Big Ten basketball fans were treated to some incredible games last season. To this day, we continue to talk about Wisconsin’s shot at the buzzer vs. Michigan to send the game to overtime; Illinois upsetting No. 1 Indiana; and Indiana’s late comeback win at Michigan to clinch the Big Ten regular-season title. What great matchups are in store for the upcoming season, you ask? Let’s find out as I rank my top 10 B1G games on the 2013-14 schedule.
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1. Michigan State at Michigan, Feb. 23. Outside of Duke-North Carolina and Louisville-Kentucky, is there a better in-state rivalry throughout college basketball right now? Last season, the Wolverines edged MSU in a heated 58-57 win in Ann Arbor to keep their B1G title hopes alive. When Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III announced they were coming back this year, Adreian Payne and Gary Harris quickly followed, setting up what very-well could be a top-10 matchup in late February. Does it really get any better than this?
2. Michigan State at Ohio State, Mar. 9. This is the final day of the Big Ten regular season and this contest could certainly have championship implications. The Spartans will be coming off a road game at Iowa, while the Buckeyes will have a full week of rest after battling Indiana in Bloomington. Keep in mind this will also be senior night for Aaron Craft, one of the most accomplished guards in OSU history. Do you really see Craft closing out his career at Value City Arena with a loss? I wouldn’t bet on it.
3. Michigan at Ohio State, Feb. 11. Yes, of course this isn’t quite the football rivalry, but the bottom line is that these two schools don’t like each other, be it on the gridiron or the hardwood. These two teams split their series last season, as the two games were decided by a combined five points. This is a huge game that will go a long way in determining the regular season champion.
4. Indiana at Michigan, Mar. 8. Last year’s regular-season finale between these two teams was one for the ages. Jordan Morgan’s last-second layup attempt rolled around the rim and fell out as the Hoosiers’ clinched their first outright Big Ten title in two decades. This game will likely have Big Ten title implications, and most importantly, it comes in the final week of the regular season.
5. Wisconsin at Indiana, Jan. 14. When was the last time Indiana beat Wisconsin in Bloomington? You’d have to backtrack all the way to 2007, which was the D.J. White era in Bloomington. The Hoosiers will be looking for revenge after Wisconsin accounted for half of Indiana’s conference losses last season. Is this the year Tom Crean and co. finally end the streak?
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6. Michigan at Michigan State, Jan. 25. This is the first matchup between these two Big Ten powerhouses of the 2013-14 season. The Spartans embarrassed Michigan in East Lansing last season, which means that John Beilein’s club will be hungry for revenge in this contest. Each team will be coming off tough matchups as the Wolverines will play Iowa three days before; the Spartans coming off a home date with Indiana.
7. Michigan at Wisconsin, Jan. 18. Last year’s game at Madison was arguably the most exciting game in college basketball. The Badgers forced overtime on that crazy half court shot by Ben Brust at the buzzer, and then won the game when Burst splashed a tiebreaking 3-pointer with less than 40 seconds left in overtime. What’s in store this year? I can’t wait.
8. Michigan State at Iowa, Jan. 28. Iowa returns all five starters from last year’s team and could be a dark-horse in the Big Ten title race this season. The Hawkeyes dropped both contests to MSU last season, but each game was decided by just one possession. This could be Iowa’s chance to grab that signature win that Fran McCaffery has been looking for since arriving at Iowa back in 2010.
9. Indiana at Purdue, Feb. 15. One of the top Big Ten rivalries lost some flavor last year after the Hoosiers stomped all over Purdue in the teams’ two meetings. Matt Painter hasn’t beaten Indiana since the 2010-11 season, so could this could be the team to do so. Purdue is young and inexperienced, but make no mistake about it, this is a very talented group. Also keep in mind, this is the only time these two teams are scheduled to meet this year.
10. Michigan at Nebraska, Jan. 9. What a way for Nebraska to open the new Pinnacle Bank Arena; hosting national runner-up Michigan. The Cornhuskers should be much-improved in Tim Miles’ second season on the sidelines. Expect a huge game from Nebraska senior guard Ray Gallegos, who should have the home crowd engaged in this contest from start to finish.
|About Sean Merriman||BTN.com web editor Sean Merriman covers football and men’s basketball and provides original content for BTN.com. You can follow him on Twitter @BTNSean.|