Bracket Brief: Big 10 Tournament preview
Championship Week Thursday is always one of the busiest and most exciting days on the college basketball calendar as all the power conference tournaments are in play and bubbles start bursting all over the place.
The Big 10 Tournament begins Thursday in Chicago with the usual amount of fanfare. It was the nation's best conference this year and as such there really isn't much in terms of bubble action coming into the tourney. I blogged earlier this week about who is in the tourney as an at-large team and who is close. Illinois and Minnesota, who face each other Thursday, are in much better shape now considering a handful of bubble teams have fizzled out. The only other bubble team that needs at least two wins is Iowa. The Hawkeyes face Northwestern in the first round with the winner playing Michigan State on Friday. I don't believe at this point the Illinois-Minnesota game is a must win for either but obviously one extra win this time of year is better than nothing.
So it's less about being on the bubble and more about figuring out where everyone will be seeded. Wisconsin appears to be a #5 seed at this point but that can certainly change if the Badgers have an early exit. Indiana's win over Michigan on Sunday puts the Hoosiers squarely on the #1 line but with Georgetown, Louisville and Kansas all surging late a one-and-done could knock IU to a #2 seed.
With that said, Friday will be an interesting day with Indiana playing the Illinois-Minnesota winner and both of those teams looking for one more quality win. Then there's potential matchups between Wisconsin and Michigan and Michigan State and Iowa. The Wolverines could lock themselves into the #3 line while the Badgers could do the same at #5. As for the other matchup,again, it would be a must-win for the Hawkeyes while a deep run for the Spartans could vault them to a #2 seed.