Around the Big Ten Basketball: Week 15
Host Ethan Cook and analysts Matt Noah and Josh Portney break down the Big Ten's home-road splits and make their picks for three of the biggest conference games this weekend in this edition of the Around the Big Ten Basketball podcast.
With eight Big Ten teams either ranked or receiving votes in the latest AP Top 25 Poll, it’s no surprise that Big Ten in-conference action has been getting all the spotlight this past week. It’s still a contest for the top spot of the conference as we enter the final stretch of this long regular season.
Currently clinging to a small lead at the top of the Big Ten is Maryland, which is riding a seven-game winning streak and is ranked ninth in the country. On Tuesday, the Terrapins hosted the Cornhuskers and were nearly handed their first home loss of the year, but they ended Nebraska’s short-lived comeback to win 72-70. They head to East Lansing for a Saturday evening showdown with the surging Michigan State Spartans.
Right behind Maryland sits Penn State, a surprising new face to the NCAA Tournament conversation. Penn State has adopted its new role as a basketball school and for good reason. The duo of Lamar Stevens and Myreon Jones, under the skillful coaching of Pat Chambers, has led the Nittany Lions to win after win. Even with Jones out with the flu for his team’s last two outings, the Nittany Lions have been able to string together some incredible wins, especially Tuesday’s victory over Purdue in Mackey Arena. Penn State next hosts Northwestern, a team that lives at the bottom of the Big Ten with no real talent besides from Miller Kopp, on Saturday for what is likely to be an easy win.
There’s a cluster of teams in the Big Ten standings behind Penn State that includes Michigan State, Iowa, Illinois and Rutgers, all of which have eight or nine conference wins. Iowa travels to Indiana for a possible spoiler match, as Indiana’s home-court advantage could give the Hoosiers the upset win. Illinois faces off against Rutgers, which has the potential to be an interesting Saturday afternoon upset that could knock the Fighting Illini out of the rankings with a Scarlet Knights victory.
Other Big Ten games this weekend include Saturday’s meeting between Wisconsin and Nebraska, Iowa’s second consecutive road game with a trip to Minneapolis, and the Indiana-Michigan meeting in Ann Arbor on Sunday.
As the top 11 Big Ten teams are only separated by four games or fewer, it’s still anybody’s conference. But with the possibility of 12 teams at max in the field and three or four in the top four seeds, all signs point to the Big Ten having a big presence in the NCAA Tournament this year.
Josh Portney is a freshman studying broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.