The Big Ten tournament hit a new high last year, when the Wisconsin Badgers and Michigan State Spartans met in a thrilling championship game at the United Center in Chicago.
The Badgers and Spartans could not separate from each other, and it took an overtime session before Frank Kaminsky III and his Wisconsin teammates were able to defeat Michigan State.
The conference tournament proved to be a precursor to the NCAA tournament, as both Wisconsin and Michigan State earned spots in the Final Four.
The Big Ten would like to put on an equally good show in Indianapolis this week:
|2016 Big Ten Tournament|
|Date||Game No.||Matchup||Time (ET)||TV|
|March 9||1||Minnesota (13) vs. Illinois (12)||4:30 p.m.||ESPN2|
|March 9||2||Rutgers (14) vs. Nebraska (11)||7 p.m.||BTN|
|March 10||3||Northwestern (9) vs. Michigan (8)||Noon||BTN|
|March 10||4||Illinois/Minnesota vs. Iowa (5)||2:30 p.m.||BTN|
|March 10||5||Penn State (10) vs. Ohio State (7)||6:30 p.m.||ESPN2|
|March 10||6||Nebraska/Rutgers vs. Wisconsin (6)||9 p.m.||ESPN2|
|March 11||7||Michigan/Northwestern vs. Indiana (1)||Noon||ESPN|
|March 11||8||Game 4 winner vs. Purdue (4)||2:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|March 11||9||Game 5 winner vs. Michigan State (2)||6:30 p.m.||BTN|
|March 11||10||Game 6 winner vs. Maryland (3)||9 p.m.||BTN|
|March 12||11||Semifinal (Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner)||1 p.m.||CBS|
|March 12||12||Semifinal (Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner)||3:30 p.m.||CBS|
|March 13||13||Championship||3 p.m.||CBS|
Michigan State is again likely to be involved in the most crucial games, while Indiana appears to have an excellent chance of replacing Wisconsin in a starring role.
The Hoosiers won the regular-season title, while the Spartans finished as the No. 2 seed. If the seeding holds up throughout the week, Indiana and Michigan State will meet for the Big Ten title Sunday afternoon.
Even though Michigan State finished second in the regular season, head coach Tom Izzo's Spartans are 27-20 favorites to win the tournament, according to Odds Shark.
The Hoosiers are the second choice at 7-2, while Maryland and Purdue are both tied for third at 5-1.
|Odds to Win Big Ten Tournament|
|Team||Big Ten Record||Odds|
Michigan State will likely be a top seed in the NCAA tournament when the brackets come out Sunday. The Spartans played a challenging nonconference schedule and performed brilliantly, but they struggled early in the Big Ten season. However, they regained their form and have won six games in a row and 10 of their last 11.
National Player of the Year candidate Denzel Valentine, who averaged 19.6 points per game during the regular season, leads the Spartans. Valentine is a creative player who excels at finding the open man as well as hitting the clutch shot. He is averaging 7.5 rebounds per contest and has received praise from legendary Spartans star and NBA all-time great Magic Johnson, per Kyle Austin of MLive.com:
Caught up with Magic Johnson in Anaheim last night. He had some nice things to say about Denzel Valentine https://t.co/hwT0l3Yk2M— Kyle Austin (@kylebaustin) November 30, 2015
Valentine has gotten plenty of help from guard Bryn Forbes and powerful forward Matt Costello. Forbes is averaging 15.1 points per game and is one of the best outside shooters in the nation. He is connecting on 50.5 percent of his shots from beyond the arc.
Costello leads the team in rebounding with 8.5 boards per game, and he is also scoring 10.5 points per contest. Aside from his numbers, Costello dives, hustles and sets the tone for the Spartans as well.
Indiana has been brilliant throughout the Big Ten season, and head coach Tom Crean has quieted critics who had complained about him.
Guard Yogi Ferrell is the team's leading scorer with 17.1 points per game. Ferrell is also one of the best passers in the league and is averaging 5.5 assists per contest.
Fellow guard James Blackmon Jr. is the team's second-leading scorer, averaging 15.8 points per game. He is connecting on 48.0 percent of his shots from the field and 46.3 percent from beyond the arc.
If someone denies Michigan State and Indiana, look for Maryland or Iowa to come away with the title.
The Terrapins have a pair of stars who are capable of filling it up quickly in Melo Trimble and Diamond Stone. The Terps are Big Ten outsiders because they spent so many years in the ACC. However, they have not been intimidated in their first two seasons in the Big Ten and are capable of putting on an impressive show in the tournament.
While Iowa slumped down the home stretch, the Hawkeyes led the Big Ten throughout much of the season. Forward Jarrod Uthoff had an impressive regular season and leads Iowa with 18.8 points per game, while swingman Peter Jok is averaging 15.8 points per game.