There is an invisible line of demarcation between the Big Ten teams that played on Thursday and those that will play on Friday in the 2023 NCAA Tournament.

Those that started the Tourney on its opening day were not particularly well situated to make an extended run.

All 5 teams who played Thursday were seeded between 7-10, which typically equates to a tough First Round opponent and an even harder Second Round matchup. Anything you get out of those teams beyond a First Round win is a bonus.

Friday’s Big Ten slate feels more like the main event to Thursday’s undercard.

Each of the 3 teams — Purdue, Indiana and Michigan State — harbors realistic hopes at reaching the Tournament’s second weekend. Even the 7th-seeded Spartans, thanks in part to their history in this event.

For Purdue, Friday will ideally be just the 1st step in the Boilermakers’ 1st run to the Final Four since 1980.

A win over Fairleigh Dickinson is seemingly a formality, but it’s still important to get the nerves out of the way. Especially against a team that likes to press like the Knights, which has been an Achilles heel for the sometimes turnover-prone Boilers.

Things should be a bit more challenging for Michigan State and Indiana. The Spartans face 10th-seeded USC, and the Hoosiers take on a 13th-seeded Kent State team that has tested Houston and Gonzaga this season.

If all 3 teams win, they’ll join Maryland, Northwestern and Penn State in the Second Round. And with 6 cracks at the Sweet 16, Big Ten teams would have ample opportunity to change the narrative surrounding the conference’s recent NCAA Tournament struggles.

There could even be a pathway for a pair of all-B1G Elite Eight showdowns — Purdue vs. Michigan State, and Indiana vs. Penn State.

Sports Betting in Big Ten Country

There is big news coming to the upcoming 2022-23 Big Ten football season (and NFL season). Ohio online sports betting and Maryland sports betting are on the way.

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But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s focus on getting out of the First Round.

Friday’s games

East Region

No. 7 Michigan State vs. No. 10 USC

Where: Columbus, Ohio

When: 12:15 p.m. ET, CBS

The Skinny: On paper, this matchup is as dead-even as they come. Both teams are remarkably balanced.

Michigan State ranks 39th nationally in offensive efficiency and 41st in defensive efficiency. USC is 43rd in offensive efficiency and 44th in defensive efficiency. It’s too bad a First Round matchup like this will be impossible in 2 years when these teams are playing in the same conference.

The Trojans have the nation’s 2nd-best defense against 2-pointers, so Michigan State will need to hit shots from outside.

Fortunately, that’s been Sparty’s strong suit this season. Michigan State is 3rd nationally in 3-point percentage, hitting 39.5% of attempts from downtown.

If that continues, Tom Izzo’s team will move on. And if the Spartans go cold, Michigan State is in trouble.

No. 1 Purdue vs. No. 16 Farleigh Dickinson

Where: Columbus, Ohio

When: 6:50 p.m. ET, TNT

The Skinny: Fairleigh Dickinson is named after Col. Fairleigh Stanton Dickinson, who made a fortune in medical supplies and gave some of it up to start a college in New Jersey.

Purdue is named after John Purdue, who made a fortune in dry goods during the Civil War because the Union Army needed dry goods, then gave some of it up for the state of Indiana to start a land-grant college.

Believe me when I tell you these nuggets are more interesting than this game will be. Purdue ranks 9th in the country in offensive efficiency, while the Knights are 359th defensively. The Boilers will hang 100 if they so desire, though Matt Painter might not be out for blood.

Midwest Region

No. 4 Indiana vs. No. 13 Kent State

Where: Albany, N.Y.

When: 9:55 p.m. ET, TBS

The Skinny: Much like The Godfather, the 3rd leg of this trilogy comes a couple decades after the originals — though hopefully it’s more watchable.

In the original in 2001, the 13th-seeded Golden Flashes upset No. 4 Indiana and interim coach Mike Davis, 77-73.

Improbably, the sequel came out the very next year.

This time, the 5th-seeded Hoosiers met Antonio Gates and the 10th-seeded Flashes in the Elite Eight. Indiana advanced to the Final Four with an 81-69 win, and it remains the last time the Hoosiers got there.

The programs remain oddly connected today. Kent State coach Rob Senderoff is a former Kelvin Sampson assistant, and left IU in disgrace in 2007 with a 30-month show-cause penalty from the NCAA. The fact Senderoff and Sampson himself both lie in Indiana’s path is … something.