Good picks, Chorlton. I see the tournament going down much the same way, but I will mix it up a little.
The Illinois / Minnesota game is clearly the best game on Thursday, and it's too bad it's stuck at the 11 a.m. slot. Both teams have had high highs and low lows already this year, and neither is playing particularly well at the moment. But both will have a legitimate chance to beat Indiana if they win. In my view, Minnesota is clearly the better team. But Illinois may have a bit of a home-court advantage playing in Chicago. Since you took Minnesota, I'll go with Illinois.
I will take the other favorites on Thursday: Iowa, Purdue, and Michigan.
Indiana over Illinois, and Michigan over Wisconsin on Friday morning. Both should be good games.
I agree there will be an upset in the Friday night games, but I'm going with Purdue over Ohio State. They are playing really well right now. Ohio State has been impressive lately too, coming off their shocking win at Indiana. Thad Matta has done a great job this season, and I wouldn't have complained if he'd won another coach of the year instead of Bo. But this is still a team with vulnerabilities, and I think they'll go down. Iowa certainly could beat MSU, but I will take the favorite there. I'd rather Iowa not make the tournament, even though they're probably good enough, because I'd rather the conference's mediocre teams not dilute its tournament record.
In the semis, I've got Michigan over Indiana and MSU over Purdue, setting up a great rivalry game for the championship. The Wolverines will cut down the nets. It is kind of unbelievable that they are the five-seed in the Big Ten tournament, and I think a championship is necessary for some karmic rebalancing.
Knowing your picks, the easy thing for me to do would have been to take Indiana all the way, since they are the favorite and clearly the best team in the conference. But I'm better than that. Instead, this competition will be won or lost depending on the Illinois v. Minnesota, Ohio State v. Purdue, and MSU v. Iowa games. This is trench warfare.
I agree on the stakes. How should we score this thing? 1 point per game, or 1, 2, 3, 4 points ascending in each round?