Men’s Basketball: Around The Big Ten Week 15
Brian McLaughlin, Anthony Spada and Zach Seyko take a look around the Big Ten and preview this week's upcoming games.
There may not be a more confusing conference in college basketball this season. Frankly, the Big Ten this season is worse than it has been in years. Yet, somehow, seven teams are currently projected to make the NCAA Tournament. If that were to occur, the Big Ten would place the second most teams in the tournament out of any conference in college basketball, behind just the ACC.
The Big Ten all year has been chastised for its lack of an elite team. The strength of this conference may be depth, but at this point one has to question whether there is even one team who has the potential to make a deep tournament run.
Arguably the most likely two teams to do so are Purdue and Wisconsin, but both have struggled with inconsistency. Purdue needed overtime to knock off a less than stellar Penn State team on the road, and then was beat by 12 on the road at Michigan. The Boilermakers have an outstanding frontcourt, but nowadays basketball is a guard game, which is not Purdue’s greatest strength. Wisconsin, on the other hand, is currently on a two game skid after losses to Ohio State and Michigan State. The Badgers have the experience necessary to succeed in March, but their lack of explosiveness offensively is concerning.
Maryland and Northwestern a couple of weeks ago appeared to be two of the top teams in the conference, but both have gone ice cold. The Wildcats have lost five of their last seven games and have failed to eclipse 65 points in any of those contests. They will close out the regular season with two games at home against Michigan and Purdue. Maryland’s youth appears to be catching up to them as the Terps have suffered three straight double-digit losses to Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa before a 20-point victory over Rutgers on Tuesday. Their season finale will be at home against Michigan State on Saturday.
In the middle of the pack might be the three hottest teams in the conference right now. Minnesota has won seven games in a row, while Michigan State just knocked off arguably the top team in the Big Ten in Wisconsin. Then there is Michigan, which has beaten Purdue and Wisconsin in the last couple of weeks. All three teams have a great chance to make the tournament if they can close out the regular season strongly. Minnesota will play at home against Nebraska before finishing out on the road against Wisconsin. Michigan State will try to win out on the road against Illinois and Maryland and prove that they still belong in the tournament. Michigan will finish with two games on the road against Northwestern and Nebraska. The Wolverines could be a deceivingly dangerous team in the postseason. They own the top offense in the league and are steadily improving on the defensive end.
It should also be pointed out that Tom Crean and Indiana are headed nowhere this season. All year people have been reluctant to write them off, but it is about time we do. The Hoosiers are just 6-11 in the conference and have been terrible defensively all year. Tom Crean needs to be more concerned about his job than a spot in the tournament at this point. The Hoosiers will finish the regular season at Ohio State on Saturday after losing at home to Purdue on Tuesday.
With just one week before the start of postseason conference tournaments, there is a lot up for grabs in the Big Ten. As weak as the conference has been at times this year, so many different possibilities could play out. The end of the regular season in this conference is going to get very interesting.
Will Desautelle is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.