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Big Ten Tournament Preview

By: Jarrod Columnist
Contact Jarrod

Big Ten Basketball Tournament

March 11 - 14, 2004

Indianapolis, Indiana

Conseco Fieldhouse

Tournament Bracket
Updated with Results

Tournament Favorite > Illinois
Illinois The Fighting Illini come into postseason play as the Big 10 regular season champs, having won of 10 straight games to end the season. Dee Brown has played exceptionally well, averaging a little over 18 PPG over his last 5 games.

Tournament Dark Horse > Michigan State
Michigan State It's hard to think of Michigan State as a darkhorse since they finished tied for second in the conference, but with an overall record of 17-10, they have somewhat flown in under the radar. The Spartans have won 12 of their last 15 and could possibly run the table with the right tournament draw.

Matchup of Intrigue > Michigan vs Iowa
Michigan vs Iowa These two teams desperately need a win to increase their chances of playing in the NCAA tournament. Both teams are hovering around the .500 mark in conference play. The teams split in the regular season, with both matchups being decided by 8 points.

NCAA Tournament Impact
NCAA Tournament In a completely down season for the Big 10, no team in the conference stands a chance at grabbing a No. 1 seed, and it's likely that no team will grab a No. 2 seed. Illinois and Wisconsin could both possibly move up to a No. 3 if they run the table. Further down the line, teams like Iowa and Michigan desperately need a win in a cluttered middle of the pack.

Tournament Ramblings
The Big Ten has been very down this season, but the last week of the regular season was fairly exciting. The conference champion was in doubt until this past Sunday when Illinois squeaked out a controversial two-point win at Ohio State. Wisconsin, who had at least shared the title the previous two years, finished tied with Michigan State just one game back. If you're looking past those three teams to get NCAA bids, you will have to look hard. With bubble teams popping up all across the country, it will take a very nice showing (including an upset of Illinois) for either Iowa or Michigan to make a run at an NCAA berth. One interesting note: the Big Ten's championship game is the final one to be played and will likely end just prior to the announcement of the NCAA field of 65.

Projected Winner > Illinois
Illinois It's hard to pick against the regular season champs, who happen to be playing the best ball in the conference. Compared to the other teams' matchups, their first round game will be the easiest of the bunch, and likewise with their second round game. That's because teams like Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Purdue are all in the bottom half of the bracket.

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