With one week left in the regular season, Big Ten conference play is finally coming to its merciful end. But what’s fun is there’s still a chance at a four-way tie atop the conference, where four teams could finish 12-6. Here’s how this could play out:
- Purdue loses to Indiana and Northwestern
- Wisconsin beats Iowa, loses to Minnesota
- Minnesota beats Nebraska and Wisconsin
- Maryland beats Rutgers and Michigan State OR Michigan State beats Illinois and Maryland
That’s all that needs to happen for maximum Big Ten chaos, which would be the perfect end to a down year in this conference.
Held Michigan basketball to fewer points in Piscataway (68) than Michigan football scored in October (78), so that’s something at least.
The most bipolar team in the conference. I’m not sure if Tim Miles is in any danger of losing his job, but the Huskers will finish under .500 for the third straight year.
12. Penn State
The Nittany Lions are hitting the skids as the season comes to a close. They’ll need to win both their final games to finish the season above .500.
Well, Saturday night sure was a strange game, right? Luckily, we had Collin Hartman’s Senior Night moment to remind us how important Indiana Basketball remains to Hoosiers, even in the midst of a down year.
10. Ohio State
The Buckeyes had a huge victory over Wisconsin Thursday night. Could wins against Penn State and Indiana this week put them back on the bubble?
Quietly, the Illini have won 4 of their last 5 and finish with a home game against Michigan State and on the road against Rutger. If they win both, they may actually get some tourney consideration, and John Groce may have actually saved his job.
That sound you hear is a referee calling yet another foul against Indiana whenever Peter Jok has the ball.
The Hawkeyes are already my pick for a big improvement next year - even though Jok won’t be back, they have a good young core such as Jordan Bohannon, who had 8 threes on the road in their win over Maryland.
The Wildcats have probably done enough to get themselves into the Tourney, but a win over Michigan or Purdue this week would really help their cause.
Maryland hoops has become a meme. Always start hot out the gate in conference play, make their way up to about 20 wins, then start to lose it as the season goes on. The Terps are 2-5 in February this year.
Another team that’s struggling is the Badgers, after road losses to both OSU and MSU. Uncharacteristically, it’s been the defense that’s the issue for Wisconsin, as they’ve given up an average of 1.27 points per possession during these two games.
4. Michigan State
Well would you look at that - Sparty is 6-2 in its last 8 games. Tom Izzo once again has this team playing well at the end of the season. They’ll finish with games at Illinois and Maryland.
The Wolverines didn’t just beat Purdue on Saturday, they destroyed them - at one point they had a 22-point lead in the second half. The Wolverines still aren’t the same team on the road as they are at home (save for their victory in Assembly Hall), but they’ll have a chance to change that with games at Northwestern and Nebraska this week.
I love how the Gophers are playing right now - they could be the most dangerous team in the Big Ten in March. The Gophers have now won 7 straight, have a Yogi-type leader at the point in Nate Mason, and Jordan Murphy is close to averaging a double-double on the season. I thought Minnesota might be a year away, especially when they had a swoon in mid-January, but after their recent play, they might be ready to make a run now.
The Boilers barely survived in State College and lost in Ann Arbor, but still can wrap up at least a share of the conference title with a win against the Hoosiers on Tuesday. It would be a huge collapse if Purdue couldn’t at least grab a share of the title.
But then again, the Warriors blew a 3-1 lead.
And so did the Indians.
And the Falcons blew a 25-point Super Bowl lead.
And then there were the Oscars last night.
All I’m saying is, if Purdue does fail to win at least a share of the conference crown, they’ll have to go sit in the corner and think about what they’ve done.