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Big Ten Tournament: What you need to know

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For more on college athletics, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at pdiprimio.

Seeing the Hoosiers at the line is a good thing

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 - 7:01 am

INDIANA

Record: 26-5

Key Players: Victor Oladipo (13.7 points, 6.2 rebounds), Cody Zeller (16.8 points, 8.1 rebounds), Christian Watford (12.4 points, 6.4 rebounds)

A good sign for the Hoosiers: If they get to the free-throw line. They lead the Big Ten in free-throw shooting, at 74.3 percent.

A bad sign for the Hoosiers: If they don't win the rebound battle. Controlling the boards is huge for their postseason prospects.

ILLINOIS

Record: 21-11

Key Players: Brandon Paul (16.3 points), D.J. Richardson (12.8 points)

A good sign for the Illini: If the game turns into a three-point shootout. They lead the Big Ten by making 7.9 three-pointers a game.

A bad sign for the Illini: If they don't hit from beyond the arc. The three-point shot dominates their offense. If they can't make 'em, they can't win.

IOWA

Record: 20-11

Key Players: Roy Devyn Marble (14.1 points), Aaron White (13.6 points)

A good sign for the Hawkeyes: If they rebound to their Big Ten-leading standards (39.5 a game), they will be positioned for a win over Northwestern.

A bad sign for the Hawkeyes: If their defense sputters. They lead the Big Ten in shooting defense, holding teams to 38.7 percent shooting, and in three-point defense, holding teams to 29.1 percent.

MICHIGAN

Record: 25-6

Key Players: Trey Burke (19.2 points), Tim Hardaway (14.8 points)

A good sign for the Wolverines: If they keep turnovers to a minimum. They average just 9.3 turnovers a game, the best in the Big Ten.

A bad sign for the Wolverines: If Nik Stauskas is misfiring from three-point range. He's a 45.8-percent shooter from beyond the arc and provides a major third scoring option after Burke and Hardaway.

MICHIGAN STATE

Record: 24-7

Key Players: Keith Appling (13.5 points), Gary Harris (13.2 points), Adriean Payne (10.1 points, 7.5 rebounds)

A good sign for the Spartans: If they dictate pace. They like to rebound and run, a trait that has made coach Tom Izzo's program a perennial national power.

A bad sign for the Spartans: If they can't get their fast break going. They can win in a half-court game, but they're much better in transition.

MINNESOTA

Record: 20-11

Key Players: Trevor Mbakwe (8.7 rebounds), Rodney Williams (10.5 points), Andre Hollins (13.9 points)

A good sign for the Gophers: If the Gophers are pounding the glass. When motivated, they are a ferocious rebounding team behind Mbakwe, who leads the Big Ten in rebounding and double-doubles (10).

A bad sign for the Gophers: If they don't play inside defense, they have almost no chance. This has been a problem since the beginning of January.

NEBRASKA

Record: 14-17

Key Players: Dylan Talley (14.2 points), Ray Gallegos (12.8 points)

A good sign for the Cornhuskers: If they can keep the score under 60 points. They are offensively challenged, so controlling the tempo is crucial.

A bad sign for the Cornhuskers: They are not a deep team, so if they get in foul trouble or are forced to go to their bench early and often, they're in big trouble.

NORTHWESTERN

Record: 13-18

Key Players: Reggie Hearn (13.2 points), Dave Sobolewski (3.9 assists)

A good sign for the Wildcats: If they can hit their shots. They're not a great shooting team, but if the Princeton offense is clicking and the back-door cuts are working, they'll be tough to handle.

A bad sign for the Wildcats: If the game depends on rebounding, they are in trouble. Northwestern is last in the league at 30.6 boards. It gets out-rebounded by 6.5 boards a game.

OHIO STATE

Record: 23-7

Key Players: Aaron Craft (4.5 assists, 2.0 steals), Deshaun Thomas (19.7 points, 6.1 rebounds)

A good sign for the Buckeyes: If Craft's recent offensive surge continues. They've needed a second scoring option after Thomas. He's delivered during their five-game winning streak.

A bad sign for the Buckeyes: If Thomas isn't hitting his shots. He's been the one consistent offensive factor all season and if he struggles, the Buckeyes will, too.

PENN STATE

Record: 10-20

Key Players: Ross Travis (7.3 rebounds), D.J. Newbill (16.1 points), Jermaine Marshall (15.5 points).

A good sign for the Nittany Lions: If they can get the early jump on Michigan. They've beaten the Wolverines once in one of college basketball's biggest upsets. A fast start could lead to another.

A bad sign for the Nittany Lions: They have to keep Michigan out of the paint, which means keeping Trey Burke out of the paint. Good luck.

PURDUE

Record: 15-16

Key Players: Terone Johnson (13.5 points, 2.8 assists), A.J. Hammons (10.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.0 blocks), Ronnie Johnson (4.0 assists)

A good sign for the Boilers: If they play hard. It took them most of the season to figure out how to play with the necessary effort and intensity

A bad sign for the Boilers: If D.J. Byrd isn't hitting from the perimeter. When he's on, the Boilers can beat anyone. When he's not, life is unpleasant.

WISCONSIN

Record: 21-10

Key Players: Jared Berggren (11.5 points, 7.1 rebounds), Ben Brust (11.3 points, 5.2 rebounds), Mike Bruesewitz (5.2 rebounds)

A good sign for the Badgers: If they score more than 60 points. They only give up a Big Ten-best 56.0 points.

A bad sign for the Badgers: If they get to the free-throw line. They are the Big Ten's worst free-throw shooting team, at 63.0 percent.