Mar 13, 2024 - Sports

Top storylines to watch as men's Big Ten tournament begins

Purdue basketball player Zach Edey.

Confetti falls after the Boilermakers win the regular season Big Ten Championship on March 2. Photo: Jeffrey Brown/Getty Images

After the women of the Big Ten created madness with the most-watched women's conference tournament game of all time, it's now time for the men to tip off.

Why it matters: This tournament is Purdue's to lose. The Boilermakers are the defending tournament and regular season champions, and much of that has to do with the stellar play of standout center Zach Edey, who is in his last year with the team.

Driving the news: The action kicks off Wednesday night in Minneapolis with Rutgers versus Maryland and Michigan versus Penn State.

  • Indiana will play the winner of the Michigan and Penn State game Thursday night.
  • As the top seed, the Boilermakers enjoy a double bye and will take the court Friday afternoon to face the winner of Thursday's matchup between Minnesota and Michigan State.

Here are some storylines that will define the Big Ten tournament:

🚂 Zach Edey = player of the year. Again.

  • Edey is likely on his way to a second-straight National Player of the Year award after locking down the Big Ten award Tuesday.
  • No one has won the award in consecutive years since Ralph Sampson did it from 1981-1983, and the only other men's player to pull it off was Bill Walton from 1972-1974.

🌽 Nebraska is no joke

  • After losing their trio of top scorers and coming off of just a decent previous season, the Cornhuskers weren't expected to set the court on fire this year.
  • But they enter the Big Ten tournament with the third-best record in the conference, a commanding victory against Michigan to close the season and a 5-0 record against the teams they might face in their first game Friday night.

📣 Making noise in Illinois

  • As the No. 2 and No. 4 seeds respectively, there is no reason hoops fans should look past Illinois and Northwestern.
  • Illinois is one of just four teams nationally to notch 20-win regular seasons each of the last five years, and Northwestern tied a program record with 12 conference wins this season.

❓ What about those Hoosiers?

  • The IU men come into the tournament as a No. 6 seed and on a four-game win streak, making them technically one of the hottest teams in the conference along with Ohio State (on a four-win streak) and Purdue (five-win streak).

How to watch: First-round games will stream live on Peacock. Second-round and quarterfinal games will be on the Big Ten Network. The semifinals and championship game will air on CBS.

💭 Justin's thought bubble: If the Big Ten isn't your jam and you're looking for a team of hometown heroes to root for, Butler's men's basketball team begins its Big East tournament bid Wednesday at 4pm against Xavier on FS1.

  • The Bulldogs are the No. 8 seed, closing the season with a pair of wins, including over Xavier on March 6.
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