No. 1 seed, Midwest Region

Path to a title: The Illini should overwhelm their first two opponents but could face potential No. 1 draft pick Cade Cunningham and Oklahoma State in the Sweet 16. Houston, that region's No. 2 seed, is a statistical darling.

Coach: Brad Underwood is making his fifth NCAA tournament appearance after leading Stephen F. Austin there three times and Oklahoma State once.

Player to watch: Point guard Ayo Dosunmu is simply electrifying with the things he does at high speed, and it's tough to stop the offense with another first-team All-Big Ten selection in 7-foot center Kofi Cockburn.

History: This is Illinois' first NCAA tournament appearance since 2013. The Illini lost the 2005 championship game to North Carolina.


No. 1 seed, East Region

Path to a title: The East bracket doesn't seem particularly daunting. None of the other top seeds —No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Texas, No. 4 Florida State and No. 5 Colorado — are historical powers in March.

Coach: Juwan Howard earned Big Ten Coach of the Year honors in the former Fab Five star's second year on the job. He has plenty of experience in the Big Dance, albeit entirely as a player.

Player to watch: Big Ten Freshman of the Year Hunter Dickinson had some ups and downs as the season went on, but the 7-1 center was excellent Saturday vs. Ohio State with 21 points and eight rebounds.

History: Though Howard's Final Four appearances in 1992 and '93 no longer count, Michigan's NCAA championship game losses in 2013 and '18 under John Beilein do.


No. 2 seed, South Region

Path to a title: If the seeds hold, the Buckeyes would have to face Oral Roberts, Florida and Arkansas before perhaps the best potential 1-2 matchup for a region final in Baylor.

Coach: Chris Holtmann is in his third NCAA tournament with the Buckeyes after appearing in three as the coach at Butler. Over those previous five NCAA tournaments, his teams won their opener each time, but only once did they make it to the Sweet 16.

Player to watch: E.J. Liddell did not have a good shooting weekend in Indianapolis, going 18-for-57 (31.6%) in the Buckeyes' four Big Ten tournament games. Will Kyle Young be able to play next weekend?

History: Ohio State has been to 11 Final Fours (though one was vacated), most recently in 2012; the Buckeyes' lone title came in 1960.

Iowa (21-7)

No. 2 seed, West Region

Path to a title: If Iowa makes the Final Four, it won't be easy in a region with Gonzaga, Kansas, Virginia and Creighton. The COVID-19 situations for Kansas and Virginia, however, could wreak havoc with this bracket.

Coach: Fran McCaffery is making his 10th NCAA tournament appearance as a coach and fifth with the Hawkeyes. His teams are 5-9 in the tourney, including a Sweet 16 appearance in 2015.

Player to watch: Luka Garza is the two-time reigning Big Ten Player of the Year, a 6-11 force inside. He ranks among the nation's leaders with 23.7 points per game.

History: The Hawkeyes are seeking their first NCAA championship and their first trip to the Final Four since 1980 under the late Lute Olson.

Purdue (18-9)

No. 4 seed, South Region

Path to a title: The Boilermakers should zoom past North Texas and reach the Sweet 16, especially since No. 5 seed Villanova lost guard Collin Gillespie to injury. Purdue would have its hands full with No. 1 seed Baylor, however.

Coach: Matt Painter has led Purdue to the NCAA tournament 13 times, including three consecutive Sweet 16s. He recruited a freshman class that bloomed all at once, helping Purdue win 11 of its past 15 games.

Player to watch: Trevion Williams had one of the conference's best performances in January, outscoring Michigan State by himself in the second half of a 55-54 victory in East Lansing.

History: Purdue's last tournament game was a heartbreaker. In the 2019 Elite Eight, Carsen Edwards scored 42 points but Virginia won 80-75 in OT.


No. 9 seed, South Region

Path to a title: If the Badgers can make it past North Carolina, they should get top-seeded Baylor in the round of 32, and the Badgers, who have lost six of their past eight games, are 0-9 against teams that earned top-four seeds this season.

Coach: Greg Gard has continued Bo Ryan's legacy with a Big Ten regular-season title last year and four NCAA tournament appearances, including two Sweet 16s.

Player to watch: D'Mitrik Trice averaged a team-high 13.7 points and the senior guard showed a few times that he can get hot from long range, such as when he scored 19 points in the final 2:12 vs. Illinois.

History: The Badgers have made 21 of the past 22 NCAA tournaments, with Final Four appearances in 2000, 2014 and 2015, but their lone championship is from 1941.

MARYLAND (16-13)

No. 10 seed, East Region

Path to a title: Maryland beat UConn in the 2002 Elite Eight on the way to its only championship. If the Terrapins can get past the Huskies this year, they then would likely have to face a surging Alabama team in the round of 32.

Coach: Mark Turgeon has led the Terps to five NCAA tournaments in seven seasons since joining the Big Ten, as well as a regular-season championship last year.

Player to watch: Junior guard Aaron Wiggins averages 13.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists for the Big Ten's lowest-scoring team at 68.8 points per game.

History: Maryland has 29 NCAA tournament selections and is the Big Ten member with the most recent championship, but that came when the Terps were still in the ACC.

RUTGERS (15-11)

No. 10 seed, Midwest Region

Path to a title: Rutgers beat Illinois in December but got trampled by 22 points by the Illini on Friday. If the Scarlet Knights can get through teams such as Clemson, Houston and West Virginia to make the region final, they might have to face Illinois again.

Coach: Now in his fifth season with Rutgers, Steve Pikiell has turned around a woeful program with back-to-back competitive seasons.

Player to watch: Ron Harper Jr. doesn't really have a similar game to his father, a five-time NBA champion, but he one of five finalists for the Julius Erving Award as the nation's top small forward.

History: Rutgers would have ended its NCAA drought last year had COVID not arrived; instead, this year will mark the Scarlet Knights' first NCAA tournament game in 30 years.


Co-No. 11 seed, East Region

Path to a title: A loss to Maryland in the Big Ten quarterfinals Friday seemingly relegated the Spartans to a play-in game with fellow blue blood UCLA. But it would be foolish to count the Spartans out of any game in this tournament given their history.

Coach: Tom Izzo has guided the Spartans to eight Final Fours and 23 consecutive NCAA tournaments. Many of those teams were dominant on the glass, but not this one; it has a rebounding margin of +3.3.

Player to watch: Aaron Henry leads the Spartans in nearly every major category except rebounds, in which he finished second by one board.

History: The Spartans' 2000 championship team remains the most recent for the Big Ten; their other title came in 1979 in one of the most important basketball games ever played.