Wisconsin (21-6/12-4) and Michigan State (17-10/12-4) ended the regular season tied for second place. The Badgers, who finished just one game back in their quest for a third straight title, were granted the No. 2 seed based on a 2-0 record against the Spartans, who were seeded third. Iowa (16-11/9-7) earned the fourth seed, the program's highest seed in Conference Tournament play, while Michigan (17-10/8-8) nabbed the fifth seed after winning a tie-breaker, as each of the top five teams receive a first-round bye and will start tournament play on Friday, March 12.
The seventh-annual Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament will tip off on Thursday, March 11, with No. 8 Indiana (13-14/7-9) taking on No. 9 Ohio State (14-15/6-10) at noon EST on ESPN. The Buckeyes have advanced to the finals in each of the last two Conference Tournaments, winning the title the first time the event was held at Conseco Fieldhouse in 2002, while the Hoosiers have reached at least the semifinals in each of Mike Davis' three years as head coach. The second game of the Tournament will feature No. 7 Purdue (17-12/7-9) against No. 10 Minnesota (11-17/3-13) at approximately 2:30 p.m. EST on ESPN. The final game on Thursday will include No. 6 Northwestern (13-14/8-8) and No. 11 Penn State (9-18/3-13) at roughly 5:05 p.m. EST on ESPN2.
Day two will begin with top-seeded Illinois facing the winner of the Indiana/Ohio State game at noon EST on ESPN. The Illini will look to reverse recent history, as the No. 1 seed has been knocked off in its first game in four of the six events, including each of the last two years. The last top seed to advance past the quarterfinals was Illinois in 2001. The second game features the No. 4/5 contest at approximately 2:30 p.m. EST on ESPN, as No. 4 Iowa and No. 5 Michigan will square off for the first time in Big Ten Tournament play since 1998. The Hawkeyes, who became the lowest-seeded team to win the event as a No. 6 seed in 2001, advanced to the finals the last time the event was held in Indianapolis despite being seeded ninth. Second-seeded Wisconsin will begin its quest for a first tourney championship on Friday at 6:40 p.m. EST on ESPN Plus against the Purdue/Minnesota victor. The Badgers have been knocked out in their first game in each of the last three years, including as the top seed the last two seasons. The second day will conclude with No. 3 Michigan State facing the Northwestern/Penn State winner at approximately 9:10 p.m. EST on ESPN Plus, as the Spartans are the only team to win multiple Big Ten Tournament crowns.
The Big Ten Tournament semifinals will take place on Saturday, March 13, with the first game beginning at 1:40 p.m. EST on CBS. Game two will start 30 minutes following the conclusion of game one at approximately 4:05 p.m. EST on CBS. The Tournament will conclude with the championship game on Sunday, March 14, at 3:30 p.m. EST on CBS.
Five different teams have won the Big Ten Tournament in its first six years, as Illinois was victorious in 2003 while previous winners include Ohio State (2002), Iowa (2001), Michigan State (2000, 1999) and Michigan (1998). A limited number of full-session ticket packages and single-session tickets for the 2004 Big Ten Conference Tournament are still available and on sale to the general public. Tickets can be purchased at the Conseco Fieldhouse box office, all Ticketmaster outlets, Ticketmaster charge-by-phone numbers and www.ticketmaster.com