By JOHN BOSCHINI
It's no seceret that the Big Ten has been underperforming in 2011 but the lack of a dominant team should make for an interesting tournament as the Big Ten Tournament kicks off at the University of Michigan.
Indiana is the lone ranked team in the Big Ten but a loss against Wisconsin and draws against Northwestern and Michigan State has relegated the Hoosiers to the No. 4 seed and face a difficult road to the final. Northwestern is the only side with an automatic bye into the semifinals and are the only team unbeaten in conference play.
Sixth-seeded Michigan is playing with desperation and is hoping to replicate its postseason success from last season. Nothing short of a conference title will get the Wolverines into the NCAA tournament, but their recent shocking upset of Akron provided a glimpse of Michigan's potential.
No. 3 Wisconsin and No. 2 Ohio State in need a couple of wins to garauntee a place in the NCAA tournament. The two schools are 38th and 43rd, respectively, in the RPI, which puts them in need of some help to force their way into the tournament.
The worst-case scenario for the Big Ten as a whole is if Indiana rolls past Northwestern and claims the conference title. The selection committee could look down on Northwestern's 4-0 loss to DePaul and a defeat to Eastern Illinois and leave the conference with only one team in the NCAA tournament.
Here is a look at the full schedule for the Big Ten conference tournament:
Game 1: #4 Indiana vs. #5 Michigan State, 1 p.m.
Game 2: #2 Ohio State vs. #7 Penn State, 3:45 p.m.
Game 3: #3 Wisconsin vs. #6 Michigan, 6:30 p.m.
Semifinal 1: #1 Northwestern vs. Game 1 winner, 1 p.m.
Semifinal 2: Game 2 winner vs. Game 3 winner, 3:30 p.m.
Championship, 12 p.m.
What do you think of the Big Ten tournament? Can anyone get off the bubble and into the tournament? Expect Indiana to excel despite an abject conference record? Will Northwestern ride an unbeaten conference schedule to a title?
Share your thoughts below.