Men’s Basketball: Around the Big Ten
As the month of January comes to a close, teams are entering the halfway point of the conference season. Conference play is the hardest stretch of games for teams because of the familiarity between conference rivals.
Some teams tend to struggle in conference play after having a stellar nonconference schedule. The same is true for teams in the Big Ten as some of the elite teams have struggled to start conference play.
Michigan State is a great example of this as the Spartans are currently seventh in the conference with a 4-4 record. After opening the season with 13 consecutive victories, Michigan State opened Big Ten with a 13-point road loss to Iowa.
After winning three straight games against Illinois, Minnesota and Penn State, the Spartans dropped three games in a row, including a one-point home loss to an unranked Nebraska. Michigan State was able to secure a victory against Maryland on Saturday and look to continue its winning ways with a road game against a struggling Northwestern team on Thursday.
The Wildcats started the season as a feel good story, winning 13 of their first 14 games with an 11-point loss to North Carolina. The Big Ten has seemed to hurt Northwestern as the Wildcats are currently in 10th place in the conference.
Their televised matchup against Michigan State is crucial because Northwestern enter the game on a three-game losing streak with their last game being a 32-point blowout to Indiana. As both teams are currently in the middle of the BIG TEN standings, the winner of this game will determine which team is ready to rise up the ranks of the BIG TEN.
The most highly anticipated matchup this week is a top 10 showdown between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Maryland Terrapins on Thursday and will be televised by ESPN at 7 p.m.
Iowa and Maryland is a matchup of two of the best players in the Big Ten in Jared Uthoff and Melo Trimble. The winner of this game could determine which player could ultimately win the Big Ten Player of the Year.
Iowa is one of the nation’s hottest teams and enters the game without a loss in Big Ten. The emergence of Uthoff has made this possible as he leads the conference in scoring and blocks.
Maryland has had an up and down time to start conference play as they narrowly defeated Penn State and Northwestern at home. Trimble is the leader for the Terrapins and he plays well in the big games. Maryland needs to win this game, so they can keep pace with Iowa and Indiana in the Big Ten, as the Terrapins are two games back in the loss column to those teams.
Indiana has been one of the best teams in the nation the past couple of weeks as they have won their last 12 games. The Hoosiers play twice this week against Wisconsin and Minnesota, which are not the best teams in the Big Ten, but two teams that have given Indiana trouble during the win streak.
The Big Ten is always filled with exciting games and the same holds true this week.
Joseph Esquivel-Murphy is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism and Spanish. To contact him, email email@example.com.