Big Ten Basketball: Important Week in Conference Title Race
The Big Ten Conference race is starting to heat up. Purdue and Wisconsin are tied at the top. Indiana is alone in 2nd place. Michigan State is currently in 3rd place a game behind the pace. Ohio State is trailing the pack, 2 games behind.
Tuesday BigTen Games
Penn State (11-10, 3-6) @ Purdue (17-5, 8-1), 7pm ET, BTN
Purdue crushed Penn State in their first meeting 64-42 at Happy Valley. It will be interesting to see how Penn State responds after their exciting victory last Saturday night over Michigan State.
I expect Purdue will not overlook the Lions. E’Twaun Moore, freshman guard for Purdue, is getting better and better every game. Moore is averaging 11 points a game on 43% shooting from the field. In his last 4 games he has scored 11, 16, 12, and 24 points. In his last game against Illinois, Moore was 10-12 from the field, many of his points coming in a late stretch run.
Expect the Boilers to win easily over Penn State.
Michigan (5-16, 1-8) @ Ohio State (15-7, 6-3), 7pm ET, ESPN
Michigan is fighting to stay out of the cellar in the Big Ten. They are currently on a 5 game losing streak.
A 64-61 loss to Wisconsin has taken the life out of this basketball team. Michigan State and Minnesota handled the Wolverines 77-62 and 77-65. Michigan is very young and is clearly in rebuilding mode.
Ohio State is coming off a lack-luster effort in Iowa City. The Buckeyes lost to Iowa on Saturday night 53-48. A combination of poor shooting and a lazy zone defense led to the Buckeye defeat. Look for Ohio State to rebound from their lazy effort and hammer the Wolverines.
Wednesday BigTen Games
Minnesota (13-7, 3-5) @ Northwestern (7-12, 0-8), 7pm ET, BTN
Minnesota has struggled of late, losing 4 of 5 after a promising 12-3 start. At the beginning of the season, I bet Tubby Smith was concerned about playing Indiana, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Wisconsin in succession with Michigan sandwiched in between.
Northwestern is just what the Gophers need to get back on track. Northwestern has lost 8-10 games and may not win a league game this year. Colman and McKenzie, both seniors, struggled in the 63-47 loss to Wisconsin on Sunday.
The Gopher seniors will turn it around against Northwestern to inch closer to .500 in conference play.
Wisconsin (18-3, 8-1) @ Iowa (11-12, 4-6), 9pm ET, BTN
Wisconsin was impressive last week at home and on the road. The Badgers beat Indiana at home 62-49. Wisconsin also went on the road and took care of Minnesota, 63-47.
Iowa lost at Purdue, 51-50, on a suspect whistle with 1.4 seconds to play. The Hawkeye’s rebounded at home with a big win over Ohio State, 53-48. Senior guard Justin Johnson had 24 points on 8-13 shooting behind the arc for the Hawkeyes. Wisconsin guard, Trevon Hughes, has scored in double figures the last 4 games.
In their win over Minnesota, Hughes led all scorers with 20 points. Iowa, a three point shooting team, can get hot fast, but Wisconsin will not allow Iowa shooters to spot up behind the arc. Wisconsin will grind out another victory on the road.
Thursday BigTen Games
Indiana (18-3, 7-1) @ Illinois (10-13, 2-8), 9pm ET, ESPN
Indiana has lost 2 of 3 games. Indiana lost at Wisconsin 62-49, and didn’t really threaten the Badgers. Indiana also got dominated on the boards at home and got physically beaten by an under-manned (2 significant players were suspended) UConn team, 68-63. UConn out rebounded Indiana 41-26.
Illinois has lost 4 of 5 and their only 2 conference wins are against Michigan and Northwestern. Eric Gordon, the highly touted freshman point guard, is leading the Hoosiers and the Big Ten in scoring with 21.8 PPG. Gordon injured his wrist in practice before the Wisconsin game and struggled against Wisconsin.
Indiana rebounded against Northwestern (who doesn’t), with Gordon scoring a game high 29 points. If you have been living under a rock for the past year, you might not know that Gordon committed to Illinois before decommitting and choosing archrival Indiana. Expect the Orange Krush to make Eric's day unpleasant.
Hoosiers win a close one and run for the team bus.
Check back for Weekend Preview on Friday
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