Big Ten tournament brackets tipoff on Wednesday, March 9. The 2016 Big Ten schedule has two games on its first day, with the results determining which schools advance to second-round games on March 10. The regular season Big Ten standings decided which four schools received a double-bye straight into the quarterfinals. Those top four seeds are No. 1 Indiana (26-5), No. 2 Michigan State (26-5), No. 3 Maryland (24-7), and No. 4 Purdue (24-7). The Big Ten tournament brackets have two days of game results before the top schools even take the court.
In the Big Ten tournament schedule, first-round games are No. 12 Illinois vs. No. 13 Minnesota at 4:30 p.m. ET on March 9 and No. 11 Nebraska vs. No. 14 Rutgers at 7 p.m. ET. For these four schools, winning the Big Ten Tournament is the only way to get an invite to the 2016 NCAA Tournament. Nebraska could receive an invite from the NIT with several wins this week.
Second-round games on March 10 will be No. 8 Michigan vs. No. 9 Northwestern at 12 p.m. ET, the Illinois/Minnesota winner vs. No. 5 Iowa 25 minutes later, No. 7 Ohio State vs. No. 10 Penn State at 6:30 p.m. ET, and the Nebraska/Rutgers winner vs. No. 6 Wisconsin 25 minutes later. The results of these second-round games will decide the eight schools playing in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals.
Nebraska (14-17) had a tough second-half in conference play, dropping the school way down the Big Ten tournament brackets. The school lost five straight games but comes in as heavy favorites to beat Rutgers (7-24) on day one of the Big Ten tournament schedule. The oddsmakers are projecting Nebraska as a 14.5-point favorite to advance to the second round.
The other first-round game on the Big Ten tournament brackets has Illinois (13-18) projected to beat Minnesota (8-22). Illinois is favored by 10.5 points in the March 9 game, giving the team good odds to advance to the second round. The school is playing with “house money” at this point, taking some of the pressure off the team during the tournament.
The current Big Ten tournament odds have the Michigan State Spartans as the clear favorites despite coming in as the No. 2 seed. The Indiana Hoosiers, Purdue Boilermakers, and Maryland Terrapins (in that order) are the other three schools given good odds to win the Big Ten Championship Game. Michigan State and Indiana are trying to gain more national recognition with success in the Big Ten Tournament, because that could lead to better seeding in the 2016 NCAA Tournament.
Joe Lunardi at ESPN.com has released a new bracketology report that has just six teams advancing from the Big Ten tournament brackets to the NCAA Tournament. Those schools are Michigan State (26-5), Indiana (25-6), Maryland (24-7), Purdue (24-7), Wisconsin (20-11), and Iowa (21-9). He also has Ohio State (19-12) and Michigan (20-11) on the bubble. Northwestern (20-11) could also make the field with several wins in the Big Ten Tournament.
In the latest RPI rankings, Maryland is the highest Big Ten team at No. 12 on the list. They are followed by Michigan State (No. 15), Purdue (No. 16), Indiana (No. 20), Iowa (No. 23), Wisconsin (No. 31), and Michigan (No. 67). That could be improved for Michigan if the team can make it deep into the Big Ten tournament brackets. To do that, Michigan would need to beat Northwestern in a second-round game and then Indiana in a very tough quarterfinals game.
The first game on the Big Ten tournament schedule (Illinois vs. Minnesota) will be broadcast live on ESPN2 on March 9 at 4:30 p.m. ET. The night game (Nebraska vs. Rutgers) will take place on the Big Ten Network at 7 p.m. ET. The first two second-round games will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network as well, with ESPN2 then airing Ohio State vs. Penn State at 6:30 p.m. ET and the Wisconsin game about 25 minutes later. Indiana and Michigan State will continue to wait in the Big Ten quarterfinals for the scores and results of those games.
[Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images]