The 2013 Big Ten Tournament started off with a bang, with Nebraska narrowly edging Purdue in a first-round upset and Illinois staving off pesky Minnesota on a Brandon Paul buzzer-beater.
Now the quarterfinals are upon us, and we finally get a chance to see the cream of the B1G crop contend for postseason glory.
We are here to help project which teams will advance to play in the semifinals and which will head home early after suffering a disappointing loss.
Let’s take a look at the updated bracket, where to watch each and every game and make a prediction for the final scores.
No. 1 Indiana vs. No. 8 Illinois, 12 p.m. ET, ESPN
UPDATE: Indiana defeated Illinois, 80-64
When the Fighting Illini are shooting well, they can hang with any team in the nation. However, the Hoosiers are fresh off an extended period of rest and have the legs to hound the opposition on defense in their opening game of the B1G tourney.
Brandon Paul played possibly the best game he could have against the Golden Gophers, and he’ll have to do it again for Illinois to have any chance of pulling the upset.
Expect Victor Oladipo, a Player of the Year candidate and non-stop defensive force, to continually pressure Paul and give him no breathing room on Friday afternoon.
One thing to watch is three-point shooting. If the Illini go 6-of-25 from beyond the arc again (as they did against Minnesota), you can be sure that they advance no further in this event.
In the end, IU is the better team from top to bottom and more consistent across the board. The Hoosiers should pull away late to seal a victory.
Indiana 72 – Illinois 65
No. 4 Wisconsin vs. No. 5 Michigan, 1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
This is a rematch of one of the more thrilling Big Ten battles we saw during during the 2012-13 regular season. Wisconsin wound up winning an overtime showdown, 65-62, in a game that could have went either way.
The Wolverines have the momentum going into this showdown, having just walloped on Penn State in the opening round, winning 83-66. The Badgers had a bye as the No. 4 seed, something that may not be that beneficial in the grand scheme of things.
However, coach Bo Ryan’s squad is known for showing up in big games and boasts one of the best and most efficient defensive units in the entire country.
If they can keep this one low scoring and contain superstar point guard Trey Burke, there’s a chance the Badgers pull an upset.
Wisconsin 58 – Michigan 57
No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 10 Nebraska, 5:30 p.m. ET, BTN
Ohio State has arguably the easiest quarterfinal draw in the Big Ten tournament.
Nebraska isn’t a terrible opponent, but the Cornhuskers aren’t exactly a threat to the Buckeyes. In fact, OSU faced Nebraska twice during the regular season and won both by a combined 36 points.
With the B1G’s leading scorer, Deshaun Thomas, and best defender, Aaron Craft, there’s no foreseeable way that the Huskers are going to pull an upset barring an incredible barrage from three-point land.
Considering Nebraska has shot 31.3 percent from long-range as a team during 2012-13, this one shouldn’t be a challenge for the Buckeyes
Ohio State 68 – Nebraska 55
No. 3 Michigan State vs. No. 6 Iowa, 8 p.m. ET, BTN
The Spartans three-game slide near the end of the regular season was concerning, but a 15-point victory over Wisconsin and 10-point drubbing of Northwestern has this team back on track at the right time.
They’re now going to have to slip past the Hawkeyes if they want to make the semifinals of the conference tournament, a team that coach Tom Izzo’s squad narrowly edged back on Jan. 10.
The Spartans took that one in a nail biter, finishing with a final score of 62-59. Things could be close again, especially with Iowa playing great basketball in March.
Aside from a loss to Indiana, the Hawkeyes beat Illinois by eight, Nebraska by 14 and Northwestern by 14.
While the public is definitely leaning toward the East Lansing-based program, it’s going to be closer than many think.
Michigan State 63 – Iowa 61