Let's get to ranking this week's games

This week is headlined by two great games, with Michigan playing at Michigan State tonight  Ohio State travelling to Wisconsin on Sunday. Those are the two really big blockbusters, but here’s how I see some other games falling into place after that – and we go No. 1 through No. 12.

And be sure to check out the new and improved BTN.com Connect pages leading up to and during your Big ten basketball games. It’s where we track real-time conversations on Twitter for each Big Ten school. 

1. Michigan at Michigan State, Tuesday. It doesn’t get any bigger than this, a battle between top-10 teams. In fact, these schools never have met as top-10 teams. The Spartans haven’t lost at home, while the Wolverines need to win stay in the Big Ten race. Michigan State is hot, having lost just once in 2013. This is gonna be epic.

Follow it on BTN.com/Connect: Michigan page | Michigan State page

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2. Ohio State at Wisconsin, Sunday. The Buckeyes entered the week having lost two in a row, falling at Michigan and vs. Indiana after winning four games in succession. Ohio State needs this one to remain within shouting distance of the Big Ten leaders—and it beat the Badgers earlier this season in Columbus.

Follow the chatter in real time on BTN.com/ConnectOhio State pageWisconsin page

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3. Wisconsin at Minnesota, Thursday. These are teams headed in the opposite direction in a hurry. The Badgers have won three in a row and four of five. Conversely, the Golden Gophers have lost six of their last eight and are threatening to move onto the NCAA bubble.

Follow the chatter in real time on BTN.com/Connect: Wisconsin page | Minnesota page

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4. Minnesota at Iowa, Sunday. These have been two difficult teams to figure out all season. The Golden Gophers are fighting for their NCAA lives and need to find a way to beat the young-but-promising Hawkeyes for a second time this season. If Iowa has any NCAA dreams, it has to win this game. Period.

Follow the chatter in real time on BTN.com/ConnectMinnesota page | Iowa page

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5. Illinois at Northwestern, Sunday. The Wildcats have lost three of four and are dealing with injuries that are threatening to derail the season. The Fighting Illini want revenge after falling at home to Northwestern earlier this season. Also, Illinois is on a roll in its quest for eight Big Ten wins, which should be enough to punch its NCAA ticket.

Follow the chatter in real time on BTN.com/Connect: Illinois page | Northwestern page

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6. Purdue at Illinois, Wednesday. The Fighting Illini have revenge on their mind, getting upset last month by the Boilermakers. Momentum is on Illinois’ side, as it’s coming off two potentially season-saving wins over No. 1 Indiana and No. 18 Minnesota. The Illini can’t possibly stub their toe vs. Purdue, can they? Know this: The Boilers have won eight in a row in the series.

Follow the chatter in real time on BTN.com/Connect: Purdue page | Illinois page

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7. Purdue at Indiana, Saturday. The first time these teams met, the Hoosiers hung the Boilermakers with their worst home loss in school annals in a 97-60 beat down that honestly wasn’t even that close. What kind of pride and fight will Purdue show in Bloomington?

Follow the chatter in real time on BTN.com/Connect: Purdue page | Indiana page

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8. Iowa at Penn State, Thursday. Stop me if you’ve read this before: If the Hawkeyes have any delusion of making the NCAA tourney for the first time since 2006, they have to beat a Nittany Lions team that is the lone winless Big Ten club in league play and hasn’t tasted victory since a December 29 win vs. Duquesne.

Follow the chatter in real time on BTN.com/Connect: Iowa page | Penn State page

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9. Michigan State at Nebraska, Saturday. The Spartans are too good, too tough, too talented and too motivated to lose this game. I’m sorry, Cornhuskers. But, it’s true. Michigan State is what Nebraska should strive to be.

Follow the chatter in real time on BTN.com/Connect: Michigan State page | Nebraska page

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10. Northwestern at Ohio State, Thursday. The Wildcats are dealing with injuries to Jared Swopshire and Alex Olah that figure to keep them out of this game. Not having that tandem is bad news. Really bad news, facing a Buckeyes club looking to vent after that brutal home loss to No. 1 Indiana.

Follow the chatter in real time on BTN.com/Connect: Northwestern page | Ohio State page

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11. Nebraska at Indiana, Wednesday. Yes, Tim Miles is maxing out the potential of his limited roster during his maiden voyage, but this trip to Bloomington could get ugly early. Don’t think IU has forgotten about losing at Nebraska last season.

Follow the chatter in real time on BTN.com/Connect: Nebraska page | Indiana page

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12. Penn State at Michigan, Sunday. This one is on the schedule. So, I guess it must be played. The Big Ten’s worst meets one of the Big Ten’s best. Do I need to say more? Of course not.

Follow the chatter in real time on BTN.com/Connect: Penn State page | Michigan page

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About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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