The 2011 Big Ten Tournament gets underway this afternoon at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis with an automatic ticket to the NCAA Tournament on the line. The #1 team in both human polls - the Ohio State Buckeyes - are also headlining the tournament with hopes of locking up the #1 Seed in the NCAA Tournament.
While Ohio State won't take the floor until tomorrow, there are three games on the schedule today that can quench your thirst for Big Ten hoops:
GAME #1: 2:30PM et: (8)Northwestern Wildcats (17-12(7-11)) Vs. (9)Minnesota Golden Gophers (17-13(6-12)) ESPN2
In a rematch of the season finale, Northwestern will take on Minnesota for the right to take on Ohio State tomorrow. The two teams split their games in the regular season, each winning on their home floor.
GAME #2: 4:30PM et: (7)Michigan St. Spartans (17-13(9-9)) Vs. (10)Iowa Hawkeyes(11-19(4-14)) ESPN2
Can the Spartans save their season? Most bracketologists have Tom Izzo's crew firmly on the bubble. An upset loss in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament could burst it once and for all. A win should be enough to get MSU in, but a loss could be devastating. MSU beat Iowa by 19 on March 2, but Iowa is coming off an upset win over Purdue the final weekend of the season and beat Michigan State by 20 in early February.
GAME #3: 7:30PM et: (6) Penn St. Nittany Lions (16-13(9-9)) Vs. (11)Indiana Hoosiers(12-19(3-15)) BIG TEN NETWORK
How the mighty have fallen. The Indiana Hoosiers have become an afterthought in Big Ten basketball, while Penn State has quietly become a decent basketball team on the fringe of a NCAA birth. The Nittany Lions won their only meeting with Indiana - a 69-60 triumph on the road - and finished the season winning 4 of their final 6 games.
The Hoosiers had a miserable Big Ten season after starting the year 9-2. Indiana has lost 12 of their last 15 games overall, including a 24-point blowout loss to Illinois on March 5.