Indiana Hoosiers vs. Illinois Fighting Illini (-9.5, 137)
Top-seeded Indiana begins its attempt to win the Big Ten tournament when it plays eighth-seeded Illinois in Friday’s quarterfinals in Chicago. The No. 3 Hoosiers had a first-round bye while the Fighting Illini outlasted Minnesota 51-49 on Thursday. Illinois notched an electric 74-72 win over then-No. 1 Indiana on Feb. 7 when it ended the game with a 13-2 run and won on Tyler Griffey’s layup at the buzzer. The Hoosiers have never won the Big Ten tourney.
Indiana will earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament if it emerges as the tournament champion and maybe even if it doesn’t. Still, the Hoosiers are placing a do-or-die spin on the tournament. “I think we just need to take it one game at a time and treat each game like it’s your last,” junior guard Victor Oladipo said. “It’s win or go home.” Illinois senior guard Brandon Paul put on a show against Minnesota by scoring 25 points and draining the game-winning 15-footer at the buzzer. “I saw I had some space, so I let the shot go with the buzzer winding down,” Paul said.TRENDS:
* Under is 6-1 in Fighting Illini’s last seven overall.
* Fighting Illini are 1-5 ATS in their last six games overall.
* Hoosiers are 1-4 ATS in their last five neutral site games.
Wisconsin Badgers vs. Michigan Wolverines (-3, 125)
Fifth-seeded Michigan has the hardest road of the five elite Big Ten programs in the conference tournament and the No. 8 Wolverines face a tough barrier in No. 23 Wisconsin in Friday’s quarterfinals in Chicago. Michigan defeated Penn State in its first-round game while the well-rested Badgers had a bye as one of top four finishers in the regular season. Fourth-seeded Wisconsin has won 11 of the past 12 meetings, including an overtime victory in the lone meeting this season.
The Badgers lost two of their last three regular-season contests and needed a miracle buzzer-beating 3-point shot by sophomore guard Traevon Jackson to beat Penn State in the regular-season finale. Wisconsin last won the Big Ten tournament in 2008, ending a stretch in which it reached the championship game four times in five seasons. The Wolverines fell behind 14-3 early in the contest against Penn State before dominating the second half and winning 83-66. Michigan tied the Big Ten tournament record by committing only four turnovers to lower their conference-best average to 9.2.
* Wolverines are 4-0 ATS in their last four neutral site games.
* Underdog is 7-1 ATS in the last eight meetings.
* Under is 6-1 in the last seven meetings.Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (-15, 121)
Ohio State has played in five of the past seven Big Ten tournament title games and the No. 9 Buckeyes begin their pursuit of another appearance when they face 10th-seeded Nebraska in Friday’s quarterfinals in Chicago. Second-seeded Ohio State won the crown in 2007, 2010 and 2011 and lost in the championship game in 2006 and 2009. The Cornhuskers edged Purdue in Thursday’s opening round, but dropped both regular-season meetings against the Buckeyes.
Nebraska first-year coach Tim Miles is in the midst of setting a foundation for a program that was predicted to finish last in the 12-team league and face a quick exit in the tourney. “We were picked dead last by everybody but my mom,” Miles said after the Purdue victory. “We at least outperformed that expectation. Sometimes you got to creep to crawl to walk to run.” The Buckeyes are on the other side of the scale and looking to earn a high seed in the NCAA Tournament. “There is a lot more basketball left,” junior forward Deshaun Thomas said. “I am trying to enjoy myself and get to the Final Four.”
* Under is 5-0 in Buckeyes' last five overall.
* Buckeyes are 4-1 ATS in their last five games overall.
* Under is 3-0-1 in Cornhuskers' last four vs. a team with a winning S.U. record.
Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Michigan State Spartans (-5.5, 131)
Third-seeded Michigan State begins defense of its Big Ten tournament championship when it faces a hot Iowa squad in Friday’s quarterfinals in Chicago. The No. 7 Spartans had a bumpy late-season stretch of three losses before rebounding to win their final two regular-season contests. The sixth-seeded Hawkeyes have won seven of nine games after beating Northwestern in Thursday’s first round. An upset of the Spartans would greatly bolster Iowa’s chance of landing an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
Michigan State won 62-59 at Iowa in the lone regular-season meeting. The Hawkeyes let a 12-point lead get away in a game in which they were missing leading scorer Roy Devyn Marble because of an ankle injury. Iowa coach Fran McCaffery is aware of the importance of beating the Spartans this time around. “I hear what everybody’s saying about that particular game,” McCaffery said after the victory over Northwestern. “To me, I am very comfortable with where our resume is right now. I think we deserve to be in.” Michigan State can improve its seeding with a deep tournament run. The Spartans usually excel in March and are 24-8 during the month over the past four-plus seasons.
* Favorite is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings.
* Hawkeyes are 1-4 ATS in the last five meetings.
* Hawkeyes are 5-0 ATS in their last five vs. Big Ten.