Around the Big Ten: Men’s Basketball
With the quality depth throughout the B1G, conference play always leads to upsets and interesting matchups. With the rise of Iowa and the undefeated conference record of Indiana, there are a multitude of teams that can contend for a B1G title. With another week full of upsets gone by, the contender picture became even more blurred.
Indiana (5-0) (15 -3)
The Hoosiers had one game this week against the most disappointing team in the B1G conference so far. Indiana pulled out a 70-63 victory against the Gophers of Minnesota and remain undefeated in conference play. Yogi Ferrell continued to make a case for being a top-five point guard in the nation while displaying all facets of his game. Ferrell finished with twenty points, seven assists, and six rebounds on the day despite shooting 35 percent from the floor. Ferrell made key plays down the stretch to make an argument for his Hoosier team to sneak into the top 25.
Iowa (5-0) (14-3)
Iowa solidified their case for being one of the top teams in the country this week in conference play. They defeated the No. 4 team in the country in Michigan State, and also beat a Michigan team coming off a victory against No. 3 Maryland. The Hawkeyes defense proved to be stingy while holding Denzel Valentine, the leader for Michigan State and a forward in contention for a Naismith award to 14 points. The Iowa Hawkeyes were a sleeper team to win the Big Ten, but with two victories over a top five team in the country solidifies them for final four contentions.
Maryland (5-1) (16-2)
The Terrapins suffered a tough loss against the Wolverines of Michigan even though their top player in Caris LaVert was on the bench. Going on the road into a hostile environment in any conference can be tough, but the selection committee views it as a loss to an unranked opponent regardless of the situation. Maryland will still remain as a top team in the country, but may drop down significantly in the AP poll. Maryland bounced back against Ohio State and showed they are capable of being a top seed come tournament time. As long as Melo Trimble is at the helm the Terrapins will have a successful season.
Ohio State (4-2) (12-7)
Thad Matta and company routed Rutgers this week, while also losing in embarrassing fashion in College Park while getting dominated by freshman sensation Diamond Stone. The Buckeyes bounced back from playing an uninspired first half against the Scarlet Knights with bouncing back to outscore them by 28 in the second half. Ohio State needs multiple resume building victories over the next few months to make a case for them to get into the big dance.
Michigan (3-2) (13-5)
Michigan has had to face ranked opponents in three consecutive matchups and only earned a victory in one of those games. The victory came in the most impressive matchup of the three against No. 3 ranked Maryland. The Wolverines also lost to a tough Iowa Hawkeye team in Iowa’s home stadium. With four relatively easy games in the upcoming weeks the Wolverines can get their star Caris LaVert back to full health while strengthening their record.
Purdue (3-2) (15-3)
Caleb Swanigan and the Boilermakers got back in the win column after coming off a humiliating loss to the Illini. With a 74-57 victory over Penn State, Purdue got to above .500 in the B1G on the season. The Boilermakers will only go as far as their stellar frontcourt of A.J. Hammons and Caleb Swanigan brings them.
Michigan State (3-3) (16-3)
Despite coming into conference play undefeated, the Spartans have undergone three losses. Two of those have come against the Hawkeyes of Iowa in which the first matchup did not include their star player in Denzel Valentine. The second time, there was no excuses where Izzo’s squad was outplayed from tip-off. Michigan State also fell to a Wisconsin team that was 9-9 heading into their matchup. Michigan State is struggling, but who would you rather have than Tom Izzo to lead his troop back on the right path?
Northwestern (3-3) (15-4)
Northwestern’s schedule featured two home games this week against Wisconsin and Penn State. Northwestern did what they were supposed to do against Wisconsin, but surprisingly let the Nittany Lions come out with the victory. The upcoming road will not be too easy to come back from in games at Maryland and Indiana.
Nebraska (3-3) (11-8)
Nebraska is rolling on a three game win streak against Rutgers, Minnesota, and Illinois. The Cornhuskers also lost the three previous and show they need resume building wins against quality opponents. They will be able to show that with upcoming games against Michigan State, Michigan, and Purdue.
Penn State (2-4) (11-8)
The Nittany Lions faced a tough schedule in consecutive road games against stiff competition in the B1G. The first game at Purdue, Penn State failed to make the final score respectable and lost 74-57. Penn State bounced back with a win at Northwestern and have winnable games coming up against Wisconsin and Ohio State.
Wisconsin (2-4) (10-9)
Wisconsin has underachieved all year with the loss of legendary coach Bo Ryan. But, the Badgers earned an impressive win in defeating the No. 4 Michigan State Spartans. Wisconsin is unlikely to make the tournament, but with a reasonable schedule ahead they have the chance to make some noise.
Illinois (1-4) (9-9)
Illinois faced one team this week in Nebraska and fell short. The Illini will face a tough challenge in traveling to Bloomington to face the Hoosiers and earn a program building win.
Rutgers (0-5) (6-12)
It is tough to find any bright spots on the Scarlet Knights team that has lost five consecutive games. Matchups against Purdue and Iowa do not make the road any brighter for this Rutgers squad.
Minnesota (0-6) (6-12)
The Pitino family is struggling this year when it comes to losses. Whether it is from displaying profanity while leaving the game or coaching a team that has reeled off seven straight losses, it has been a struggle. With the strength of the Big Ten, it will continue to be a struggle.
Dave Correll is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him email firstname.lastname@example.org.