Men’s Basketball: Around The Big Ten

Story posted March 1, 2016 in Sports, CommRadio by Joseph Esquivel-Murphy

Every year, the regular season winds down with teams getting hot at the right time, or teams trending downward and playing themselves out of a good seed, or even out of the tournament. The Big Ten has these problems as the teams are struggling for position in a crowded race for the top seeds.

While there is a logjam of teams fighting for spots two to eight, 12th-ranked Indiana has already clinched a share of the Big Ten with its dominating 27-point victory over Illinois. Indiana has been playing well as of late as they have won their last three games, but will need to play its best basketball if they want to win the title outright.

The Hoosiers have the hardest stretch of games this week of any team in the country as they face the No. 16 Iowa Hawkeyes and the 14th-ranked Maryland Terrapins, teams that have spent good portions of the season in the top 10. The matchups in both games are intriguing as both games feature the top point guards in the conference and underrated frontcourt players.

Yogi Ferrell, Melo Trimble and Mike Gesell are some of the best point guards in the conference and they impact their team in different ways. Ferrell is the engine that makes Indiana go and when he plays well Indiana normally wins.

While Trimble is very similar to Ferrell in the way that he is the main guy for Maryland, but Trimble is better at driving to the basket and drawing fouls, while Ferrell has a deadly three point shot.

Gesell is relied upon to set up his teammates, but he is quite capable of taking over games as he scored 25 points in the Big Ten opener against Michigan State. While the point guards are one of the keys to victory, the play of Troy Williams will decide Indiana’s fate.

Williams is a terrific player, but he is severely overshadowed by freshman center Thomas Bryant. While Bryant does post the third best field goal percentage in the nation, Williams has more points and rebounds than the young big man.

Williams has an extremely hard week ahead of him as he goes against some of the best power forwards in the Big Ten in Jared Uthoff and Robert Carter. Uthoff is the best frontcourt player in the conference as he is second in the Big Ten in scoring and leads the conference in blocks.

Uthoff is a player that is more comfortable on the perimeter, so Williams will need to be physical with him. Carter is a versatile stretch four that does the dirty work for Maryland and allows Diamond Stone and Jake Layman to take most of the credit.

Trimble is Maryland’s best player, but Carter might be there most important player. Williams will need to play his best games in order for Indiana to clinch the conference title.

The Michigan State Spartans are riding lots of momentum after beating Penn State by over 30 points and becoming the number two team in the AP poll. They might not be able to win the Big Ten, but they will probably get to 13 conference wins as the Spartans play Rutgers and Ohio State this week.

Ohio State will really challenge Michigan State because the Buckeyes are currently on the tournament bubble and missed out on an opportunity by losing to Michigan State at home last week. The Spartans have to be prepared as the Buckeyes beat Iowa last week, a team that handled Michigan State in both of their matchups this season.

The end of conference play always provides intriguing matchups and the Big Ten is proving that with the division leader facing two ranked opponents to close out the season.

 

Joseph Esquivel-Murphy is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism and Spanish. To contact him, email jje5139@psu.edu.