The coverage of the 2011 Big Ten Tournament will shift from ESPN to the Big Ten Network this evening, and while they'll be hard-pressed to follow up the action that we got in the two early games, we should still get a couple of pretty good contests.
The first game of tonight's session from Conseco Fieldhouse will pit the second-seeded Purdue Boilermakers against the seventh-seeded Michigan State Spartans. Michigan State got here by knocking off the Iowa Hawkeyes in the opening round of the tournament last night.
Over at Hammer and Rails, SB Nation's Purdue blog, they seem to like their chances against the Spartans this time around.
I am very wary of playing the Spartans for a third time, but I am encouraged that we drilled them both times. The second half of our game in East Lansing is about the best we have played all year, especially withtearing them apart. They have yet to prove this season they can stop LewJack, or for that matter. I think our guys have been itching for another game all week to get the bad taste of that Iowa game out of their mouths. It is good that Michigan State won, because if we had lost to Iowa again we would have probably dropped to a four seed. Now I think we have a three seed even if we lose to Michigan State because they are good, desperate team trying to get into the NCAA's. a win makes a two seed a very strong possibility, especially if some other things go our way.
Over at The Only Colors, Spartan fans know what's on the line for this one.
So, it hasn't been the best day so far for MSU's bid chances. Viz.:
- Michigan finished the game on a 21-4 run to beat Illinois. Michigan essentially clinches a tournament bid, and Illinois is probably still in good shape (even though their profile is remarkably similar to MSU's).
- Alabama beat Georgia. Both teams are likely to make the tournament now.
- Dayton beat Xavier. Normally we're all about Brian Gregory's team, but he certainly didn't do us a solid by probably creating an additional bid for the A-10.
On a more positive note, Clemson and North Carolina won, but those good results certainly don't cancel out the bad things that have happened so far today.
Obviously, MSU can end the discussion entirely with a win against Purdue.
The Spartans haven't been terribly competitive in two match-ups against the Boilermakers this season, but March has a way of bringing out the best in teams. Things will tip off at 5:30 PM Central time on the Big Ten Network.