Originally written on BuckeyeBanter.com  |  Last updated 11/13/14

The Ohio State Buckeyes pose with their hardware after defeating Penn State in the championship game, 71-60, in the 2011 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 13, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Getty Images)

The 2012 Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament returns to Indianapolis for the fifth consecutive year, which tips off with eight-seeded Iowa taking on ninth-seed Illinois at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Thursday morning at 11:30 a.m. ET.

There are four first round games on Thursday followed by four quarterfinal games on Friday, which includes No. 3-seed Ohio State taking on the winner of the Purdue-Nebraska game at approximately 8:55 p.m. ET. A champion will be crowned on Sunday.

Since its inception, the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament has seen six different conference representatives crowned champion. Ohio State is the only team with three tournament titles (2007, 2010, 2011).

Thad Matta is making his eighth trip to the Big Ten tournament as the head coach of Ohio State and is 14-4 overall. He has guided the Buckeyes to the championship game in five of those seven years, winning the whole enchilada three times, including the last two. When Ohio State has had a first round bye under Matta’s direction, the Buckeyes have made it to the finals each time, four in all.

Ohio State has the best overall record entering the tournament with a 25-6 mark and is the highest ranked team at No. 7 in both polls, yet the Buckeyes were tabbed as a three-seed based solely on the fact that Michigan State and Michigan had better records against Wisconsin. The Spartans swept the Badgers in two games while the Wolverines played them once, winning at home. OSU split a pair of games against UW.

The two hottest teams coming into the tournament are No. 4-seed Wisconsin and No. 5-seed Indiana. Both have won three-straight in conference play and are 4-1 in the last five Big Ten contests. They will likely meet in the quarterfinals on Friday. Michigan has also won four out of the last five in league action and have secured wins in the last two. Ohio State and Michigan State are both 3-2 in their last five Big Ten games, but are going in the opposite directions. The Buckeyes have won two-straight, while the Spartans dropped a pair of decisions last week to Indiana and Ohio State.

The darkhorse heading into the tournament is clearly Northwestern, who’s looking to earn the schools first-ever NCAA tournament bid. The Wildcats are 3-2 in the last five Big Ten games and have won 6 out of the last 10 in the conference. Northwestern definitely needs a quality win in the tournament as they are just 1-10 against the RPI top 50.

Ohio State’s likely opponent in the quarterfinals is No. 6-seed Purdue. The Boilermakers have garnered victories in three out of the last five Big Ten contests and are 6-4 in the last 10 league tilts. They are one of seven teams in the conference that are above the .500 mark during that span.

As for the Buckeyes, they are coming off of a huge, come-from-behind win at Michigan State last Sunday, and have some momentum going into the tournament. The question remains, with a thin bench, can Ohio State win three games in three days? Though they are a three-seed, Ohio State did get a favorable draw and if everything pans out, will face Michigan in the semifinals. Much rather face the Wolverines in the semis as oppose to a Michigan State or Wisconsin.

I think Ohio State has the best team in the field and should lock up their three-straight Big Ten tournament title.

Seed Team Rankings RPI vs. RPI Top 50 Streak Last 5 Last 10 1 Michigan State 8/8 5 9-6 Lost 2 3-2 7-3 2 Michigan 10/13 12 9-6 Won 2 4-1 7-3 3 Ohio State 7/7 8 9-5 Won 2 3-2 7-3 4 Wisconsin 14/12 21 6-6 Won 3 4-1 7-3 5 Indiana 15/15 11 8-4 Won 3 4-1 7-3 6 Purdue NR 42 5-8 Lost 1 3-2 6-4 7 Northwestern NR 48 1-10 Won 1 3-2 6-4 8 Iowa NR 132 4-9 Lost 1 3-2 5-5 9 Illinois NR 83 4-11 Lost 2 1-4 2-8 10 Minnesota NR 90 3-9 Won 1 1-4 3-7 11 Nebraska NR 149 2-10 Lost 4 1-4 2-8 12 Penn State NR 158 2-12 Lost 4 1-4 2-8



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