Big Ten Tournament 2012: Schedule And Bracket Released

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 13: A general view of the Penn State Nittany Lions bringing the ball up court against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the championship game of the 2011 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 13, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Ohio State won 71-60. (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)

The Big Ten tournament bracket was released over the weekend. The top four teams received first round byes, but the majority of the team's begin their conference tournament schedule on Thursday afternoon.

The Big Ten Tournament bracket was released over the weekend and, although the conference finished with a tie atop its leaderboard, the Michigan State Spartans will enter this week's tournament schedule with the top seed. The field will begin play Thursday, however, with the majority of the games being televised on either ESPN or the Big Ten Network.

Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin ended up as the top four teams following the conclusion of conference play, giving them a bye through the first round and allowing them to start play on Friday. The other eight teams in the Big Ten tournament (yes, we know that equals 12) will begin play starting at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday morning with the Iowa Hawkeyes and Illinois Fighting Illini.

The full schedule is included below. All times are Eastern.

Thursday, March 8, 2012
Game 1: No. 8 Iowa vs. No. 9 Illinois, 11:30 a.m., BTN
Game 2: No. 5 Indiana vs. No. 12 Penn State, 25 minutes following Game 1 conclusion, BTN
Game 3: No. 7 Northwestern vs. No. 10 Minnesota, 5:30 p.m., ESPN2
Game 4: No. 6 Purdue vs. No. 11 Nebraska, 25 minutes following Game 3 conclusion, ESPN2

Friday, March 9, 2012
Game 5: No. 1 Michigan State vs. Game 1 Winner, Noon, ESPN
Game 6: No. 4 Wisconsin vs. Game 2 Winner, 25 minutes following Game 5 conclusion, ESPN
Game 7: No. 2 Michigan vs. Game 3 Winner, 6:30 p.m., BTN
Game 8: No. 3 Ohio State vs. Game 4 Winner, 25 minutes following Game 7 conclusion, BTN

Saturday, March 10, 2012
Game 9: Game 5 Winner vs. Game 6 Winner, 1:40 p.m., CBS Sports
Game 10: Game 7 Winner vs. Game 8 Winner, 25 minutes following Game 9 conclusion, CBS Sports

Sunday, March 11, 2012
Game 11: Tournament Championship, 3:30 p.m., CBS Sports

If it's easier to understand with a visualization, we've got that taken care of as well:

Big_ten_tournament_bracket_2012_medium

For more on the Big Ten, be sure to visit SB Nation's BT Powerhouse.

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