With college basketball's regular season over, it's time for the NCAA tournament, more commonly known as "March Madness."
Before the tournament of 64 (68) teams take to the hardwood to determine this year's champion, there's still one matter to attend to: conference championships. On Sunday, the bracket was announced for the Big Ten Conference Tournament and with the action set to begin on Wednesday, March 11, here's a breakdown of the bracket and preview of the tournament.
At number two, Big Ten newcomer Maryland flexed their muscle throughout the season, but that should come as no shock. In the ACC, the Terrapins were a tough draw for any team. One question mark they carry, however, is their record on the road. In games played away from College Park, Md., the Terps are 8-4, with all four losses coming against Big Ten opponents, including Ohio State and Indiana.
The Big Ten's other addition, Rutgers, faltered their way to a last-placed seeding. Last year's tournament champion, Michigan State, is seeded third and have a difficult road ahead of them should they need to get past Ohio State and Maryland to reach the final. The Spartan's opponents in the 2014 title game, Michigan, face an equally difficult task to reach the championship game this time around.
Two teams outside of the top four seeds that should be closely watched both play on Thursday in second-round action. The Iowa Hawkeyes flew under the radar throughout the season, but they certainly flexed their fair share of muscle. The Indiana Hoosiers, they finished with a lackluster 9-9 conference record, but they played strong basketball throughout the season and gave plenty of strong teams a tough test.
Going round-by-round, below you'll find a prediction for the tournament.
- 13 Penn State vs. 12 Nebraska ---> 13 Penn State
- 14 Rutgers vs. 11 Minnesota ---> 11 Minnesota
- 9 Michigan vs. 8 Illinois ---> 9 Michigan
- 13 Penn State vs. 5 Iowa ---> 5 Iowa
- 10 Northwestern vs. 7 Indiana ---> 7 Indiana
- 11 Minnesota vs. 6 Ohio State ---> 6 Ohio State
- 9 Michigan vs. 1 Wisconsin ---> 1 Wisconsin
- 5 Iowa vs. 4 Purdue ---> 5 Iowa
- 7 Indiana vs. 2 Maryland ---> 2 Maryland
- 6 Ohio State vs. 3 Michigan State ---> 3 Michigan State
- 1 Wisconsin vs. 5 Iowa ---> 1 Wisconsin
- 2 Maryland vs. 3 Michigan State ---> 3 Michigan State
- 1 Wisconsin vs. 3 Michigan State ---> 1 Wisconsin
When the dust settles in Indianapolis, the Wisconsin Badgers will be crowned the 2015 Big Ten Conference Tournament Champions. After receiving a tough test from the upset-minded Hawkeyes in the semifinals, they'll pull away from the Spartans, fresh off a late-win over the Terrapins, in the championship game.
The action begins on Wednesday with Penn State and Nebraska tipping off the festivities at 4:30 p.m. ET.