The Big Ten Tournament commences in Indianapolis on Wednesday, with Rutgers, Illinois, Minnesota and Nebraska opening the proceedings at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. No. 12 seed Illinois begins the day against No. 13 seed Minnesota, then No. 11 seed Nebraska takes on No. 14 seed Rutgers.
The Illini (5-13 Big Ten) and Golden Gophers (2-16 Big Ten) play for a shot at No. 5 seed Iowa in the second round, but neither team has produced much of note on offense this year. Illinois is grubbing around at 232nd in the country on 42.9 percent field goal shooting, while Minnesota's 40.6 percent shooting ranks 315th. Nor does either club enjoy an impressive pace of play, with the Illini and Gophers ranking 141st and 197th by Ken Pomeroy. Illinois does hold the Big Ten's high free-throw shooting percentage, though.
Malcolm Hill and Mike Thorne lead Illinois in scoring with 18.6 and 12.9 points per outing currently, a duet of upperclassmen that will face down Minnesota's Nate Mason and Joey King. Mason's 13.8 leads all Gopher scoring this season, and the sophomore guard dropped 21 points in a loss to Indiana back on Jan. 30.
Rutgers (1-17 Big Ten) has had an abysmal season, and the Scarlet Knights may be the worst major conference basketball team ever. Rutgers came close to notching their first conference win back on Feb. 3 in a three-overtime thriller against Illinois that ended 110-101 the wrong way. They eventually beat Minnesota 75-52 in the last game of the regular season. Corey Sanders leads the Scarlet Knights in scoring with 16.2 points per game, and his 4.3 assists average is top on a team that ranks 277th in total assists.
Nebraska (6-12 Big Ten) enters Wednesday as the class of the opening round, shooting 44.4 percent from the field. The Huskers tallied a wild 72-71 win over Michigan State back on Jan. 20 but have since gone 2-9 to close out the season. Shavon Shields poured in 28 points that night, and he's second on the team with 16.4 points per game. Andrew White III leads all Huskers with 16.5 points per outing, while his 48.5 field goal percentage this season ranks him second in the conference.
Keep up to date with the Big Ten Tournament bracket, schedule and scores here.
Schedule (all times Eastern)
Wednesday, March 9 (First Round)
Game 1: No. 12 Illinois 85, No. 13 Minnesota 52
Game 2: No. 11 Nebraska vs. No. 14 Rutgers (7 p.m., BTN)