Michigan’s bid to earn the No. 4 seed and final double-bye in this week’s Big Ten tournament in New York came down to the wire.
But in the end, it fell just short. Nebraska, who holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over Michigan, beat Penn State on Sunday night to secure the fourth seed and advance directly into Friday’s quarterfinals at Madison Square Garden.
That means Michigan will be the No. 5 seed and will open play Thursday afternoon in a second-round game. The Wolverines will take on the winner of Wednesday’s opening-round matchup between No. 12 Iowa and No. 13 Illinois.
The Wolverines swept the regular-season series against the Hawkeyes, with a 75-68 road win on Jan. 2 and 74-59 home triumph on Feb. 14. They also topped the Illini in the teams’ lone meeting, 79-69, on Jan. 6 at Crisler Center.
If Michigan wins its first game, it will move on to face Nebraska and will have a chance to avenge its most lopsided loss of the season. The Cornhuskers pummeled the Wolverines, 72-52, on Jan. 18 in Lincoln, Neb.
There’s also a possibility Michigan could meet rival and top-seeded Michigan State in Saturday’s semifinals.
Michigan, who closed out the regular season with five straight wins, will look to become the third team to repeat as conference tournament champs and first since Ohio State accomplished the feat in 2010-11. It will have to win four games in four days, just like last season, in order to do so.
The Wolverines have had minimal success as the fifth seed in the event with a 2-2 all-time record. They advanced to the semifinals in 2004 and to the quarterfinals in 2013.
When asked last week about the possibility of grabbing the last double-bye, Michigan coach John Beilein said he’d be content with the No. 5 seed because his team wouldn’t have to wait longer. And now he’ll get his wish.
“I’m not crazy about having one more day as much as people would think,” Beilein said following Saturday’s win at Maryland. “With the way we're playing now, I'd like to play soon again.”
Michigan vs. Iowa/Illinois
Tip-off: 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Madison Square Garden, New York
TV/radio: BTN/950 AM
Records: Michigan 24-7, 13-5 Big Ten; Iowa 13-18, 4-14; Illinois 14-17, 4-14
Outlook: Michigan will look to become the first No. 5 seed to win the conference tournament and join Michigan State (1999-2000) and Ohio State (2010-11) as the only teams to repeat as champions.
BIG TEN TOURNAMENT
At New York
All games on BTN unless noted.
■No. 12 Iowa vs. No. 13 Illinois, 5:30 p.m.
■No. 11 Minnesota vs. No. 14 Rutgers, 8 p.m.
■No. 8 Maryland vs. No. 9 Wisconsin, noon
■No. 5 Michigan vs. Iowa/Illinois winner, 2:30 p.m.
■No. 7 Penn State vs. No. 10 Northwestern, 6:30 p.m.
■No. 6 Indiana vs. Minnesota/Rutgers winner, 9 p.m.
■No. 1 Michigan State vs. Maryland/Wisconsin winner, noon
■No. 4 Nebraska vs. Michigan/Iowa/Illinois winner, 2:30 p.m.
■No. 2 Ohio State vs. Penn State/Northwestern winner, 6:30 p.m.
■No. 3 Purdue vs. Indiana/Minnesota/Rutgers winner, 9 p.m.
■Michigan State/Maryland/Wisconsin winner vs. Nebraska/Michigan/Iowa/Illinois winner, 2 p.m. (CBS)
■Ohio State/Penn State/Northwestern winner vs. Purdue/Indiana/Minnesota/Rutgers winner, 4:30 p.m. (CBS)
■Championship, 4:30 p.m. (CBS)