WASHINGTON — The Big Ten Tournament marches on Friday in the nation's capital. Here's a look at the day's games. All times are Central.
No. 1 Purdue vs. No. 8 Michigan
11 a.m., ESPN
The Wolverines are now the tournament's sentimental favorites after following up their travel nightmare with a 20-point pounding of Illinois on Thursday. After high winds forced an aborted takeoff that resulted in the team plane sliding off the runway on Wednesday, it became clear Thursday how horrifying an ordeal Michigan had to go through. For the Wolverines to emotionally and mentally overcome that, get back on a plane, fly to D.C. and dismantle the Illini was an impressive accomplishment — practice uniforms and all. Of course Purdue is a much different task than Illinois, meaning Michigan will have to again be firing on all cylinders Friday. The good news for the Wolverines is that they beat the Boilermakers just recently on the second-to-last weekend of the regular season. But without a doubt Purdue is the best team in this conference with the without-a-doubt best player in this conference in Caleb Swanigan.
No. 4 Minnesota vs. No. 5 Michigan State
1:30 p.m., ESPN
They always say it's hard to beat the same team three times in the same season. That'll be what Michigan State is trying to do Friday against Minnesota, a team that won eight of its final nine regular-season games. None of those wins were against the Spartans, though, with the teams' two previous meetings coming early during conference play. Michigan State won an overtime classic in the first meeting. The Golden Gophers are a bit different team these days, with offensive firepower all over the place and strong defensive skills, though they did stumble in the most recent game they played, a 17-point loss at Wisconsin. Michigan State, meanwhile, is coming off a throttling of Penn State on Thursday. The Spartans were unstoppable in that one, with Miles Bridges and Nick Ward having big games, but it was on defense where they looked the most impressive.
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No. 2 Wisconsin vs. No. 10 Indiana
5:30 p.m., Big Ten Network
Indiana looked real good Thursday night, outscoring Iowa by 19 in the second half. The Hoosiers were on fire shooting the ball and went 12-for-20 from 3-point range. But while Indiana has a tendency to run up big point totals — Thursday's 95 points were just a couple away from the Big Ten Tournament record — don't expect a similar game Friday night against Wisconsin. The Hawkeyes are the league's worst defensive team, and apparently even a four-game winning streak couldn't stop them from surrendering a boatload of points to the Hoosiers. Meanwhile, the Badgers are the Big Ten's best defensive team, allowing an average of just 61.6 points a game, or nearly 34 fewer than the Hoosiers scored Thursday. Still, this Wisconsin team might not be completely out of a funk that saw it lose five of its last seven in the regular season.
No. 3 Maryland vs. No. 6 Northwestern
8 p.m., Big Ten Network
The Cats' offensive prayers were answered Thursday night in one of the team's best offensive performances of the season. Northwestern shot 60 percent from the field and went on a 31-0 run in the first half to stomp Rutgers, getting 16-point nights from Vic Law and Scottie Lindsey, who need to be producing if the Cats want to keep winning in March. And the defense that's been a hallmark of this team was there, too. The Terps, though, are a different breed than the Scarlet Knights, and Northwestern has had its challenges against Maryland in recent seasons. That includes earlier this year when the Terps went into Evanston and won big, Melo Trimble destroying the Cats with 30 points in that one. Maryland closed out its regular-season schedule with back-to-back wins, and it will be the only team with any sort of home-court advantage this week. A tall task for Northwestern to keep things going.