Winning the Big Ten is an uphill climb, especially this season.
With five teams ranked in the top 20, the conference crown will be difficult to claim. Indiana, Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State are the top four, and it's likely that one of those teams will hoist a Big Ten regular-season banner.
But don't count out Minnesota, which went down-to-the-wire with the Spartans on Wednesday night, losing a physical battle 61-50 at the Breslin Center.
However, for the sake of being realistic, let's say the Gophers (5-5 in the B1G) won't catch two-loss teams like the Spartans and Wolverines. The Buckeyes have three losses but still have a shot. The Hoosiers, on the other hand, are in a class by themselves, perched atop league standings with a sparkling 8-1 record.
[Big Ten standings, courtesy of BigTen.org]
If the Spartans want a piece of the action, they'll have to play at a higher level than they have in their past two games. With the Wolverines waiting for Tuesday's battle, it's imperative that Michigan State stay true to its winning ways in East Lansing by not letting Trey Burke and Co. leave with a victory.
There are steps—let's say five—to climbing the ladder and earning a B1G championship. Can the Spartans do it? It's possible, but they'll have to abide by the five following guidelines in order to achieve league supremacy.