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Time to Burst Some Bubbles: B1G Basketball Weekend

Previews, games, times, and TV as Illinois and Iowa try to get right-side up, Michigan State tries to avoid a freefall, and everyone jockeys for Big Ten Tournament position.

NCAA Basketball: Indiana at Iowa
Practicing his fighting Irishman pose for St. Patrick’s Day
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Well, yesterday we brought you recaps of the week, Big Ten bracketology, and Big Ten Tournament seeding scenarios...and now it’s time to see how it all shakes out! We’ve got each of the weekend games here for you, with implications abound in everything:


Illinois (18-12, 8-9) at rutger (13-17, 2-15)

11am || ESPNU || Ill -4.5

For Illinois: With a win, the Illini stay on the bubble and all but lock up a 7- or 8-seed in the Big Ten Tournament. A loss virtually means a 9-seed. In order to avoid a second-round date with Purdue, though, they’ll need a win and a little help from Penn State and Nebraska.

For rutger: I don’t know. Pride, probably?

Now I’ve ragged on rutger pretty hard this season, but you know there’s one thing about the Scarlet Knights near and dear to my heart: CJ Gettys. Send that lovable lug out on a high note, rutger. Get him that double-double we all know he’s capable of.

Indiana (16-14, 6-11) at Ohio State (17-13, 7-10)

11am || ESPN || OSU -2.5

For Indiana: Home court in the NIT, I guess? I personally don’t know how a free-falling team like the Hoosiers should even be in the NIT with a 6-12 conference record, but perhaps they’ll fall off that bubble. A loss and a Penn State win bounces the Hoosiers all the way down to a 13-seed, while to avoid the Wednesday slate of games, they’ll need a win and a Michigan win.

For Ohio State: There are people still placing Ohio State as one of the Next Four Out, so a win somehow keeps this team on the bubble. Surprise! A loss would also drop them to the low side of NIT seeding, putting them in the 6-7 range or, with a few more mid-major tournament upsets, bouncing them entirely.

A win keeps the Buckeyes away from the double-bye, and if they lose, they’ll need wins by Iowa, Nebraska, and rutger to avoid Wednesday.

Michigan State (18-12, 10-7) at Maryland (23-7, 11-6)

1pm || BTN || MD -4.5

Bet someone at BTN is laughing that they got this game and not rutger-Illinois or two of the worst Indiana-Ohio State teams we’ll see, huh? [I do always forget how bad Indiana was about a decade ago, though.]

For Michigan State: The Spartans are pretty well ensconced around a 9-10 seed, but a loss at Maryland would keep pushing them toward Dayton. Nothing to panic about yet, but that coupled with a BTT loss would have the Spartans sweating on Selection Sunday.

It’s pretty simple for Michigan State’s seeding as well: Win, get a 3-seed. Lose, it’s a 5 with a Purdue win or a 6 with a Purdue loss.

For Maryland: We’ve seen the Terps slip to 8 in some brackets. A win would shore their chances up and keep them moving back toward a 7-line, which could become a 6 with a nice BTT run. A loss puts them on the wrong side of the 8-9 line.

The only way Maryland misses the double-bye is with a loss and a Minnesota win.


Penn State (14-16, 6-11) at Iowa (17-13, 9-8)

12pm || BTN

Tony Carr has been on fire for the Lions, but it’s a send-off for Peter Jok, so I’m not picking against the Hawkeyes in this one. There’s a lot at stake in this one, either way.

For Penn State: The Nittany Lions can move all the way up to an 11-seed (and a first-round date with rutger) with a win and wins by Ohio State and Michigan. That’d help keep their NIT dreams alive (they’d need at least two BTT wins), but that’s about it here.

For Iowa: Apparently the Hawkeyes are back on the bubble! Hooray! They’re locked in between 7- and 9-seeds, which I suppose if they want to avoid Purdue would mean a win or a win by rutger and Nebraska.

#16 Purdue (24-6, 13-4) at Northwestern (21-9, 10-7)

3:30pm || CBS || Purdue -a lot

For Purdue: I dunno...seeding? Purdue needs to steal a minor one here to stay on a 4-line, which they probably should do. That’s about it for the Big Ten regular season champs.

For Northwestern: A win solidifies the impossible.

As far as the BTT goes, a loss means the ‘Cats get a 6-seed. They’re pretty locked into that seed, unless they (1) win, (2) get a Maryland win—that moves them to a 5, and (3) get a Maryland win and a Minnesota win—that moves them to a 4. Of course, if Maryland loses to Michigan State, it’s all over but the single-bye.

Minnesota (23-7, 11-6) at #22 wisconsin (22-8, 11-6)

5pm || BTN

For Minnesota: Pretty simple—win gets a 2-seed and likely a 5-seed or better in the NCAA Tournament, along with almost any accolade Richard Pitino wants (save Nat’l Coach of the Year because apparently Chris Collins is up for it but not Pitino). The Gophers also hang onto a double-bye with a loss but a Maryland win.

For wisconsin: The badgers just desperately need to stop the skid. Ethan Happ is going to face one of the most physical inside tests in the Big Ten, but wisconsin’s ability to get Jordan Murphy away from the lane and isolate Foul Machine Reggie Lynch could pay dividends. That’s assuming Bronson Koenig can keep his hot shooting up.

The badgers keep the dream of a 6-seed in the Dance alive with a win, while only a loss, a Northwestern win, and a Maryland win means the badgers have to play on Thursday.

Michigan (19-11, 9-8) at Nebraska (12-17, 6-11)

7pm || BTN

For Michigan: A win gives them somehow another winning season in the Big Ten, a firm place in the Dance (not Dayton), and a 7-seed in the BTT with some help from Penn State. Otherwise it’s an 8- or 9-seed.

For Nebraska: Pride, really? Maybe Tim Miles’ job, as we’re hearing rumors that the Omaha World-Herald set off a little coaching controversy that has Shawn Eichorst (that’s the Nebraska AD, right? Far too lazy to look it up #journalism) reconsidering Miles’ status.

The Huskers also avoid a Wednesday game in the Big Ten Tournament with a win and wins by Penn State and Indiana. Send Tai Webster off on a high note, Huskers.

A hearty congratulations to all the seniors closing out their home careers this weekend. Feel free to share any of the good stories in the comments—after last year’s Alex Olah family reunion, I’ve come to appreciate those even more.

Here’s your spot for all the weekend action! Usual rules apply. Follow the intrigue and heartbreak here!