The quest for getting a top seed in the Big Dance begins Friday night when Illinois, the No. 2 seed in the tournament, faces seventh-seed Rutgers in the quarterfinals at Lucas Oil Stadium. A win would all but cement a No. 1 seed for the Illini (20-6, 16-4 Big Ten), who have won four straight, the last three coming against ranked teams Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio State.
Illinois has won the Big Ten Tournament twice in school history, with its last win coming in 2005, the year the Illini made a run to championship game in the NCAA Tournament.
The return of national player of the year candidate Ayo Dosunmu is expected to spark Illinois throughout the postseason. After missing three games with a facial injury, Dosunmu returned to score 19 points in Illinois' 73-68 regular-season finale victory over Ohio State.
Dosunmu and center Kofi Cockburn were named first-team All-Big Ten, while freshman Andre Curbelo was named the Big Ten's sixth man of the year.
Rutgers (15-10) advanced with a 61-50 win over 10-seed Indiana on Thursday night. Rutgers won with balance and defense, with four scorers in double figures and by holding Indiana to 37.5 percent shooting from the floor. The Hoosiers missed their final 13 shots in the loss.
Illinois and Rutgers played once in the regular season, with the Scarlet Knights beating the Illini 91-88 in Piscataway, N.J. It was the highest-scoring game in the Big Ten for the Scarlet Knights, who shot 46.8 percent from the field and 40 percent (8-20) from 3-point range.