Men’s Basketball: Around the Big Ten Recap
The second half of conference season is now in full swing as higher ranked teams held serve for the most part against lesser opponents. The exception to that rule is Indiana, as they shockingly stumbled at lowly Penn State, putting Iowa into sole possession of first place. Maryland is heating up as well, moving into second place after four straight victories, including two against teams in the top 20.
Here is the breakdown as of Feb. 7:
Iowa (10-1 Big Ten, 19-4 Overall)
The Hawkeyes had two very strong performances as they easily dispatched Penn State and Illinois to continue their best start to conference play in school history. Peter Jok has now scored in double figures in eight straight games while Adam Woodbury has grabbed at least 10 rebounds in four of his last five outings.
Maryland (10-2, 21-3)
The Terps may be the hottest team in the Big Ten right now, putting up two gritty performances this week in wins at Nebraska and against Purdue. They are now only a half game behind Iowa in the standings and they hold the tiebreaker. Come Monday, they may find themselves ranked No. 1 after losses by North Carolina and Oklahoma.
Indiana (9-2, 19-5)
It was a very bipolar week for the Hoosiers in which they had to play two games on the road. They earned an impressive 80-67 win at Michigan, fueled by a 28-0 run to end the first half and continuing into the second. But they backed that up with a lackluster effort in a loss at Penn State, a game in which they only shot 36 percent from the field, their lowest output of the season.
Michigan State (7-4, 20-4)
The Spartans have quietly won four straight games and inched back towards the top of the conference. Two solid performances against Rutgers and Michigan have them right where a lot of us expected them to be at this point, playing some of the best basketball in the country. A critical week awaits them as they face Purdue and Indiana, two teams either tied or above them in the standings.
Purdue (7-4, 19-5)
A blown lead at Maryland is going to be tough to swallow, but the Boilermakers can’t hang their heads too long as they face both of the Michigan schools this week. A.J. Hammons had himself a week with two double-doubles, and he is going to be a tough matchup going forward.
Michigan (7-4, 17-7)
Just one week ago, the Wolverines were flying high on the outskirts of the Top 25 after they brought their conference record up to 7-2. But two humbling home losses to Indiana and Michigan State have this team on the outside looking in when it comes to conference title contenders.
Wisconsin (6-4, 14-9)
Don’t look now, but the Badgers have won five straight games and have crawled into the top half of the conference. Perhaps no team benefits more from the Louisville sanctions than Greg Gard’s bunch, who sits squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble after a big win over Ohio State.
Ohio State (6-5, 14-10)
A 27-point effort by JaQuan Lyle wasn’t enough as the Buckeyes fell 79-68 at Wisconsin, their only action of the week. They’ve now dropped two straight games but have a chance to right the ship as they face Northwestern and Rutgers next week.
Nebraska (5-6, 13-11)
The Huskers took Maryland down to the wire, narrowly missing the monster upset, 70-65. Four Cornhuskers scored in double figures in that game, and that scoring distribution helped translate to a convincing win over Rutgers three days later. The Huskers are starting to look like a sure bet for the NIT.
Northwestern (4-7, 16-8)
The Wildcats took care of business against Minnesota, winning 82-58, to stop a five game skid which included four straight games against ranked teams. The load gets lighter this week, as the square off against Ohio State and Illinois.
Penn State (3-8, 12-12)
After getting scorched at Iowa, a game in which they shot five percent from three, the Nittany Lions bounced back nicely with their biggest win of the season over Indiana. Brandon Taylor led the way with 24 points, while Devin Foster tallied a career-high 13.
Illinois (3-8, 11-13)
The week wasn’t pretty, but they got a much needed win over Rutgers in 3 OT, Malcolm Hill leading the way with 32 points. They weren’t able to string consecutive wins together as Iowa came in and beat them soundly, 77-65.
Minnesota (0-11, 6-17)
Not much can be taken from the loss at Northwestern except that it’s the second time they’ve lost to the Wildcats by 20+ points this season. Pitino’s squad is still looking for their first win since December 16, but at least Richard had a better week than his father.
Rutgers (0-11, 6-18)
This isn’t horseshoes, so the oh-so-close effort at Illinois will still go into the loss column for the Scarlet Knights. Freshman Corey Sanders continues to be a bright spot, scoring 28 in a blowout loss at Nebraska. Things may be looking up for Rutgers though as four of their next five contests are against teams 10th through 13th in the standings.
Tom Shively is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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