Men’s Basketball: Around the Big Ten Recap
Another week of Big Ten basketball is in the books as we are now only three weeks away from the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis. The standings are as tight as ever at the top of the conference, the top three teams having all lost this week. Iowa currently sits atop the fray at 11-2 in conference with Indiana and Maryland in hot pursuit at 10-3. Michigan and surging Wisconsin round out the top five at 9-4 and 8-4, respectively.
Here’s the week in review as of February 14:
Iowa (11-2 Big Ten, 20-5 overall)
A seven-point loss at Indiana could not have done wonders for the confidence of the Hawkeyes, but they were able to stay in first place thanks to a Maryland loss. The Hawkeyes squeaked out a win against Minnesota over the weekend to push their home winning streak to 16. They haven’t lost at Carver-Hawkeye Arena all year, and it looks like the conference title will run through Iowa City with home games against Indiana and Wisconsin still to come.
Maryland (10-3, 22-4)
The Terps hadn’t lost a Big Ten home game since joining the league: until now. Red hot Wisconsin came in and shocked the Terps by double-digits, their first loss to an unranked team at home in three years. Melo Trimble was 1 of 14 from the field in what was a dismal offensive day for the Terps, scoring only 57 points, their lowest output of the season. They did also pick up a win over Bowie State (who?) in the February-cupcake-game-of-the-century.
Indiana (10-3, 20-6)
Tom Crean has to be happy with his squad after splitting their two matchups against top 10 teams, keeping themselves very much alive for the conference championship. Five different players scored in double figures in a sound win over Iowa but the team shot only 38 percent from the field in a loss at Michigan State.
Michigan (9-4, 19-7)
An 11-0 run to end the game in a comeback win over Purdue certainly helps a team’s confidence, but so does the return of Caris LeVert. Paired with Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton Jr., LeVert completes the three-headed monster in the Wolverine backcourt that could still compete for a Big Ten title. This team still has games against Maryland and Iowa before it’s all said and done.
Wisconsin (8-4, 16-9)
A month ago, this team was dead in the water. But seven straight wins including a win at No. 2 Maryland will breathe life back into anyone. Vitto Brown and Nigel Hayes combined for 35 points in College Park in what might be the best win of the season across the Big Ten. The Badgers can’t afford to let their guard down as they play four of their last six away from the Kohl Center.
Michigan State (8-5, 21-5)
An 18-point comeback bid at Purdue fell just short in overtime, but the Spartans were able to bounce back nicely with a comfortable win at home against Indiana. Denzel Valentine dropped 30 points on the Hoosiers, his second straight year with 30+ on Valentine’s Day. We’re not saying it’s a coincidence.
Purdue (8-5, 20-6)
The Boilermakers have forgotten how to finish ball games the last 10 days, with blown second half leads two weeks ago at Maryland and over the weekend at Michigan as well as a narrowly avoided debacle against Michigan State. They should win their next contest versus Northwestern but this team has to be careful to avoid backing into the postseason.
Ohio State (8-5, 16-10)
Two wins over the Big Ten’s lower echelon (Rutgers and Northwestern) have the win-loss column looking a little prettier for the Buckeyes, but they still lack a signature win. They’ll get their chances in the coming weeks with their final three games against teams currently in the top 10.
Nebraska (6-7, 14-12)
A 34-7 second-half start helped the Huskers coast to a much-needed win over Penn State after a losing effort at streaking Wisconsin. Andrew White scored a career-high 35 against the Lions and it looks like the Huskers will be a safe bet to avoid the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.
Northwestern (5-8, 17-9)
Scottie Lindsey willed his team to victory in a two-point grind over Illinois, scoring 18 off the bench to co-lead the Wildcats along with Tre Demps. The Wildcats dropped a midweek game at Ohio State, but they were able to stay out of the dreaded “bottom four” as of now.
Penn State (3-9, 12-13)
As good as Brandon Taylor is, he cannot win ball games on his own, as we saw on Saturday at Nebraska. He was the only player in double figures for the Lions (14) despite battling foul trouble and this team is still yet to string together consecutive conference wins.
Illinois (3-9, 11-14)
The Illini fell in their only contest of the week at Northwestern, their fourth loss in five games. A large part of the blame can be put on leading scorer Malcolm Hill, who only put up seven points in the losing effort.
Rutgers (0-12, 6-19)
Losses to Nebraska and Ohio State have the Scarlet Knights two thirds of the way to imperfection. The lone bright spot in Piscataway is a home-and-home with also-winless Minnesota.
Minnesota (0-13, 6-19)
At least Pitino’s squad has one less game to lose than Rutgers. Single-digit losses versus Michigan and Iowa have this team knocking on the door for that elusive win, but they’ll have to wait another week with angry Maryland on the upcoming schedule.
Tom Shively is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.