MBB: Tip-Off Thursday

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Court.JPGWelcome to Thursday -- the first day of action at the 2011 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament.

Three games highlight today's slate, beginning with No. 8 seed Northwestern against No. 9 Minnesota at 2:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2.  No. 7 Michigan State and No. 10 Iowa follow at approximately 5 p.m., while No. 6 Penn State and No. 11 Indiana battle in the nightcap at approximately 7:30 p.m.

How do you follow along?  Below are the Gametracker links for each game:

Among the storylines, Minnesota and Northwestern played the first-ever Big Ten Tournament game in 1998, with the No. 8 Golden Gophers defeating the No. 9 Wildcats, 64-56.  The Minnesota win was later voided due to NCAA infractions.

In Game 2, Iowa leads the Big Ten Tournament series 2-1 over the Spartans, but in all three past matchups, one team has been the No. 2 seed.  This is the first time the two teams have met on the first day of action and the No. 7 seed is also the lowest seed ever for the Spartans.

In the nightcap, Indiana and Penn State each have a victory in the series, which have both come in the No. 6/11 matchup.  But how close will the game be?  The sixth-seeded Hoosiers earned a 28-point win in 2003, while the No. 6 Nittany Lions dropped IU by 15 in last year's meeting.  In the lone regular-season contest this year, Penn State topped Indiana by nine, 69-60.

Check out the breakdown below:

Game 1:  No. 8 Northwestern vs. No. 9 Minnesota  (2:30 p.m. ET)
Minnesota leads Big Ten Tournament series, 2-1 ('95 win vacated due to NCAA infractions)
1995, 1st, No. 8 Minnesota def. No. 9 Northwestern, 64-56
2003, 1st, No. 10 Northwestern def. No. 7 Minnesota, 76-64
2008, 1st, No. 6 Minnesota def. No. 11 Minnesota, 55-52
2009, 1st, No. 8 Minnesota def. No. 9 Northwestern, 66-53
Game 2:  No. 7 Michigan State vs. No. 10 Iowa  (Approximately 5 p.m. ET)
Iowa leads Big Ten Tournament series, 2-1
2000, Q, No. 2 Michigan State def. No. 7 Iowa, 75-65
2005, Q, No. 7 Iowa def. No. 2 Michigan State, 71-69
2006, S, No. 2 Iowa def. No. 6 Michigan State, 53-48
Game 3:  No. 6 Penn State vs. No. 11 Indiana  (Approximately 7:30 p.m. ET)
Big Ten Tournament series tied at 1-1
2003, 1st, No. 6 Indiana def. No. 11 Penn State, 77-49
2009, 1st, No. 6 Penn State def. No. 11 Indiana, 66-51


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