The B1G, largely regarded as the nation’s top men’s basketball conference in spite of what RPI indicates, begins tournament play Thursday at 11AM CDT when #8 Illinois tips off against #9 Minnesota at the United Center.
It’s basically anyone’s tournament at this point. Well, almost anyone (I wouldn’t get my hopes up, Nebraska, Northwestern or PSU fans). The regular season championship came down to the wire and was settled on the final day when Indiana defeated Michigan 72-71 in the final seconds. Had the heroics failed, we could very well have been looking at a four way tie between Indiana, Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State.
First round byes go to Indiana, Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin. Indiana, by virtue of their first outright conference title since 1993, grabs the #1 seed, giving them their highest seeding in the history of the tournament (previous best, #3 in ’99, ’07, ’08). Ohio State and Michigan State split the season and the tiebreaker for the #2 seed went to The Buckeyes. The Badgers claimed the #4 seed by virtue of a win against Michigan in Madison.
Darkhorses include six-seed Iowa, (who collected 20 wins for the first time since the ’05-’06 season), nine-seed Minnesota (who, in spite of a couple tough season-ending loses, pulled off huge wins over MSU, Wisconsin and Indiana) and eight-seed Illinois (who had big wins over OSU and Indiana). Of that group, Iowa is the team that most desperately needs a good run in the B1G tourney. This is thanks to an RPI of 77 due largely to their 99th ranked strength of schedule. Winning two games in the tourney would go a long ways towards building their resume, which needs a big signature win.
And then there is Purdue. We really like Pete here at the Neutral Zone. Yep.
The full bracket follows: