Men’s Basketball: Around the Big Ten

Story posted February 23, 2016 in Sports, CommRadio by Joseph Esquivel-Murphy

As the regular season comes to a close, teams across the nation are jockeying for position in their conferences and in the eyes of the tournament committee. This is evident in the Big Ten, where three teams are battling each other for a number one seed.

While the Spartans are the highest rated Big Ten team at No. 6, Michigan State needs to finish strong as they are currently fifth in the conference with a record of 9-5. Their schedule for this week is not as challenging as it has been, but a pair of games that can challenge the Spartans if they are not careful.

The biggest game for Michigan State is their Tuesday showdown with the Ohio State Buckeyes. While their 18-10 record is not very impressive, Ohio State does boast a better conference record at 10-5.

This win is imperative for Michigan State because the Spartans need to finish in the top four of the Big Ten to be considered a number one seed and a victory against the Buckeyes would give them a huge advantage. On paper, the Sunday matchup against Penn State does not seem that menacing, but do not underestimate the Nittany Lions.

While Michigan State did rout Penn State 92-65 on Jan. 10, the Nittany Lions have won three of their past four games, including victories against Indiana and Iowa. A loss is highly unlikely, but Michigan State needs to be prepared for Penn State.

The eighth-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes are currently second in the Big Ten with a record of 11-3. Indiana is the only team with a better conference record, so it is imperative that Iowa wins both matchups this week.

Iowa has a schedule that is very similar to Michigan State in that both games are winnable, but able to beat them soundly if they do not play well. Wednesday’s home matchup against Wisconsin is intriguing as it matches the top power forwards in the conference in Nigel Hayes and Jarrod Uthoff.

Wisconsin is a team on the bubble and a road win against Iowa would definitively put them in the tournament. The Sunday road showdown against Ohio State is also tricky because the Buckeyes have to face another top 10 team at home in Michigan State, so look for the Buckeyes to try and at least get a split this week.

The 10th-ranked Terrapins have the most wins of any team in the Big Ten (23), but need to win out if they want to be considered a No. 1 seed in the postseason. Maryland only has one game this week, but it is against a dangerous Purdue team.

Purdue gave Maryland a tough time for over half the game when the teams first met and the same should happen this time as Maryland travels to West Lafayette. If Maryland loses to Purdue, the Terrapins would be lucky to get a two seed by the committee.

With a Big Ten record of 12-3, Indiana tops the Big Ten standings and that should not change after this week. While Illinois guard Malcolm Hill is one of the best players in the conference, Indiana should have no trouble with a struggling Illinois team.

Teams across the Big Ten see Selection Sunday looming in the distance and top teams are jostling each other to prove which team is the best in the conference.

Joseph Esquivel-Murphy is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism and spanish. To contact him, email jje5139@psu.edu.