Around the Big Ten: Men’s Basketball
David Hadar, Jack Flanagan and Kevin McConlogue discuss the current landscape of the Big Ten:
As the college basketball season progresses, the Big Ten remains one of the strongest conferences in the nation. With four teams in the top 25 and many more looking to build on their resume for an NCAA tournament bid, the remaining games of conference play are going to be crucial.
Right now, the Big Ten looks to be the deepest conference in the country, but continued conference play could weed out some of the teams on the bubble. For the first time all season, the fifth-ranked Michigan Wolverines lost their spot on top of the Big Ten this past week. It was their first loss all season, as they fell in Madison to the Wisconsin Badgers. They’ll look to rebound this upcoming week against Indiana and Ohio State.
The team that overtook the Wolverine’s spot atop the Big Ten, no. 6 Michigan State, remains perfect in conference play after an impressive double-digit win against no. 13 Maryland. If the Spartans can survive road battles against no. 19 Iowa and Purdue, future matchups against Michigan should decide who wins the Big Ten regular season title.
Next in the Big Ten is no. 13 Maryland, who will try to bounce back from that tough loss against no. 6 Michigan State earlier this week. With contests against two lower tier Big Ten teams in Illinois and Northwestern, Maryland should keep their place amongst the top teams of the conference for at least another week.
Purdue, Wisconsin and no. 19 Iowa represent the next tier of the conference right now. Purdue and Iowa have strung together a nice set of wins in the past few weeks, while Wisconsin is coming off that great home win against no. 6 Michigan State. With plenty of big conference games still remaining, any of these teams could move into the discussion for top team in the Big Ten.
Next is a group of five schools all fighting for positioning in the conference. Minnesota and Nebraska have put together impressive resumes so far this season, while Indiana, Northwestern and Ohio State are all fighting to remain relevant in the conference. This is the most interesting part of the conference, as it’s almost certain these teams are going to beat up on one another. This group of teams will prove how deep the Big Ten really is when March comes around.
Rounding out the conference standings are Rutgers, Illinois and Penn State. Though none of these teams came into the season with particularly high expectations, none of these programs will be happy with their performances so far. These three have combined for three conference wins, with Penn State contributing zero to that total. After sending only four teams to the NCAA tournament last March, the Big Ten could send as many as 10 this season.
Although it’s still early, with a full slate of conference games and the always exciting conference tournament left to play, the Big Ten has had one of it’s best collective seasons in years.
Jack Flanagan is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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