COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 06: David Lighty #23 of the Ohio State Buckeyes raises the Big Ten trophy after beating the Wisconsin Badgers 93-65 on March 6, 2011 at the Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

2011 Big Ten Tournament Bracket: Ohio State Wins Back-To-Back Big Ten Championships With Win Over Penn State

The 2011 Big Ten Tournament gets underway on Thursday, March 10, in Indianapolis, Indiana

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Ohio State On Cruise Control: Buckeyes Win Big Ten Tournament over Penn State 71-60

Despite a valiant effort over the last few days by the Penn State Nittany Lions, and a couple of solid runs in the game, Ohio State is just too deep and too good right now. The Buckeyes were again led by their big time scoring trio of William Buford, Jon Diebler, and Jared Sullinger who all had more than 15 points.

One area the Buckeyes could stand improvement is the free throw shooting department. This is due large in part to the fact that Jared Sullinger is getting looks down low and getting hacked, and he’s not a great free throw shooter, but today they were 56 percent from the line as a team. That is not good.

Right now, the Buckeyes are going with basically a seven man rotation, and they are really hard to stop, especially for Big Ten teams which traditionally don’t have great size. The Buckeyes combine great size with Sullinger on the interior and then the three point shooting of Buford and Diebler.

In the tournament, the Buckeyes have likely locked in the top overall seed. They had the best season in school history, and appear to be poised for a deep run in the big dance.

This was a statement victory over a red hot team, and the Buckeyes just proved why they are the number one team in the country.

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2011 Big Ten Tournament: Penn State Runs Past Michigan State 61-48 In Big Ten Semifinals

The Ohio State Buckeyes playing the Penn State Nittany Lions for a Big Ten Championship.  That sounds more like football than basketball, but those will be the two teams battling it out for the 2011 Big Ten Tournament championship Sunday afternoon thanks to Penn State's 61-48 beatdown of Michigan State in the second semifinal game at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. 

Talor Battle and Tim Frazier combined to score 47 points, as the Penn State Nittany Lions beat the Michigan State Spartans, 61-48, in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament.

Battle had 25 points and seven rebounds, while Frazier registered 22 and eight with six assists.

Penn State (19-13), seeded sixth, reached the championship game for the first time. The program's reward is a date with top-seeded and top-ranked Ohio State on Sunday.

Kalin Lucas poured in 16 points to pace seventh-seeded Michigan State (19-14), which started the game on a 14-4 run.

Penn State slowly chipped away and Battle converted a layup to give the Nittany Lions their first lead at 23-21. The teams entered halftime deadlocked at 26, then Penn State opened the second half on a 16-7 run to take control.

Jeff Brooks nailed a three-pointer and Penn State led 49-35 with just under 9 1/2 minutes remaining. The outcome was never in doubt down the stretch.

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2011 Big Ten Tournament: Late Ohio State Buckeyes Run Overpowers Michigan 68-61

The Ohio State Buckeyes have made it to the Finals of the 2011 Big Ten Tournament Championship by beating the Michigan Wolverines in the semi-finals 68-61.  The Buckeyes improved to 10-2 in Big Ten Tournament play as the #1 seed and will look to win their 2nd Straight Big Ten Tournament title tomorrow against the Penn St. Nittany Lions.

Jon Diebler scored 16 points hwile Jared Sullinger added 14 points and 13 rebounds for the Buckeyes(31-2) who made it back to the title game for the 5th time in 6 years.

Darius Morris had 16 points and Tim Hardaway, Jr. added 15 for the fourth- seeded Wolverines (20-13).

"I thought we really battled the entire game today," said Michigan head coach John Beilein.

Trailing 65-48 with just under four minutes remaining, the Wolverines went on a 13-0 run to make things interesting down the stretch. Zack Novak and Evan Smotrycz nailed consecutive three-pointers, the latter coming with 21.4 seconds left, to trim Michigan's deficit to 65-61.

Smotrycz missed from beyond the arc after Diebler sank 1-of-2 free throws. Ohio State's David Lighty secured the defensive rebound and sealed the win at the foul line.

The Buckeyes led 31-27 at the break and extended their advantage to 11 early in the second half.

Michigan closed within two at 47-45, but Ohio State responded with a 16-0 burst that gave it a seemingly comfortable 18-point cushion.

"Our defense, again, I thought was pretty good, but when you make mistakes against a team like Michigan, they make you pay, and they got us a couple times in that regard," said Ohio State head coach Thad Matta. "But once again, I thought this was just a great team win for our program."

William Buford supplied 14 points for the Buckeyes, who shot 46 percent after shooting just 32 percent Friday against Northwestern...Michigan made 37 percent of its shots...

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2011 Big Ten Tournament Bracket: Saturday Tip-Off Times And TV Schedule

The 2011 Big Ten Tournament continues later today with four teams in the Semifinals.  #1 Ohio St. looks to defend it's 2010 Tournament Championship and lock up the overall #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.  Below are the match-ups and tip-off times for Saturday's games:

GAME #8: 1:40PM et - (1)Ohio St. Buckeyes(30-2(16-2)) Vs. (4)Michigan Wolverines(20-12(9-9) CBS:

Ohio State found a way to survive and advance in the Big Ten quarterfinals against Northwestern.  The Buckeyes, who beat the Wildcats by one point during the season needed overtime this time, finally taking control and winning 67-61.

Now the Buckeyes face arch-rival Michigan in the semifinals.  We all remember Evan Turner beating the Wolverines at the buzzer of last year's tournament en route to the Buckeyes winning the Tournament Championship.  Michigan needed a big comeback to get past Illinois.

Down 51-39, Michigan responded with 12 straight points to pull even on Morris' jumper with about 3 1/2 minutes remaining.

Hardaway nailed a three-pointer to put the Wolverines up 56-53 with 1:44 to play, then converted two free throws to make it 58-55 with 48 seconds left.

Michigan had an opportunity to pad its lead at the foul line, but Evan Smotrycz missed the front end of a one-and-one. Illinois' Brandon Paul couldn't get his layup to fall, and Zack Novak sealed the win with two free throws.

Ohio State won both meetings with the Wolverines this season, winning in Ann Arbor 68-64 on January 12, then completing the sweep in Columbus 62-53 on February 3.

GAME #9: 4:05PM et - (6)Penn St. Nittany Lions(18-13(9-9) Vs. (7)Michigan St. Spartans(19-13(9-9), CBS

Did anyone see this semifinal match-up coming?  Tom Izzo's squad has made a habit of playing a tough regular season schedule so that his team is ready come tournament time.  I don't think Izzo wanted his team to struggle as much as they have, but in the end the Spartans are back to where they usually are - in the Big Ten semi's and likely off the tournament bubble.

The Spartans made easy work of the #2-seed Purdue Boilermakers yesterday 74-56.

Penn State, on the other hand, played one of the worst basketball games I have ever seen in upsetting #3 seed Wisconsin 36-33.  The teams combined to shoot 31% from the field while attempting just 11 free throws all day.  

Ironically, the lowest-scoring game in Big Ten Tournament history also saw Battle break the Penn State scoring record. He has 2,141 to pass Jesse Arnelle's mark of 2,138.

The two teams split their meetings this year, each winning on their home floor.

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2011 Big Ten Tournament Scores: Ohio State Slips Past Northwestern 67-61(OT)

The Ohio State Buckeyes have played the Northwestern Wildcats twice this season. Over 80 minutes of basketball, the teams were separated by just 1 point. The teams needed five more minutes to decide who would advance to the semifinals of the 2011 Big Ten Tournament. In the end, Ohio State had a little bit too much Jared Sullinger.

Sullinger scored 20 points to go along with 18 rebounds and fellow freshman Aaron Craft scored 17 points for the Buckeyes, who improved to 30-2 on the season. Sullinger was especially effective from the free throw line, cashing in on 16-18 attempts on a day when his shot wasn’t falling(2-12).

The hottest Buckeye – Jon Diebler – also struggled, hitting just 1-5 from deep, but that three ball was huge, coming in the Overtime to give the Buckeyes a 4 point lead that Northwestern could not overcome. Ohio State shot just 3-15 as a team from behind the arc.

Ohio State seemed to struggle with the layoff, shooting just 32.2% from the field. Northwestern actually shot the ball better – 37.3% – but Ohio State’s huge advantage on the glass(41-24) was the difference.

Forward John Shurna led the Wildcats with 23 points and Drew Crawford scored 12 points to go along with 10 rebounds. Northwestern ends their season at 18-13.

Ohio State will await the winner of today’s second game between Michigan and Illinois.

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2011 Big Ten Tournament Bracket Preview: Ohio State Buckeyes Vs. Northwestern Wildcats

Ohio State begins it's defense of their 2010 Big Ten Tournament Championship this afternoon when they face #8 seed Northwestern at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Four Quarterfinals games take place today, with the Buckeyes and Wildcats opening the day at Noon, ET.  

Northwestern earned a date with the reigning champs by dispatching ninth- seeded Minnesota, 75-65, in yesterday's opening round. Familiarity breeds success for the Wildcats, as they closed the regular season with a 68-57 win over those very Golden Gophers, to finish the year at 7-11 in Big Ten play.

Ohio State enters tournament play as the top-seed for the second consecutive season. Not only do the Buckeyes sport the tourney's top seed, but also the nation's top-ranking. They finished the regular season at 29-2 and 16-2 in league play, clinching their fourth Big Ten title in six years under head coach Thad Matta.

Today's game will act as a rematch of a hotly contested regular-season matchup, in which the undefeated Buckeyes earned a 58-57 victory on Jan. 29th. It was the teams' only meeting this season. Ohio State now leads the all-time series 108-45.

Michael Thompson proved to be the catalyst in Northwestern's most recent victory over Minnesota. The consensus All-Big Ten Third Team selection set a conference tourney scoring record with a career-high 35 points. He went 11- of-22 from the field, including 5-of-12 from three-point range and 8-of-8 from the foul line. Thompson's performance at the charity stripe stretched his consecutive free throw streak to 28, moving him past Pete Boesen's school record of 27 in a row that had stood since 1976. Northwestern held a slim 32-30 lead at the break, and the game continued its back and forth nature until midway through the second half, when the Wildcats ripped off a decisive 13-1 run, giving them a 55-45 lead with nine minutes left. The Golden Gophers would get no closer than nine the rest of the way. In the end, it was strong defense and controlled play that led to the win, as Northwestern held Minnesota to just 37.5 percent shooting and handed out 15 assists against just five turnovers. The Wildcats now rank first in the Big 10 in assists (16.77 apg) and second in assist/turnover ration (1.68/1). Thompson has handed out a team-high 129 assists on the year, while also ranking second in scoring at 15.9 ppg. He ranks third in the Big Ten with 2.7 three-pointers per game and has hit a team-high 81 shots from beyond the arc. John Shurna leads the team in scoring (16.3 ppg), as the Wildcats average 72 ppg. They struggle on the other end of the floor, sporting the ninth-ranked scoring defense in the league (67.9 ppg).

Ohio State last played on March 6th, earning a 93-65 victory over 10th-ranked Wisconsin in the regular-season finale. The win served a payback for an earlier-season loss to the Badgers, which spoiled the Buckeyes undefeated record. With revenge on their minds, the Buckeyes dominated Wisconsin on both ends of the floor, shooting 68.1 percent from the field, while holding the Badgers to 41.7 percent shooting. The lights-out offensive performance included an incredible 14-of-15 clip from beyond the arc, led by Jon Diebler, who scored a game-high 27 points behind 7-of-8 shooting from downtown. Jared Sullinger added 22 points and eight boards in the runaway win. The wildly efficient showing was nothing new, as the Buckeyes currently lead the Big Ten in three-point field goal percentage (41.9). They also hold league-leading distinctions in scoring offense (77.9 ppg), field goal percentage (50), steals (7.5 spg) and scoring margin (plus-18.2), while ranking second in scoring defense (59.7 ppg). Sullinger, a unanimous pick for Big Ten Freshman of the Year, leads the team in scoring (17.3 ppg) and rebounding (9.7 rpg). William Buford (14.5 ppg), Diebler (12.3 ppg) and David Lighty (12.3 ppg) help carry the load. Aaron Craft, who was selected as the Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year by league coaches, leads the squad in assists (145) and steals (64).

Although Northwestern hung tough with Ohio State during the regular season, don't expect the same results this afternoon. The Buckeyes' overwhelming mix of balanced yet explosive offense and hard-nosed defense will prove too much for the Wildcats this time around.

The winner will move on to face the winner of today's second game between Illinois and Michigan.

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2011 Big Ten Tournament Bracket Schedule: Friday Tip-Off Time And TV Schedule

The 2011 Big Ten Tournament continues today with the top four seeds all in action, including #1 seed Ohio State.  Below we look at the start times and where you can find the games on TV if you are lucky enough to watch.  If not, no worries, we'll have updates on all the games in progress as the day goes on.

GAME #4: NOON et: (1)Ohio St. Buckeyes (29-2(16-2)) Vs. (9)Northwestern Wildcats (18-12(7-11)) ESPN

Ohio State looks to solidify their stock as the #1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament when they face Northwestern in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament.  The two teams played each other only once this season with the Wildcats giving the Buckeyes everything they could handle in a 58-57 win for Ohio State on the road.

GAME #5:  2:00PM et: (4)Michigan Wolverines (19-12(9-9)) Vs. (5)Illinois Fighting Illini(19-12(9-9)) ESPN

Perhaps as evenly matched a game you'll see in the tournament, Illinois and Michigan battle in the second game of the day.  Michigan lost their only match-up with Illinois 54-52 on February 16.  Both teams ended the season with identical records, though Michigan was playing better basketball as the season wound down.

GAME #6: 6:30PM et: (2)Purdue Boilermakers (25-6(14-4)) Vs. (7)Michigan State Spartans(18-13(9-9)) BIG TEN NETWORK

Michigan State likely saved their birth in the NCAA Tournament with a win over Iowa in the first round games on Thursday.  Now they get to see if they can make the type of run Tom Izzo teams are known for.  Up next is Purdue, the #2 seed in the tournament, fresh off an upset loss to Iowa that cost them a possible share of the Big Ten championship.  The Boilermakers swept the Spartans this year, winning 86-76 on January 22 at home, then 67-47 on the road on February 27.

GAME #7: 8:30PM et: (3)Wisconsin Badgers (23-7(13-5)) Vs. (6)Penn St. Nittany Lions(17-13(9-9)) BIG TEN NETWORK

The final quarterfinal game of the day sees a pesky Penn State squad taking on Wisconsin.  Like Purdue, the Badgers have the bad taste of an ugly loss to Ohio State in their mouths that should provide plenty of motivation to avoid the upset.  Penn State, however, has the confidence that comes with beating Wisconsin 56-52 on January 29.  Wisconsin got a bit of revenge on February 20, beating the Nittany Lions 76-66.

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2011 Big Ten Tournament Bracket: Indiana's Comeback Falls Short, Penn State Prevails 61-55

The Penn State Nittany Lions have beaten the Indiana Hoosiers and will advance to the second round of the Big Ten tournament.

Penn State was led by their rebounding (out-rebounded the Hoosiers 28-19) and a scoring performance by Jeff Brooks, who scored 15 points for the Lions. Brooks was joined by two other teammates in the double digit scoring department, but Penn State won despite their own mistakes.

11 turnovers and 11 of 20 shooting from the free throw line is not exactly how you make a statement, but the important thing to note here is that Penn State will live to play another day.

Indiana was led by their top scorer Christian Watford, who had 15 points and did all he could to keep the underdog Hoosiers alive. In the end, he just didn’t have enough help from his teammates, as he was the only Indiana player in double digits.

Penn State will move on to the second round and take on the Wisconsin Badgers.

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2011 Big Ten Tournament Bracket Preview: Minnesota Looks To Avenge Late Season Loss To Northwestern

The 2011 Big Ten Tournament gets underway today with a rematch of the regular season finale between the Northwestern Wildcats and Minnesota Golden Gophers. The Wildcats beat Minnesota in the season finale, giving them the #8 seed in the tournament while Minnesota dropped to #9.

The Wildcats started the season 8-0 but struggled down the stretch before beating the Gophers. Overall, NU is 5-13 in the Big Ten Tournament, losing last year in the quarterfinals to Purdue.

Minnesota endured a turbulent season at best, tumbling straight out of a decent national ranking following a 16-4 start and straight to the Big Ten’s ninth seed after losing nine of 10 to close out the year. The Golden Gophers wound up just 6-12 in conference and 17-13 overall, though they did log some nice wins in better days, including versus North Carolina, West Virginia and Purdue. As for the tournament, Minnesota has produced a 10-11 record over the history of this event and made its first-ever appearance in the final last year as the sixth seed in a 90-61 loss to Ohio State.

The winner of this game has the unenviable task of meeting the nation’s top- ranked team in Ohio State for a quarterfinal matchup Friday.

These two teams split the regular-season series with the Wildcats’ 68-57 triumph in Evanston last week avenging an 81-70 defeat January 26 in Gopher country. Minnesota leads the all-time set by a 90-59 count and has taken three of the four meetings from NU in their tournament history together. This will be the third time in four years that the two have matched up in the opening round with the Gophers having produced a 55-52 victory in the last meeting in 2009.

The Golden Gophers fell on hard times over the last month-and-a-half of the season with their lone win in that time coming against an inferior Iowa team. However, Minnesota still features a strong and balanced unit that boasts a number of favorable assets, including the conference’s top-ranked rebounding team (38.0 rpg) and margin (plus-5.1), a league-high 5.5 blocks per game and a Big Ten-low 39.8 shooting percentage against. The Gophers are not without problems of their own, though, and points have been at a premium coming down the stretch. UM’s offense ranks eighth at 69.1 ppg and its scoring defense has slipped to seventh (66.7 ppg). The Gophers are also the dubious owners of the league’s worst free-throw percentage (65.9) and turnover margin (minus-1.83). The senior duo of Trevor Mbakwe and Blake Hoffarber lead the offense with identical 13.7-point averages. Mbakwe adds a Big Ten-best 10.5 rebounds per contest and stands second in the conference in field-goal percentage (58.6). Hoffarber adds a team-high 76 three-pointers on 38.6 percent shooting. Ralph Sampson III checks in at 10.2 points per game to go with 5.4 rebounds and 62 blocks, second only to Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson.

The Wildcats are a prolific three-point shooting team and can pile up the points on offense when their long distance game is on. NU led the Big Ten by far with 266 three-pointers in 2010-11 and shoots a collective 38.1 percent from beyond, good for third in the league. Senior Michael Thompson and junior John Shurna head that charge, ranking third (76) and fifth (64) in the league, respectively, in threes. Shurna’s total dropped at a 47.4-percent accuracy, second only to OSU’s Jon Diebler in the Big Ten, while Thompson connected on 39.8 percent of his triples. Not surprisingly, the duo also stand 1-2 in scoring for the ‘Cats with Shurna’s 16.8 points per game topping the roster. Thompson adds a solid 15.3 ppg and finished seventh in the Big Ten with 4.3 assists per game. Nu topped the conference with 16.8 assists per game. Also chipping in is last season’s Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Drew Crawford, who gives NU three legit double-figure threats with a 12.1-point average while adding an additional 47 three-pointers. Luka Mirkovic adds 7.8 points and a team-high 5.4 rebounds — not one of the Wildcats’ strong points with a league-low 29.5 boards per contest. Northwestern has the conference’s third best offense, averaging 71.9 points per game on 45.5 percent shooting. The defensive efforts are not so strong, ranking ninth in the Big Ten in allowing 68.0 ppg on a league-high 47.8-percent shooting clip against.

Minnesota still has the firepower to come out and atone for its late-season swoon but you have to wonder where the Gophers’ mindset is right now having fallen so far. NU on the other hand has shown an ability to run with teams at sporadic stages of the year and can give anybody a run for their money if the three-ball is dropping. Just the same, the Buckeyes loom large for either club.

PREDICTION: Minnesota 62 – Northwestern 59 — Minnesota has a big name coach in Tubby Smith. I like the Gophers in a close one.

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2011 Big Ten Tournament Bracket: Thursday Tip-Off Times And TV Schedule

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.

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Big Ten Tournament Bracket Preview: Ohio State Buckeyes

Ohio State Buckeye: Final Record – 29-2(16-2), #1 Seed

The Ohio State Buckeyes enter the 2011 Big Ten Tournament Bracket on the top-line, winner of the regular season Big Ten Championship while ending the season as the #1 team in the country in both polls. Ohio State finished the season at 29-2, 16-2 in the Big Ten, and were perfect at home.

The Buckeyes best player, of course, is freshman Jared Sullinger who averaged 17.3 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. The Buckeyes proved, however, that can win without Sullinger’s best as the big man struggled a bit down the stretch.

Senior sharp-shooter Jon Diebler scored in double-figures the final six games of the season – Ohio State was 5-1 during the stretch – and averaged 28.5 points per game over the final two wins at Penn State and a home win over Wisconsin. Diebler has buried 17 of his last 20 three points shots as well.

The one knock about Ohio State heading into tournament action is depth. In fact, in their season finale, five players played 33 minutes or more, and only one bench player played more than 5 minutes – and that was in a blowout win. Aaron Craft is the only bench player that gets significant playing time, and that could come back to haunt them, especially in the big dance.

Ohio State has a chance to be the overall #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. That means they could play their first-round games in Cleveland. I expect the Buckeyes to be a motivated group, looking to put the finishing touches on a tremendous Big Ten season while priming for what they hope is a long run in the NCAA Tournament.

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2011 Big Ten Tournament Bracket Preview: Northwestern Wildcats

Northwestern Wildcats; Final Record: 17-12 (7-11); #8 Seed in Big Ten

Not even the scoring abilities of John Shurna have been able to help out the Northwestern Wildcats, whose 17-12 record was solid but just not enough for them to make a significant stamp on the NCAA regular season, or even in Big Ten play where they were less than impressive.

However, the Wildcats have two things right now going for them. First, they are the 10th best distributing team in the country, dishing out 17 assists per game. Second, they have Shurna, who had a white hot start to the season but has since faltered a bit. He is still averaging 17 points per game and shooting a staggering 47.4 percent from beyond the arc.

Where the Wildcats struggle is controlling the boards. They average only 30 rebounds per contest, which ranks 336th nationally. If you are going to win in the Big Ten, you must play good defense, and you must be able to rebound. If the Wildcats can crash the boards, they have a chance of making some noise.

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2011 Big Ten Tournament Bracket Preview: Minnesota Golden Gophers

Minnesota Golden GophersFinal Record: 17-13 (6-12); #9 Seed In Big Ten Tournament

It's hard to believe how much has changed since the Minnesota Golden Gophers took down the North Carolina Tarheels on Nov. 19. Once a lock for the Big Dance and ranked inside the top 25 in the nation, Minnesota has suffered a meteoric crash. The Golden Gophers now stand at 6-12 within the conference and 17-13 overall as they are set to face the Northwestern Wildcats in round one of the Big Ten Tournament. 

Minnesota is led by Trevor Mbakwe, the team's leading scorer averaging 13.7 points per game. Mbakwe was named to the second team all-Big Ten by coaches and media on Monday. Mbakwe leads the Big Ten in rebounding, pulling down 10.5 boards per game. 

Minnesota has two quality wins on its resumé (72-67 over UNC and 70-67 over Purdue Boilermakers), but 5 straight conference losses to close out the season emphatically shut the door on any remaining NCAA at-large hopes. An at-large bid to the NCAA tournament is out of the question and Minnesota will be relying on some of their early season magic to make a deep run into the Big Ten Tournament. Minnesota and Northeastern split the season series and will face off Thursday, March 10th at 2:30 PM ET in Indianapolis. 

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2011 Big Ten Tournament Bracket Preview: Iowa Hawkeyes

Iowa Hawkeyes: 11-19 (4-14) 10th seed in tournament

The Iowa Hawkeyes ended a six game winning streak and their regular season by pulling off a stunning upset against then 6th ranked Purdue—can they keep the momentum going?

When Iowa changed coaches over the offseason, they lost one of the better recruiting classes they have had in recent years, and have struggled mightily as a result. Players transferred away, and recruits bolted for other colleges.

While the Hawkeyes had a very unimpressive season overall, they finished in dramatic fashion and showed they can at least put up a fight.

Leading scorer Matt Gatens, a junior guard from Iowa City, has played less minutes this year than any year in his career, yet he’s still averaging a career high in points.

The real key player for the Hawkeyes is going to be freshman forward Melsahn Basabe, who is averaging about 12 points per game and leading the Hawkeyes in rebounding. If they are going to upset their way through the tournament, he could be the X-factor.

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2011 Big Ten Tournament Bracket Preview: Iowa Hawkeyes

Iowa HawkeyesFinal Record: 11-19 (4-14); #10 Seed In Big Ten Tournament

It's quite difficult to take anything positive away from the Iowa Hawkeyes' 2011 season. It became apparent early on that Iowa was in for a long season and it will continue in the first round of the Big Ten tournament against the Michigan St. Spartans.

While it would essentially take a miracle for Iowa to win the Big Ten tournament and earn a tournament berth, the Spartans are seated firmly on the bubble. The Hawkeyes have already embraced the role of spoiler in their season finale against the Purdue Boilermakers. The loss likely cost Purdue a chance at a #1 seed in the Big Dance and a regular season Big Ten title. Iowa can make life far more difficult for Michigan St. with a win on Thursday. 

The 2010-11 season may have been disappointing, but Iowa does have a chance to make things interesting in the Big Ten tournament. Michigan State desperately needs a win to strengthen its tournament resumé, yet the two teams split the regular season series. Iowa sits at 4-14 in Big Ten play and 11-19 overall. They take on the Spartans of Michigan State on Thursday, March 10th at 4:30 PM ET in Indianapolis. 

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2011 Big Ten Tournament: Indiana Hoosier's Nightmare Regular Season Over, Can They Find Post-Season Redemption?

Indiana HoosiersFinal Record: 12-19 (3-15); #11 Seed In Big Ten Tournament

The Indiana Hoosiers are one of the most decorated universities in college sports, particularly in college basketball. This year, however, the Hoosiers were the worst team in the Big Ten and now their only chance of making the NCAA tournament is to put together a string of great basketball and win the Big Ten conference tournament, a quest that will begin Thursday night against Penn State.

The biggest advantage the Hoosiers will have in this game is that it will be a virtual home game as the tournament is being played in Indianapolis, IN.

The Hoosiers do have a quality win on their resume’, a close victory against then 20th ranked Minnesota. The leading scorer for the Hoosiers is sophomore Christian Watford, who is averaging 16 points per contest and shooting a very solid 38.7 percent from beyond the arc. He is also one of the better free throw shooters in the conference, hitting 84.1 percent of his attempts from the charity stripe.

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2011 Big Ten Tournament Schedule And Bracket

While controversy swirls around the Ohio State football program, the Buckeyes basketball team gets ready to defend their Big Ten Tournament title down in Indianapolis in the 2011 Big Ten Tournament.  The Buckeyes are the No. 1 seed after winning the regular season championship and won't see their first action until Friday, March 11, at noon.  

Below is the schedule for the 2011 Big Ten Tournament, which gets underway Thursday from Conseco Fieldhouse:

GAME #1 -  2:30 p.m. ET; ESPN2:

No. 8 Northwestern(17-12, 7-11) vs. No. 9 Minnesota(17-13, 6-12)

GAME No. 2 - 4:30 p.m. ET; ESPN2:

No. 7 Michigan St.(17-13, 9-9) vs. No. 10 Iowa(11-19, 4-14)

GAME No. 3 - 7:30 p.m. ET; 

No. 6 Penn St. (16-13, 9-9) vs. No. 11 Indiana (12-19, 3-15)

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Purdue's JaJuan Johnson Wins Player Of The Year, Buckeyes' Aaron Craft Named Sixth Man

The Big Ten Conference office announced on Monday the 2011 All-Big Ten men's basketball teams and individual award winners. Purdue's JaJuan Johnson captured the conference's highest honor, as he was named Big Ten Player of the Year by the conference coaches and media. A unanimous first-team All-Big Ten pick by both coaches and media, Johnson was joined on both first teams by Ohio State freshman Jared Sullinger, Wisconsin junior Jordan Taylor and Purdue senior E'Twaun Moore. Wisconsin senior Jon Leuer was voted to the first team by the conference coaches, while Penn State senior Talor Battle was recognized on the media's first team. Nine of the 16 standouts named to the All-Big Ten first, second and third teams were seniors, while one freshman, one sophomore and five juniors were also honored.

In addition to the All-Big Ten teams, the conference announced the men's basketball individual award winners. In addition to being named Player of the Year, Johnson earned the nod as the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year by the coaches. Ohio State's Sullinger was tabbed the unanimous Big Ten Freshman of the Year by both the coaches and media, while teammate Aaron Craft was selected as the Sixth Man of the Year by the coaches. Purdue head coach Matt Painter was chosen Coach of the Year by the coaches and media.

Johnson becomes the third Boilermaker to earn Big Ten Player of the Year honors, joining Stephen Scheffler (1990) and Glenn Robinson (1994). He is the fifth Boilermaker to earn Defensive Player of the Year along with Ricky Hall (1984), Porter Roberts (1996), Kenneth Lowe (2003-04) and Chris Kramer (2008-10). This marks the first time a player has won both awards in one season since Illinois' Dee Brown accomplished the feat in 2005. Johnson leads the conference in scoring in overall games (20.5), ranks first in Big Ten play with 20.7 points per outing and also leads the Big Ten in blocked shots with 73 in all games and 45 in conference play. Johnson is joined on this year's Big Ten All-Defensive Team by Michigan State's Delvon Roe, Ohio State's Craft and David Lighty and Wisconsin's Taylor.

Sullinger was recognized for his instant impact during the 2010-11 campaign, becoming Ohio State's sixth Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Sullinger joins former Buckeyes Jim Jackson (1990), Greg Simpson (1993), Michael Redd (1998), Greg Oden (2007) and current teammate William Buford (2009). The newcomer finished the year with 17.1 points per game in conference outings, good for first on the team. He also ranked second in the Big Ten in rebounding with 9.4 per conference contest. His inaugural campaign was highlighted by setting a school freshman record with 40 points in a game as well as setting the record for most Big Ten Player of the Week awards won by a freshman with four. Sullinger and Michigan's Tim Hardaway Jr. were unanimous selections on the Big Ten All-Freshman Team and are joined by Illinois' Jereme Richmond, Iowa's Melsahn Basabe and Ohio State' Craft.

Craft becomes Ohio State's third Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year since the award's inception in 2006, joining Daequan Cook (2007) and B.J. Mullens (2009). The Buckeye leads all conference freshmen in steals (64) and assists (145), while leading the Buckeyes in both categories. Craft also leads the conference in steals, averaging 2.06 per game, becoming the first newcomer to lead the Big Ten in the category since 1991.

For the second straight year, Purdue's Matt Painter was honored as the Big Ten Coach of the Year after guiding the Boilermakers to a 25-6 overall record and a 14-4 mark in conference play. In his sixth year at the helm of his alma mater, Painter has led his teams to at least 20 wins in each of the last five seasons. The selection marks the 10th Coach of the Year honor in Purdue history and third for Painter since earning his first laurel in 2008.

This year's All-Big Ten first-team lineup includes multiple two-time honorees, including Purdue's Johnson and Moore, marking the fourth time in school history the Boilermakers have produced two first-team honorees in a single season (also in 1975, 1988 and 2010). Penn State's Battle is the program's first two-time honoree, also earning the recognition in 2009. Wisconsin's Leuer and Taylor become the first Badger duo to garner first-team honors in the same season. Ohio State's Sullinger is the first freshman on the first team since Indiana's Eric Gordon in 2008.

The conference office also announced honorees from each team for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award. The student-athletes chosen are individuals who have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior. In addition, the student-athletes must be in good academic standing and have demonstrated good citizenship outside of the sports-competition setting. Honorees for men's basketball are Illinois' Bill Cole, Indiana's Kory Barnett, Iowa's Jarryd Cole, Michigan's Stu Douglass, Michigan State's Delvon Roe, Minnesota's Blake Hoffarber, Northwestern's Mike Capocci, Ohio State's Dallas Lauderdale, Penn State's Tim Frazier, Purdue's Moore, and Wisconsin's Keaton Nankivil. These 11 student-athletes are now candidates for the Big Ten Outstanding Sportsmanship Award, as the conference office will honor one male and one female student-athlete from each institution at the end of the school year.

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