Take charge: A look at "Big 4's" remaining slates

Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Take charge: A look at "Big 4's" remaining slates

There are four schools that I think have legit shots to win the Big Ten as we enter the final five weeks of the season: Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State. (Yes, Wisconsin still has a shot, but I don’t think it can match the other four.)

Here’s a look at the remaining schedules for Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State with projected wins and losses, second-half record and how they will finish.

[ RELATED: Take a look at the latest Big Ten standings ]

INDIANA 20-2/8-1
The Hoosiers have a tough road with four home games and five road tilts. Every other team on this list has five at home; four on the road. No team has a more rugged slate of road games left. And check this out: The Hoosiers have lost 17 times in a row at Michigan State dating to 1991. Indiana is the only school among the Big Ten’s “Big Four” that has a home league loss—to Wisconsin. That hurts.

At Illinois (2-7), Feb. 7, W
At Ohio State (7-2), Feb. 10, W
Nebraska (2-8), Feb. 13, W
Purdue (4-5), Feb. 16, W
At Michigan State (7-2), Feb. 19, L
At Minnesota (5-4), Feb. 26, W
Iowa (3-6), March 2, W
Ohio State (7-2), March 5, W
At Michigan (7-2), March 10, L
Opponents’ combined record: 44-38; .537
Projected finish: 7-2

MICHIGAN 20-2/7-2
Looking good. Michigan still has two games vs. lowly Penn State. Looking bad: Michigan still has two games vs. Michigan State. Still, the Wolverines’ schedule ledger shows five home games and four road tilts. Oh, and Michigan has lost just once in Crisler Center in the past two seasons. Indiana’s visit to Ann Arbor on March 10 could be a de facto Big Ten title game.

Ohio State (7-2), Feb. 5, W
At Wisconsin (6-3), Feb. 9, W
At Michigan State (7-2), Feb. 12, L
Penn State (0-9), Feb. 17.W
Illinois (2-7), Feb. 24, W
At Penn State (0-9), Feb. 27, W
Michigan State (7-2), March 2/3, W
At Purdue (4-5), March 6, W
Indiana (8-1), March 10, W
Opponents’ combined record: 38-40; .487
Projected finish: 8-1

[ RELATED: Get our early All-Big Ten teams: Dienhart’s list | Yarina’s list ]

MICHIGAN STATE 18-4/7-2
The Spartans get two cracks at Michigan. And Indiana also must come to East Lansing, where MSU has owned the Hoosiers for over 20 years. Want more? Five of their remaining nine games are in the Breslin Center. The bad news: The Spartans have a grueling remaining schedule (50-33; .602). That Big Ten opening loss at Minnesota hurts more with each passing week.

Minnesota (5-4), Feb. 6, W
At Purdue (4-5), Feb. 9, W
Michigan (7-2), Feb. 12, W
At Nebraska (2-8), Feb. 16, W
Indiana (8-1), Feb. 19, W
At Ohio State (7-2), Feb. 24, W
At Michigan (7-2), March 2/3, L
Wisconsin (6-3), March 7, W
Northwestern (4-6), March 10, W
Opponents’ combined record: 50-33; .602
Projected finish: 8-1

OHIO STATE 17-4/7-2
This is a rugged slate that may devourer Ohio State; in fact, the Buckeyes have the toughest remaining slate of this quartet (51-32; .614). The Buckeyes get two cracks at No. 1 Indiana. The four road foes are a combined 25-12 in Big Ten action. Gonna be tough. Kansas is the only team that has won at Ohio State this season, so good luck winning in the Schottenstein Center. That loss at Illinois looks more confounding—and painful–with each passing week.

At Michigan (7-2), Feb. 5, L
Indiana (8-1), Feb. 10, L
Northwestern (4-6), Feb. 14, W
At Wisconsin (6-3), Feb. 17, W
Minnesota (5-4), Feb. 20, W
Michigan State (7-2), Feb. 24, L
Northwestern (4-6), Feb. 28, W
At Indiana (8-1), March 5, L
Illinois (2-7), March 10, W
Opponents’ combined record: 51-32; .614
Projected finish: 5-4

PROJECTED FINAL RECORDS
Indiana: 15-3
Michigan: 15-3
Michigan State: 15-3
Ohio State: 12-6

So, if I’m right, it looks like we’ll have a three-way tie for the Big Ten crown. Sound familiar?

For those wondering about 6-3 Wisconsin, here’s what it has ahead:

Iowa (3-6), Feb. 6
Michigan (7-2), Feb. 9
At Minnesota (5-4), Feb. 14
Ohio State (7-2), Feb. 17
At Northwestern (4-6), Feb. 20
Nebraska (2-8), Feb. 26
Purdue (4-5), March 2
At Michigan State (7-2), March 7
At Penn State (0-9), March 10
Opponents’ combined record: 39-44; .470

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