Around the Big Ten: College Basketball
Things are starting to heat up surrounding college basketball, and the Big Ten remains a conference that could boast several schools to the NCAA Tournament in just two short months.
As of Wednesday, the only team that separates itself from the rest of the conference is No. 1 Purdue, but other than the Boilermakers, records in the Big Ten conference are pretty even.
Minnesota is 1-9 in the conference, so the Golden Gophers have some separation in a bad way.
Wednesday night, Penn State will travel to West Lafayette to face the No. 1 Boilermakers, but the first time these two teams met in The Palestra, it was the Nittany Lions clinging to a 37-31 lead heading to the locker room.
Purdue ultimately flexed its strength in that contest, but the Nittany Lions utilized a different lineup that beat the Michigan Wolverines by 22 points last Sunday.
Maybe it was Micah Shrewsberry preparing for Purdue’s big man — Zach Edey.
Edey dropped 30 points against the blue and white in the first matchup, so if Penn State can manage to lock him up, the Nittany Lions have a legitimate chance to shock the world.
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights host Minnesota Wednesday evening as well, and what a year it has been in New Brunswick.
Rutgers has some pretty solid wins under its belt, including knocking off Purdue on January 2, which still remains the Boilermakers’ only loss of the season.
Ohio State has dropped seven of its last eight matchups, but somehow still remains in the conversation of getting a tournament bid.
The Buckeyes’ next two matchups are at home against Wisconsin on Thursday, then away at Michigan on Sunday.
Big Ten teams continue to beat up on each other, as Iowa lost by 16 points to Ohio State on January 21, but managed to beat Rutgers 93-82.
Meanwhile, Michigan State is trying to keep its tournament hopes alive and could be heavily considered if the Spartans can escape the considerable road matchup against Rutgers this weekend.
Michigan and Ohio State are both 11-10, and both are schools that have a lot of tournament experience, but the chances of getting back are growing slimmer by the day.
In the big-man matchup (Hunter Dickinson versus Zach Edey), it was the Boilermakers that captured a 75-70 victory on the road in Ann Arbor last Thursday.
As noted earlier, things did not get much better for the Wolverines as they got trounced by Penn State in the Bryce Jordan Center last Sunday.
Michigan’s remaining schedule is daunting, to say the least, with big matchups against Ohio State, Michigan State, and two each against No. 21 Indiana and Wisconsin.
Illinois is currently on a three-game winning streak, and the Fighting Illini will travel to Iowa on Saturday.
Iowa has been one of those sneaky teams that have been playing spoiler, with impressive wins over Michigan, Maryland and Rutgers.
The Hawkeyes are currently 14-8, but still have to play No. 1 Purdue, No. 21 Indiana and Wisconsin on the road.
Ever since dropping three in a row to Wisconsin, Tennessee and UCLA early in the season, the Maryland Terrapins are battle-tested and have surged their way back into the tournament conversation.
Also riding a three-game winning streak, including a 66-55 win over No. 21 Indiana, the Terrapins will hit the road Saturday at Minnesota and Tuesday at Michigan State before returning home to host Penn State.
There’s a lot of time left in the season, but this final stretch is imperative for all Big Ten teams to separate themselves in their quest to secure a spot in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
Connor Fenix is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.