Around the Big Ten Basketball: Week 16
Host Ethan Cook and analysts Connor Griffin, Preston Shoemaker and Ben Geller discuss the latest in Big Ten basketball.
The Big Ten, the most competitive conference in college basketball, continued to impress over the past weekend and in the early part of the week.
The Maryland Terrapins now hold a two-game lead in the Big Ten after picking up two more wins, defeating Michigan State in East Lansing on Saturday and Northwestern at home on Tuesday. The Terps are not guaranteed to keep this lead, however, as they now go into the toughest part of their schedule down the stretch. They will take the weekend off before traveling to Columbus to take on Ohio State on Monday and will stay on the road to play Minnesota on Wednesday. Maryland will need Anthony Cowan Jr. and Jalen Smith to continue to play with the dominance that they’ve had all year in order to lock up the regular season title.
Right behind Maryland lies Penn State. The Nittany Lions lost for the first time since Jan. 15 on Tuesday to a sneaky Illinois team, as the Fighting Illini picked up an impressive road victory 62-56 behind a 22-point performance from sophomore Ayo Dosunmu. The Nittany Lions do have a favorable schedule the rest of the way, but three of their last five games are on the road, including two tough tests at Indiana and Iowa. The time is now for Pat Chambers and company to try to win the regular season title for the first time in school history.
Iowa, Illinois, Michigan State and Wisconsin all sit in a third-place tie at 9-6 in conference. Iowa is 3-3 in its last six games with all three losses coming on the road. The Hawkeyes have only two road games in their last five, which will come against struggling Michigan State and Illinois teams. The results of their back-to-back home games against Penn State and Purdue will most likely predict where they will sit in the bracket come conference tournament time, as they can be seeded anywhere from third to 12th.
Illinois got back on track with a win at Penn State, and the Fighting Illini’s remaining schedule features three home games against Nebraska, Indiana and Iowa, all of which will be huge to determine where they will be seeded in the conference tournament. Dosunmu has shown recently why he is one of the most elite players in the Big Ten, as he’s only had two games with under 15 points since Jan. 5.
Wisconsin and Rutgers will play once more in Madison on Sunday afternoon, but Michigan State will not see either team for the rest of the season. These teams will most likely make up the middle seeds in the conference tournament, as Michigan and Ohio State have pretty even schedules the rest of the way. Those two will play each other on March 1 in Columbus. Michigan is currently on a four-game win streak and will play at Purdue on Saturday.
With the conference tournament just under a month away, the Big Ten’s middle of the pack looks to be very competitive, and the top two teams are poised for a run at the conference and NCAA tournament titles.
Danny Murray is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.