Sitting on top of the world (or at least the conference) once again. Feels good, doesn't it, Hoosiers? Around the conference, things are started to work themselves out, and while everyone is currently hanging out at .500 or better overall (looking at you, Rutgers), there's quite a logjam developing at the top half. Fully half of the conference is within a game and a half of the lead, so picking up unexpected wins is going to be huge going forward.
This week, all three of the games previewed here have a top 25 ranked team. Four of the six teams involved in these games are in the 1.5 games or less logjam (and Purdue is only half a game behind that). By the end of the weekend, we could have one team all alone atop the B1G, or we could have as many as about 3 teams tied at the top, with 3 others half a game behind. These three games (plus IU-Ohio State round 2) will have a lot to do with figuring that out.
#25 Iowa @ Purdue, Noon, BTN
Why this game is important: Iowa is just one game behind the conference lead, and has been surprisingly solid on the road so far this season. Purdue is hanging is at 3-3 in conference play, and could kickstart a solid run with a win against a ranked team in Mackey. This is also the only time these two teams play this season, so OMHR bragging rights are definitely on the line.
What can we learn: Is Iowa a legitimate contender, or are they just waiting for the perfect time to start tanking? Will Purdue be caught looking ahead to hosting Indiana on Wednesday? Just how different (or not) are these schools' colors?
#6 Wisconsin @ Michigan, 7:00pm, ESPN
Why this game is important: Wisconsin is currently tied with us for the Big Ten lead. Michigan is half a game back of that tie. I defy you to find a more important game in the Big Ten (that doesn't involve us directly) this weekend. Spoiler: You can't. Because this game is it.
What can we learn: Who will Indiana be competing with for the Big Ten this season? Can Michigan come back from what has been a pretty bad year for them so far to stay in the hunt? Was Wisconsin's loss to Rutgers a complete fluke, or can it be duplicated?
Northwestern @ #13 Maryland, 7:30pm, BTN
Why this game is important: This is Maryland's first chance to bounce back from the beating we put on them. I don't envy Northwestern right now. But, if the Wildcats can pull off a stunner in College Park, then we can start questioning if the Terps were as ready to contend as they thought they were. So, there's really no downside (plus, were you really going to watch the Pro Bowl anyway?).
What can we learn: How does Maryland respond to getting (metaphorically) punched in the mouth? Will this be the likely final nail in the coffin of Northwestern's NCAA hopes? Or can the Wildcats feed off of almost knocking off Ohio State and finish the job against the Terrapins?