By Chris Emma-
(CBS) March’s Madness is upon us at last! Tournament time is nearing as college basketball comes down to the thrilling finish.READ MORE: Chicago Police Restrict Time Off For Officers Amid Battle Between City Hall, FOP Over COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate
Chicago is set to play host to the Big Ten Tournament, beginning Wednesday at United Center. This restructured 14-team field has a lot of intrigue.
What’s the best-case and worst-case scenario for each team taking the floor in Chicago? Let’s take a look and have some fun.
No. 1 Wisconsin (28-3, 16-2)
Best-case: In line for a No. 1 seed, the Badgers run through their three games in Chicago with relative ease, as they have all season long. It cements a top seed and keeps Wisconsin out of Kentucky’s region in the NCAA Tournament.
Worst-case: Wisconsin goes down to Maryland in the title game, and the loss gets the Badgers stuck in the same region as the undefeated Wildcats, setting up a classic showdown in the Elite Eight. The way Wisconsin’s playing, I don’t see anything worse happening.
No. 2 Maryland (26-5, 14-4)
Best-case: Melo Trimble plays out of his mind and torches the Big Ten field en route to the Terrapins taking the conference tournament in their first chance.
Worst-case: The Terrapins show up at the ACC Tournament by mistake. Either that or get bounced by Northwestern on Friday, though I don’t see either of those happening.
No. 3 Michigan State (21-10, 12-6)
Best-case: Tom Izzo gets his team playing like Michigan State in March, and the Spartans claim another tournament crown with their rugged style and find the form to do damage in the NCAA Tournament.
Worst-case: The Spartans continue to underachieve and go quietly on Friday in a loss to the talented D’Angelo Russell and his Buckeyes. Seriously, this is when an Izzo team should be rolling.
No. 4 Purdue (20-11, 12-6)
Best-case: The Boilers keep to their winning ways in the quarterfinals before a tough semifinal loss to the Badgers, further proving the past two seasons were a bad dream.
Worst-case: A series of bad breaks leads either Penn State or Nebraska to a Friday upset of Purdue, and the bad loss costs it a chance at the NCAA Tournament.
No. 5 Iowa (21-10, 12-6)
Best-case: A sexy sleeper pick, Iowa earns a comfortable win against a 12- or 13-seed Thursday and then bounces Purdue on Friday, setting up a chance against Wisconsin in the semifinals.
Worst-case: Fran McCaffery draws a technical foul so egregious that he’s suspended for the NCAA Tournament. Iowa doesn’t have much else to lose.
No. 6 Ohio State (22-9, 11-7)
Best-case: D’Angelo Russell plays like an NBA lottery pick and propels the Buckeyes to a deep run. The freshman is making fans forget about four years of worshiping Aaron Craft.
Worst-case: Minnesota pulls off the upset and continues Ohio State’s underwhelming trend into the tournament.
No. 7 Indiana (19-12, 9-9)
Best-case: The Hoosiers lose, and Tom Crean is fired.READ MORE: Artist Nate Baranowski Uses Chalk Art To Bring Halloween Festivity To Howard Street In Rogers Park
Worst-case: The Hoosiers win enough to justify keeping Tom Crean around.
No. 8 Illinois (19-12, 9-9)
Best-case: A win over Michigan and and a down-to-the-wire loss to Wisconsin proves enough to the committee to sneak into the NCAA Tournament.
Worst-case: Losing to the Wolverines in Thursday’s opener would seal the NIT fate of the Illini.
No. 9 Michigan (15-15, 8-10)
Best-case: Spike Albrecht plays like he did in the 2013 championship game, carries the Wolverines to a Thursday second-round win and scores Kate Upton’s number.
Worst-case: A loss in the quarterfinals finishes an injury-ravaged sub-.500 season for the Wolverines.
No. 10 Northwestern (15-16, 6-12)
Best-case: Northwestern pulls out wins over Indiana (done it once), Maryland (came so close) and Michigan State (close, as well) to make a miraculous run to the title on the softer side of the bracket.
Worst-case: Indiana plays to its potential and knocks off Northwestern in the quarterfinals.
No. 11 Minnesota (17-14, 6-12)
Best-case: The Golden Gophers play up to their talents and upset the Buckeyes in the second round and the Spartans in the quarterfinals before running out of gas in Saturday’s semifinals.
Worst-case: On a Wednesday evening in front of a sparse crowd, Minnesota suffers an embarrassing loss to Rutgers. Yeesh.
No. 12 Nebraska (13-17, 5-13)
Best-case: An abysmal Big Ten season ends with a run through the conference tournament. OK, that run is just a win over Penn State. Nothing more is happening.
Worst-case: The Cornhuskers stay ice cold offensively and bow out to the Nittany Lions.
No. 13 Penn State (16-15, 4-14)
Best-case: D.J. Newbill does D.J. Newbill things and the Nittany Lions pull out a close win in the first round, then hang around the Hawkeyes on Thursday for a half.
Worst-case: Another gut-wrenching loss ends the season.
No. 14 Rutgers (10-21, 2-16)
Best-case: Probably nothing, but remember that win over Wisconsin?
Worst-case: Everything has been pretty bad for Rutgers already. Can it really get worse?MORE NEWS: City Officials, Community Leaders Hit Streets To Urge People To Get First COVID-19 Shots, Boosters, And Flu Shots
Follow Chris on Twitter @CEmma670.