Around the Big Ten Basketball
Mitch Stewart, Matt Freiler, and David Hadar break down what's happening around the Big Ten this week:
After Purdue finally slipped up, Ohio State head into the home stretch of the regular season as the top dog in the conference. The Buckeyes lead the conference with a record of 13-1, with Michigan State and Purdue trailing close behind at 13-2 and 12-2 heading into Thurs.
The Buckeyes will head into the Bryce Jordan ranked No. 8 in the land and looking to avenge their only conference loss. The Buckeyes pulled what many would consider to be an upset over then No. 3 Purdue last weekend to remain undefeated on the road.
The Buckeyes play at Penn State and then turn around and travel to face the No. 22 Michigan Wolverines three days later. After this stretch the Buckeyes should have two relatively easy games to close the season against Rutgers and Indiana. With that being said, they could realistically put the conference title race to bed this weekend.
The Michigan State Spartans lurk right behind the Buckeyes, and look very likely to win out. The No. 2 Spartans close out with three games against conference bottom feeders in Northwestern, Illinois, and Wisconsin. If Ohio State happens to drop two games the Big Ten regular season crown would easily fall to Sparty. The Spartans may also be playing for a potential No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Also in the mix for a No. 1 seed, and sitting right behind the Spartans in the conference are the Purdue Boilermakers. If the Spartans slip up and the Buckeyes lose twice Purdue would most likely win the regular season title as their most difficult game left on the schedule comes at home against the Penn State Nittany Lions. With the Boilermakers losing two-straight after not having lost in their previous 19, it will be important to see how they bounce back before heading into the postseason.
After the three at the top, the Big Ten gets a bit interesting heading into the postseason. According to ESPN, the No.22 Michigan Wolverines are the only other team in the conference that will make the tournament as things stand. The Wolverines are No. 5 in the conference and are slated to get in with a No. 6 seed, while the Nebraska Cornhuskers sit above them in the conference with only one more loss overall, and are not in the field.
The fact that Nebraska sits at 20-8 overall and 11-4 in conference and are not deemed worthy of a spot in Joe Lunardi’s bracket should be rather worrying for other tournament hopeful teams in the conference. Of course had the Cornhuskers not carried out a horrendously executed final possession against the Kansas Jayhawks earlier in the year they may not be sitting in this predicament. The Huskers should easily run over Illinois and Indiana and then get a chance to avenge their earlier loss to Penn State. If the Huskers finish the regular season with eight or nine losses one would have to think it impossible for them to be left out of the field.
Though probably a stretch, if the Nittany Lions were to win out one would have to say the same for them. If the Nittany Lions can hand Ohio State another loss, pull a massive upset in West Lafayette at Purdue, and beat Michigan at home, they would absolutely have to be in the field. Though a much taller order than Nebraska’s, the Nittany Lions have been surging of late and look to be hitting their stride at the right time while their upcoming opponents have seemingly gone the other way.
Patrick Murphy is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Patrick Murphy writes and does play by play for ComRadio, covering a variety of sports. He will look to get more play by play experience and eventually host a talk show.