Dienhart: Four quick thoughts for Day 2

Thursday’s action will be difficult to top, as every game had drama. Friday will try to live up to that billing with four interesting tilts. Here is one though on each game.

[ MORE: Day 1 stars | Day 2 previews | Get all of our Big Ten tourney coverage ]

1. No. 1 Michigan just may have a shot at a top seed in the NCAA tourney with Villanova losing early in the Big East tourney. It would be hard to ignore the Wolverines being regular-season and tourney champs in a very strong Big Ten. But Michigan must be on upset alert vs. a pesky Illinois team that plays good defense as it chases a faint NCAA dream. The Illini probably have to get to the Big Ten tourney title game to earn a Big Dance bid. And would even that be enough?

2. No. 4 Nebraska will attempt to author another chapter in its Cinderella story when it takes on No. 5 Ohio State. The Cornhuskers are projected already to be in the Big Dance. But a win here certainly would seal the deal. The Buckeyes will contest every shot as they look to improve their NCAA stock in a Big Ten tourney that Thad Matta has owned in recent seasons.

3. Minnesota’s NCAA life may be in the balance when it plays fierce rival Wisconsin, the No. 2 seed. I expect lots of up and down action from two teams that can score. Who can get the most stops? Love the guard play in this one. Also love young Pitino vs. wily Ryan. If Minnesota wins, it’s in the Big Dance. Book it.

4. Northwestern suddenly is a tourney darling after it dumped No. 6 Iowa last night. The No. 11 Wildcats play good defense and have a legit star in Drew Crawford. The problem? No. 3 Michigan State plays better defense and has more stars. And the Spartans also have more of a sense of urgency to get on track for a postseason run after a disappointing regular season.

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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