By Adam Hoge-
UNITED CENTER (CBS) A quick look at what to watch for Friday as the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals are played in Chicago:
No. 1 Indiana (26-5, 14-4) vs No. 8 Illinois (22-11, 8-10)
What’s At Stake: A No. 1 seed for Indiana. With a quick exit Friday, the Hoosiers might very well fall off the 1-line. If that happens, it’s possible the Big Ten — by far the best conference all season — ends up with zero No. 1 seeds. For Illinois, it’s simple, win and move up in the seeding process.
Players To Watch: Brandon Paul and Victor Oladipo. After a 25-point effort Thursday, Paul said Oladipo “gets me better every time I step on the court with him.”
Quick Pick: Indiana. While Paul was spectacular Thursday, the rest of the Illini didn’t show up and Illinois was fortunate to get a win. The Hoosiers will have redemption on their mind after their Feb. 7 loss in Champaign. They’re also a better team.
No. 4 Wisconsin (21-10, 12-6) vs No. 5 Michigan (26-6, 12-6)
What’s At Stake: Seeding for both teams, but also a chance to get better for the Badgers. Wisconsin ended the regular season on a terrible run, needing a Traevon Jackson buzzer shot at Penn State to avoid an 0-3 finish. Michigan has been flaky of late and both teams could use a big win.
Players To Watch: Sam Dekker and Trey Burke. If Dekker blossoms in March, the Badgers could play into the Elite Eight. If not, it will be hard to get out of the Round of 32. Burke, meanwhile, presents a tough matchup for Wisconsin, which lacks a shutdown defender in the backcourt.
Quick Pick: Michigan. Wisconsin is actually the safer pick given how they matchup as a whole against Michigan, but the Wolverines are the more talented team and it’s hard to trust the Badgers’ shooting right now. As always with Wisconsin, I’m prepared to be wrong.
No. 2 Ohio State (23-7, 13-5) vs No. 10 Nebraska (15-17, 5-13)
What’s At Stake: Seeding for Ohio State and a postseason tournament for Nebraska. Despite holding the 2-seed in the Big Ten Tournament, the Buckeyes currently lag behind both Michigan and Michigan State for NCAA seeding. They could use a nice run this weekend. Nebraska still has their eyes set on the CBI.
Players To Watch: Deshaun Thomas and Dylan Talley. Nebraska isn’t going to have much of an answer defensively for the Big Ten’s leading scorer. Meanwhile, Talley had a quiet game against Purdue, but should play better against the Buckeyes — assuming Aaron Craft takes Ray Gallegos.
Quick Pick: Ohio State. Tim Miles deserves credit for winning six Big Ten games (including the Tournament win Thursday), but the Cornhuskers will struggle to score against the Buckeyes’ defense. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this one be close, but OSU will win.
No. 3 Michigan State (24-7, 13-5) vs No. 6 Iowa (20-11, 9-9)
What’s At Stake: Seeding for MSU and a possible NCAA berth for Iowa. With a run this weekend, Michigan State could earn a No. 1 seed, while Iowa could play its way into the NCAA Tournament. The Hawkeyes probably at least need to get to Sunday to have a chance at an at-large berth.
Players To Watch: Roy Devyn Marble and Gary Harris. Iowa’s leading scorer has to play at a high level for Iowa to win today. MSU’s Harris might just be a freshman, but the Spartans are a different team when he’s contributing.
Quick Pick: Iowa. Crazy things happen on Friday nights at the Big Ten Tournament. Fran McCaffery has his team playing well and they need this one more than the Spartans.
For coverage throughout the Big Ten Tournament, follow Adam on Twitter at @AdamHogeCBS.