Chart: Five things to watch for in the Big Ten tournament

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 8, 2012 - 12:51 AM

1 A No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament could be on the line. It's possible any of the Big Ten regular-season tri-champions -- particularly Ohio State or Michigan State -- could snag one if it also takes the tournament championship. It might also take an upset in the ACC, SEC, Big 12 or Big East, but winning the conference tournament would give them fuel to be considered.

2 Can Ohio State and Michigan State get it together? The Buckeyes lost three of their last seven regular-season games, and the Spartans dropped their last two. Michigan State is coming off one of its most discouraging games of the season -- one in which it lost freshman standout Branden Dawson to a season-ending knee injury.

3 Michigan might be the most intriguing team. While Michigan State, Ohio State and Indiana got the hype all year long, the Wolverines quietly have just been playing really solid basketball.

4 Interesting matchups abound. The most intriguing one might be a potential semifinal faceoff between Michigan State and Indiana. They split the season series, with Indiana taking Game 2. Also interesting, though unlikely: a scenario in which Iowa beats Illinois and Michigan State and faces Wisconsin -- whom the Hawkeyes swept this season.

5 All on the line for Northwestern. The Wildcats never have made the NCAA tournament, and winning Thursday's game against the Gophers will be a must. One victory in the tournament, with the Wildcats' 8-10 conference record, might not even be enough, but it's necessary to continue to hope.

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