Men’s Basketball: Around the Big Ten Week 13
Zach Kaplan, Brian McLaughlin and Anthony Spada look at this weekend's basketball matchups around the Big Ten conference.
With the end of the season just about a month away, a decisive leader of the Big Ten has yet to be shown. Wisconsin is currently in the lead but Maryland, Purdue and Northwestern are all still within reach of the top. Northwestern has been slipping, so has Maryland recently. Both teams will need to go back to their winning ways if they want to stay in the top five in the conference. For the rest of the conference, the middle of the pack could shift around wildly over the next few weeks with seven teams around the 5-6 mark.
Let’s review this past week in Big Ten men’s basketball.
Illinois (14-11, 4-8 Big Ten):
The Fighting Illini split their two games this past week, falling to Minnesota at home and then traveling to upset Northwestern. With the end of the season only a month away, Illinois doesn’t have much of a chance to improve in the Big Ten standings. Currently the Illini are only ahead of Rutgers. They do have a chance to tie their Big Ten record with Penn State however, as the Nittany Lions will head to Illinois on Feb. 11. A win for Illinois would bring both teams to a 5-8 Big Ten record on the season.
Indiana (15-9, 5-6 Big Ten):
Indiana hasn’t been playing to the best of it’s ability in the Big Ten over the last few games, only winning one out of the last four. The one win came against a Penn State team that has also been struggling to stay consistent. In their one game this week the Hoosiers fell to Wisconsin in a very low scoring game. After four days rest, Indiana is tasked to take on the powerful Purdue Boilermakers followed by Michigan. Both games are at home for the Hoosiers and losing both would more than likely find them dropping farther down the Big Ten standings.
Iowa (14-11, 6-6 Big Ten):
It looked like Iowa had figured something out with their three game win streak that they continued against Nebraska this past week. That was until the Hawkeyes were rocked by Minnesota 89-101. This week they head to Michigan State in what they hope will be a win to get them back into fifth place in the conference.
Maryland (20-4, 8-3 Big Ten):
This last week has been quite a nasty surprise for Terrapin fans as their team lost both of their games. On Saturday Purdue arrived in Maryland and edged the home team 73-72. Maryland traveled to University Park three days later to take on the Nittany Lions and fell again 70-64. There is a high likelihood that Maryland will still win the Big Ten, but the team will need to get themselves back into form after snapping their seven-game win streak. The Terrapins take on Ohio State and Northwestern this week and will need to win both to get themselves back on track.
Michigan (14-10, 6-5 Big Ten):
The Wolverines lost their first game of the week to Ohio State, 70-66, but made up for it with a dominant victory over Michigan State, 86-57. Hovering around the middle of the pack, Michigan is going to need to start winning more consistently to move up in the Big Ten as the end of the season starts to creep up. Unluckily for the Wolverines their upcoming schedule isn’t very kind, starting off away at Indiana and then having to face current Big Ten leaders Wisconsin. Michigan is likely to split the difference this week as well.
Michigan State (14-10, 6-5 Big Ten):
The Spartans haven’t had much luck recently, having dropped four of their last six. They started off the week with a pretty solid win over Nebraska, 72-61, but had nothing going for them against their in-state rivals. Their fortunes could get better this week as they get to stay home to face Iowa and Ohio State. Iowa will put up a good fight but being at home is always helpful, especially after the road trip they took last week.
Minnesota (17-7, 5-6 Big Ten):
After a run of very dismal performances in January that built up a five game losing streak Minnesota started to turn things around again. The Golden Gophers beat both Illinois and Iowa pretty solidly over the last seven days. Their luck seems to be changing as their schedule has Rutgers coming up which should put them back at a .500 record in the Big Ten with a win.
Nebraska (10-13, 4-7 Big Ten):
Nebraska had another poor week, losing both of their games by 11 points. They have only won one game in their last eight and that streak looks likely to continue. The Cornhuskers have to face the red hot Wisconsin Badgers next and then a Penn State team who just upset Maryland. It’s not looking good for the team barely holding on to their third-to-last place in the Big Ten.
Northwestern (18-6, 7-4 Big Ten):
Northwestern has now lost two straight for the second time since conference play started after falling to Illinois 61-68 in their only game of the last week. This upcoming week could continue their downward spiral as the Wildcats will travel to Wisconsin on Feb. 12 and then play Maryland at home three days later. Winning this week would be huge for the Wildcats, giving them a good chance to move up farther in the Big Ten standings.
Ohio State (15-10, 5-7 Big Ten):
The Buckeyes won both of their contests this week, edging Michigan on the road 70-66 and Rutgers at home by nearly the same score, 70-64. This week is going to be much more difficult as they have a two game road stretch against Maryland and Michigan State to look forward to. Ohio State has also failed to put up more than two wins in a row since conference play started.
Penn State (13-12, 5-7 Big Ten):
The Nittany Lions have found it very difficult to string multiple wins together, especially over the last few weeks. They have lost six of their last 10 including an embarrassing loss to last place Rutgers. On the positive side, Penn State pulled off a stunning upset of Maryland on Tuesday, 70-64. Penn State has two road games to worry about this upcoming week as they take on Illinois and Nebraska. Penn State will need to win both if they want to make a push into the top half of the Big Ten.
Purdue (19-5, 8-3 Big Ten):
Purdue has been solidly near the top of the Big Ten all season and continued their push to the top, taking a close win at Maryland on Saturday. The Boilermaker’s upcoming schedule looks promising as well with Indiana and Rutgers planned for this week. Purdue just needs the two teams ahead of them to drop a couple more games.
Rutgers (13-12, 2-10 Big Ten):
Surprisingly, the Scarlet Knights overcame Penn State at University Park on Saturday to give themselves their second conference win. The celebrations didn’t last long however as they left for Ohio just to drop their 10th game to the Buckeyes. It doesn’t look like Rutgers will manage a third win this week as Minnesota and Purdue are next on the schedule.
Wisconsin (20-3, 9-1 Big Ten):
Wisconsin has been as dominant as ever, beating Indiana 65-60 to increase their win streak to seven. The Badgers have two games this week starting with a road game against Nebraska and finishing at home against Northwestern. The Badgers shouldn’t be too worried about their week as long as they can hold off Northwestern. With Maryland and Purdue closely contesting Wisconsin’s top spot, two more wins could increase the lead further as the season starts drawing to a close.
Tommy Butler is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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