March 5, 2006
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Park Ridge, Ill.-The field is set for the 2006 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament that will take place Thursday-Sunday, March 9-12, at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind. With its win Saturday night against Minnesota, Northwestern clinched the No. 9-seed and will play No. 8 Penn State in the opening round at Noon EST on ESPN2.
Northwestern has won its opening round game of the Big Ten tournament the past three seasons. Last season NU defeated Michigan in Chicago before falling to top-seeded Illinois. The Wildcats defeated Penn State in 2004 and Minnesota in 2003.
Ohio State (23-4/12-4) claimed the No. 1 seed after capturing the Big Ten title for the first time since the 2001-02 season. Iowa (22-8/11-5) and Illinois (25-5/11-5) ended the season tied for second place in the league standings. After winning the tiebreaker, the Hawkeyes earned the No. 2 seed, their highest seeding ever in conference tournament history, while the Fighting Illini nabbed the No. 3 spot. Wisconsin (19-10/9-7) and Indiana (17-10/9-7) finished in a tie for fourth place, however the Badgers were awarded the fourth seed based on their win over the Hoosiers on Feb. 8. Indiana claimed the fifth seed. Each of the top five teams receive a first-round bye and will start tournament play on Friday, March 10.
The ninth-annual Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament will tip off on Thursday, March 9, with No. 8 Penn State (14-13/6-10) taking on No. 9 Northwestern (14-14/6-10) at Noon EST on ESPN2. The Nittany Lions have earned their highest seeding since the 2001 Big Ten Tournament when PSU nabbed the No. 7 seed. The Wildcats will look to extend their streak as NU has advanced to the quarterfinals the last three years. The second game of the tournament will feature No. 7 Michigan (18-9/8-8) against No. 10 Minnesota (14-13/5-11) at approximately 2:30 p.m. EST on ESPN2. The final game on Thursday will include No. 6 Michigan State (20-10/8-8) and No. 11 Purdue (9-18/3-13) at roughly 5:05 p.m. EST on ESPN2.
Day two will begin with top-seeded Ohio State facing the winner of the Penn State/Northwestern game at Noon EST on ESPN. In 2002, the Buckeyes won their first-ever Big Ten Tournament crown in Indianapolis, defeating Iowa, which advanced to the finals despite being seeded ninth. Ohio State is the No. 1 seed for only the second time in tournament history as top-seeded OSU fell to Penn State in the quarterfinals of the 2000 Big Ten Tournament. Only twice has the No. 1 seed won the tournament title with Michigan State claiming the 1999 title and Illinois capturing the crown last year.
The second game features the No. 4/5 contest at approximately 2:30 p.m. EST on ESPN. Fourth-seeded Wisconsin, which won the Big Ten Tournament the last time it was in Indianapolis in 2004, and No. 5 Indiana will square off. Second-seeded Iowa will begin tournament action on Friday at 6:40 p.m. EST on ESPN Plus against the winner of the Michigan-Minnesota contest. The second day will conclude with No. 3 Illinois, the defending Big Ten Tournament champion, facing the Michigan State-Purdue winner at approximately 9:10 p.m. EST on ESPN Plus. The Fighting Illini are vying to advance to their fourth straight Big Ten Tournament championship game and become only the second squad to win the tournament crown in consecutive seasons. Michigan State is the only program to accomplish this feat as the Spartans won back-to-back titles in 1999 and 2000.
The Big Ten Tournament semifinals will take place on Saturday, March 11, with the first game beginning at 1:40 p.m. EST on CBS. Game two will start 30 minutes following the conclusion of game one at approximately 4:05 p.m. EST on CBS. The tournament will conclude with the championship game on Sunday, March 12, at 3:30 p.m. EST on CBS.
Six different teams have won the Big Ten Tournament in its first eight years, as previous winners include Illinois (2005, 2003), Wisconsin (2004), Ohio State (2002), Iowa (2001), Michigan State (2000, 1999) and Michigan (1998). Both all-session and single-session tickets for the 2006 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament are available to the general public at the Conseco Fieldhouse box office, Ticketmaster outlets, www.ticketmaster.com or by calling Ticketmaster at (317) 239-5151. Orders will be limited to 12 all-session tickets or 12 single-session tickets for each session.