary in order to earn a coveted spot in the NCAA Tournament.
The Wildcats enter the tournament as the No. 7 seed and will face Minnesota on March 8 in the opening round of the conference tournament. The two teams split the regular-season series, with both teams winning comfortably on their home court. Should the Wildcats win, they would advance to face Michigan on March 9.
Illinois enters the tournament as the No.9 seed and will face Iowa in the opening round. In the lone matchup this season, Illinois earned a 65-54 win, which also happens to be its only win in the past nine games. Here is a look at the complete Big 10 Tournament bracket.
Thursday, March 8
11:30 a.m.: No. 8 Iowa (16-15, 8-10) vs. No. 9 Illinois (17-13, 6-12). Big Ten Network.
2 p.m.: No. 5 Indiana (24-7, 11-7) vs. No. 12 Penn State (12-19, 4-14). Big Ten Network.
5:30 p.m.: No. 7 Northwestern (18-12, 8-10) vs. No. 10 Minnesota (18-13, 6-12). ESPN2.
8 p.m.: No. 6 Purdue (20-11, 10-8) vs. No. 11 Nebraska (12-17, 4-14). ESPN2.
Friday, March 9
Noon: No. 1 Michigan State (24-7, 13-5) vs. Iowa/Illnois winner, ESPN.
2:30 p.m.: No. 4 Wisconsin (23-8, 12-6) vs. Indiana/Penn State winner, ESPN.
6:30 p.m.: No. 2 Michigan (23-8, 13-5) vs. Northwestern/Minnesota winner, Big Ten Network.
9 p.m.: No. 3 Ohio State (25-6, 13-5) vs. Purdue/Nebraska winner, Big Ten Network.
Saturday, March 10
1:40 p.m.: Michigan State/Iowa/Illinois vs. Wisconsin/Indiana/Penn State, CBS.
4:10 p.m.: Michigan/Northwestern/Minnesota vs. Ohio State/Purdue/Nebraska, CBS.
Sunday, March 11
3:30 p.m.: Semifinal winners, CBS.