Men’s Basketball: Around the Big Ten Week 14
Will Desautelle, Brian McLaughlin and Dave Correll break down the week 14 Big Ten matchups.
The Big Ten season is coming to a close and the race for the top spot is heating up. Three teams have at least 10 conference wins and are the only teams that can realistically win the conference.
The three way battle between Purdue, Wisconsin, and Maryland will be intriguing as none of them will play each other over the course of the season. All teams are ranked, but not all of the teams are playing at the same level.
Purdue is the hottest team of the three as they have won their last six games, including an overtime nail-biter to Penn State. Though the game was close, star big man Caleb Swanigan did not play well and Purdue struggled shooting all night.
The fact that the Boilermakers were able to win even though potential Big Ten Player of the Year Swanigan had an off night shows they can beat anyone. Purdue might be the best team in the Big Ten and are squarely in the driver’s seat to win the conference.
Wisconsin is only a half-game behind Purdue and have the best chance outside of Purdue to win the conference. The Badgers’ frontcourt is probably the best in the Big Ten, even though they do not have the best post player.
Ethan Happ and Nigel Hayes are not individually better than Swanigan, but the two of them together are better than the combination that Purdue has. Happ is one of the top post players in the nation and his ability to space the floor will provide problems.
Their game against Michigan State is troublesome as the Spartans are squarely on the bubble. If they are able to win against Michigan State, Wisconsin have a great chance of sharing the Big Ten title.
Maryland has the lowest chance of winning the conference, but have thoroughly enjoyed a good season so far. They are third in the Big Ten and have already won over 20 games this season.
Melo Trimble leads the young Terrapins with a talented group of freshman helping the talented guard. The trio of Kevin Huerter, Anthony Cowan, and Justin Jackson have proven themselves ready for Big Ten play.
Jackson and Cowan both score at least ten points a game, but contribute to the team in different ways as well. Cowan leads the team in assists and is a floor general, while Jackson has been a presence on the boards.
The Terrapins’ schedule is not too tough, but upstart Northwestern may be able to get the third spot in the conference. Even though the Wildcats lost their last game to Illinois, they have already tied a school record in wins.
Northwestern has an interesting stretch of games against Indiana, Michigan, and Purdue, but Vic Law and Bryant McIntosh are all conference performers capable of carrying a team to victory. The Wildcats will finish the season strong in route to their first NCAA tournament berth.
Michigan, Michigan State, and Minnesota are all in the middle of the Big Ten pack, but they are in different standings in regards to the NCAA Tournament.
Minnesota is probably in the tournament as they have already won 20 games this season, more than doubling last year’s total. The Golden Gophers have a good strength of schedule and barring a losing streak, will get a favorable seed in the tournament.
The Michigan schools are on the bubble as both teams have failed to truly impress the tournament committee. Michigan State had a tough non-conference slate as they played Arizona, Duke, Baylor and Kentucky.
Unfortunately, the Spartans were unable to win any of those games and have struggled offensively all year. Games against Wisconsin and Maryland can help their resume greatly as Michigan State do not have a great win this season.
Michigan are in the same boat as they played a tough non-conference schedule, but failed to win big. The Wolverines need to win out to solidify a spot in the tournament.
The Big Ten season is heating up as tournament bids and the regular season title is up for grabs.
Joe Esquivel-Murphy is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism and Spanish. To contact him, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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