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Big Ten Tournament 2021: Bracket, TV Schedule, Dates, Live-Stream Info

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMarch 8, 2021

Rutgers center Myles Johnson (15) blocks a Michigan Wolverines forward Isaiah Livers (2) shot in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Before the NCAA men's basketball tournament takes over Indianapolis, the strongest conference in the sport will use the city as its showcase stage. 

The 2021 Big Ten tournament will be held at Bankers Life Fieldhouse for the first since 2016. The Michigan Wolverines enter as the No. 1 seed. 

Michigan and its in-state rival, the Michigan State Spartans, have won the last four Big Ten tournament titles, but only one of them will get a chance to win a championship on Selection Sunday. 

The Wolverines and Spartans could meet for the third time in a week in the quarterfinals if the Spartans win their No. 8-No. 9 matchup on Thursday. 

That is one of many intriguing storylines that could emerge from Wednesday to Sunday. Another one is which lower seed will make a deep run. There has not been a No. 1-No. 2 Big Ten tournament final since 2007.

        

Big Ten Tournament Bracket and Schedule

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The @bigten bracket is SET 🙌 Who's your pick to win it? https://t.co/0YEsBpUvDh

The initial drama in Indianapolis will surround Michigan State, whose NCAA tournament hopes received a massive boost on Sunday following a 70-64 win over Michigan. 

Izzo's team won five of its last seven regular-season games, a run that also included triumphs over the Illinois Fighting Illini and Ohio State Buckeyes. 

One of those losses was to the Maryland Terrapins, who could be in bubble peril after losing two straight games to the Northwestern Wildcats and Penn State Nittany Lions. 

If Michigan State earns a third meeting with Michigan, it has a blueprint to beating a likely No. 1 seed in the Big Dance. 

Even if the Spartans spring another upset, they would face a tough run to the championship given the quality of the Big Ten this season and the history of the tournament. 

Only three teams seeded beneath No. 4 have won the Big Ten tournament. Michigan became the lowest seed to win it all in 2017 as the eighth-rated team. 

If the champion comes from the top four seeds, there is no bad candidate to fill that role. 

Few teams have been able to figure out Michigan this season, and it has just three losses from conference play on its resume. 

However, two of those defeats occurred in the last three games. The loss to Illinois can be chalked up as a rare bad performance, while the defeat to Michigan State had the right combination of playing a team back-to-back in quick succession and Michigan State being desperate for a big win.

The Wolverines have five Top 25 wins from the regular season, and they defeated two of the other three top-four seeds in this tournament. 

The Purdue Boilermakers are a much different team compared to when they lost to Michigan on January 22. Matt Painter's team is on a five-game winning streak and has only lost twice since January 30.

The knock on that streak is most of the victories came against the bottom-tier sides in the Big Ten. Purdue's only Top 25 win in that stretch occurred versus the Wisconsin Badgers. 

Illinois went through a much more difficult stretch to earn the No. 2 seed, as it beat Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio State in three straight games. 

The Fighting Illini's recent run and inside-outside combination of Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn could make them one of the hot picks to capture the crown in Indianapolis.

The Iowa Hawkeyes come into the Big Ten tournament with far less hype, but they do have the National Player of the Year favorite in Luka Garza. 

Additionally, Fran McCaffery's squad has played better defense of late, as it held opponents below 75 points in each of its last seven wins. 

No matter which team emerges from the Big Ten tournament as champion, it will have earned the reward with at least two wins over Top 25 squads. 

From a neutral's perspective, it should be the most entertaining competition in the next week.

        

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from ESPN.com.