It’s been a weird, down year in the Big Ten. The conference’s strength is usually its depth, and it still does have a handful of decent teams. It should place seven or eight in the NCAA Tournament, a respectable total. But nobody in the Big Ten is all that scary, and the league doesn’t have a single great team. At least not so far.

All of that should mean this year’s conference tournament will be a good time. Unpredictability and drama often go hand-in-hand, and it’s hard to predict what’ll happen.

Purdue is (probably?) the Big Ten’s best team, and the Boilermakers will enter the tournament as a narrow favorite. Wisconsin’s next, and then there’s a tier of teams who are hard to tell apart: Maryland, Minnesota, Michigan, and Michigan State could all make a run if things break right, but a first-game exit would surprise nobody. Ohio State and Indiana aren’t good this year, but they’ve got the scorers to make a run if a lot of things break their way.

This is the Big Ten’s big debut in Washington, D.C., where it’s holding its tournament for the first time. Establishing a presence in the D.C. area was a key reason the conference moved to add Maryland four years ago, and having the tournament there is a means toward the same end. It might give Maryland a little home-court edge, too.

The format

All 14 teams in the Big Ten qualify. The top four seeds get double-byes into the quarterfinals, and the next six get a single bye into the round before that. The bottom four seeds have to play on the first day and, to win the tournament, need to win a brutal five games in a row. (That’s not happening.) It’s a straight-up, single-elimination race to the finish, with the top two seeds on opposite sides of the bracket.

The teams

  1. Purdue
  2. Wisconsin
  3. Maryland
  4. Minnesota
  5. Michigan State
  6. Northwestern
  7. Iowa
  8. Michigan
  9. Illinois
  10. Indiana
  11. Ohio State
  12. Nebraska
  13. Penn State
  14. Rutgers

The bracket

See the full Big Ten bracket here.

March

Via BigTen.org

Schedule and Results (all times Eastern)

Wednesday, March 8 (First Round)

Game 1: No. 13 Penn State 76, No. 12 Nebraska 67 (OT)
Game 2: No. 11 Ohio State vs. No. 14 Rutgers, 7 p.m., BTN

Thursday, March 9 (Second Round)

Game 3: No. 8 Michigan vs. No. 9 Illinois, 12 p.m., BTN
Game 4: No. 5 Michigan State vs. No. 13 Penn State, 2:25 p.m., BTN*
Game 5: No. 7 Iowa vs. No. 10 Indiana, 6:30 p.m., ESPN2
Game 6: No. 6 Northwestern vs. Game 2 winner, 8:55 p.m., ESPN2*

Friday, March 10 (Quarterfinals)

Game 7: No. 1 Purdue vs. Game 3 winner, 12 p.m., ESPN
Game 8: No. 4 Minnesota vs. Game 4 winner, 2:25 p.m., ESPN*
Game 9: No. 2 Wisconsin vs. Game 5 winner, 6:30 p.m., BTN
Game 10: No. 3 Maryland vs. Game 6 winner, 8:55 p.m., BTN*

* Game time is an estimate. Begins 25 minutes after previous game.

Saturday, March 11 (Semifinals)

Game 11: Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 1 p.m., CBS
Game 12: Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner, 3:30 p.m., CBS

Sunday, March 12 (Semifinals)

Game 13: Game 11 winner vs. Game 12 winner, 3 p.m., CBS

Source : SBnation