Big Ten Tournament 2019: Semifinals Schedule, Live Stream, Bracket Predictions

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMarch 16, 2019

Michigan State guard Cassius Winston brings the ball up court during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Michigan, Saturday, March 9, 2019, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
Al Goldis/Associated Press

Three of the four programs participating in the Big Ten tournament semifinals Saturday were expected to still be alive at this stage.

Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin are joined by No. 7 seed Minnesota, which used victories over Penn State and Purdue to reinforce its NCAA men's basketball tournament resume.

The Golden Gophers will be the underdog against No. 3 Michigan, which is one of the most experienced teams in the nation when it comes to postseason play.

Michigan State is attempting to make a late push for a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance, but in order to be considered by the selection committee, Tom Izzo's Spartans need to blow past Wisconsin and win the final in Chicago on Sunday.


Big Ten Tournament Semifinals Schedule

All Times ET. 

No. 1 Michigan State vs. No. 4 Wisconsin (1 p.m., CBS)

No. 3 Michigan vs. No. 7 Minnesota (3:30 p.m., CBS) 

Games can be live-streamed on CBS All Access or CBS app.



Michigan State's Guards Wreak Havoc on Wisconsin

Michigan State's guard play was one of the top stories to emerge from Friday's quarterfinals, as Cassius Winston and Matt McQuaid were joined by Foster Loyer in double digits.

Loyer's 14 points were a surprise contribution, as he has averaged 1.4 points per game and scored nine points since January 1.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - MARCH 15:  Foster Loyer #3 of the Michigan State Spartans reacts in the first half against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at the United Center on March 15, 2019 in Chicago, Illinoi
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The freshman guard might not score as much as he did Friday against Wisconsin, but he will still play an important role as the Spartans look to keep the Badgers off balance.

Winston and McQuaid are expected to set the tone of the game in the backcourt, while Loyer could be a valuable option off the bench to knock down a few key shots.

In all but one game since the February 12 win over Wisconsin, Winston or McQuaid has been the Spartans' leading scorer, and that streak will continue Saturday, as the former will thrive against a team he scored 23 points against in the aforementioned victory.

In the regular-season triumph over the Badgers, the Spartans received 12 points each out of Kenny Goins and Nick Ward, but they can't rely on the frontcourt players to produce the bulk of the points Saturday.

Ward is working his way back from a broken hand, and although the Spartans are going to want to get him involved as much as possible, they can't expect the big man alone to score points.

In addition to thriving on the offensive side of the ball, the Michigan State guards replicate the defensive success they had against Wisconsin's backcourt players in February.

Wisconsin's starting guards combined for 13 points in the 67-59 loss to the Spartans at the Kohl Center, and they won't be able to do much to reverse their poor fortune against the Big Ten regular-season co-champion.

Michigan State's victory should set up a third clash with rival Michigan, barring one of the biggest upsets of conference tournament season.


Michigan Ends Minnesota's Cinderella Run

As we witnessed a year ago with seventh-seeded Penn State, it's hard for teams to win three games in three days at the Big Ten tournament, especially when their semifinal opponent has fresher legs.

That will be the case in Saturday's second game, as the Golden Gophers deal with fatigue after an overtime win over Penn State and a two-point victory over Purdue.

Conversely, Michigan comes into the matchup on the heels of a 21-point win over sixth-seeded Iowa, during which only two of its players reached the 30-minute mark.

John Beilein's Wolverines have plenty of experience dealing with Richard Pitino's team, as they won both regular-season meetings with the Golden Gophers.

In the January 22 meeting, the Wolverines held Minnesota to 26 second-half points, while Ignas Brazdeikis recorded 18 points, 11 rebounds and two assists.

Brazdeikis and Jon Teske have had plenty of success down low in the pair of wins over Minnesota, as they combined for 33 points in the first meeting and 27 points in the second contest.

Kiichiro Sato/Associated Press

If Michigan's guards feed the big men early, the Wolverines can get off to a fast start before Zavier Simpson and Jordan Poole finish off the Golden Gophers from three-point range.

Minnesota stands a chance of recording an upset if Amir Coffey continues his five-game 20-point streak, but he only scored 17 total points in the two games against the Wolverines.

Since Michigan has a defensive formula already in place to stop Minnesota's guards, it will end the Golden Gophers' Cinderella run and set itself up to play for a third straight Big Ten tournament title.


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90Statistics obtained from ESPN.com.