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Big Ten Tournament Tips Off

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Mar 10, 2011 3:30PM

Big-Ten-Tournament-2011-300x175.jpg March Madness is upon us, but before we can get to the Big Dance, we've got to play the little ones first. The Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament opens play today in Indianapolis.

The eighth-seed Northwestern Wildcats faces ninth-seed Minnesota Golden Gophers in the first game, tipping off at 1:30 p.m. The winner faces top seed Ohio State tomorrow. Also playing today are seventh-seed Michigan State versus tenth-seed Iowa, and sixth-seed Penn State faces eleventh-seed Indiana.

The winner of the tournament will be crowned on Sunday and receives an automatic invitation to the NCAA tournament. A number of other teams are fighting to gain an invite to the Big Dance. While Ohio State, Purdue and Wisconsin are all locks to gain at-large bids even without earning the tourney crown, a number of other teams will have to make a deep run this weekend to earn their bid. Among those teams are the Illinois Fighting Illini and Michigan Wolverines. However, none of the teams playing today can expect to punch their ticket without surprising the field and winning the tournament.