B1G week ahead: Iowa games top the list

At first glance it’s not a great menu of games this week, but we all know anything can happen. As the Big Ten hits the homestretch of the season, Michigan has a one-game lead in the title chase and the Wolverines should cruise in its two games this week. Michigan State sits one game out and Wisconsin trails by two. Can the Spartans and Badgers keep pace?

Here’s a look at all the games this week. Don’t forget that our real-time scoreboards have times and TV info, too.

1. Iowa at Minnesota, Tues., Feb. 25: Two teams that have been equal parts top-notch and tease, as consistency has been elusive. The Gophers are really struggling, failing to score more than 50 points in their last two games. They need to win this one to keep fading NCAA hopes afloat.

2. Iowa at Indiana, Thurs., Feb. 27: This is the makeup game from last week. And it could be a fun, exciting, up-and-down the floor game. A win would boost the Hoosiers’ sagging postseason hopes. The Hawkeyes want to finish strong to take some mojo to the Big Ten tourney.

[ MORE: Which team is on upset alert this week? ]

3. Nebraska at Illinois, Wed., Feb. 26: The Fighting Illini have shown a pulse of late, going 2-2 in their last four games. Can they cool off the red-hot Huskers, who have won five in a row? This is big for Nebraska, as it fights for an NCAA bid. It can’t afford to lose as it looks for a third league road win.

Big Ten Standings (through 2/24)
Conference Overall
W-L W-L
Michigan 11-3 19-7
Michigan State 11-4 22-6
Wisconsin 9-5 22-5
Iowa 8-5 19-7
Ohio State 9-6 22-6
Nebraska 8-6 16-10
Minnesota 6-9 17-11
Indiana 5-8 15-11
Purdue 5-9 15-12
Northwestern 5-10 12-16
Illinois 4-10 15-12
Penn State 4-10 13-14

View Full Standings

4. Ohio State at Penn State, Thurs., Feb. 27: This could be a tough one for the Buckeyes. Remember, the Nittany Lions won in overtime in Columbus earlier this season. But if good defense trumps good offense, Ohio State should escape State College with a victory.

5. Indiana at Wisconsin, Tues., Feb. 25: The Badgers enter the week as one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten, riding a five-game winning streak that has included wins over the likes of Michigan State, Michigan and Iowa. And Wisconsin has revenge on its mind after losing at Indiana earlier this season, the Badgers’ first loss of the season that sent the team in a horrid tailspin.

6. Wisconsin at Penn State, Sun., March 2: The Badgers are just two games off the pace, still harboring Big Ten title hopes. But this is a trapdoor game vs. a pesky Nittany Lions club that has some offensive skill. This could be a fun, high-scoring game.

7. Ohio State at Indiana, Sun., March 2: This game looked great back in October. Now? Not so much so. IU is just 3-3 in Big Ten games at home. This will be the Hoosiers’ third game in six days.

8. Minnesota at Michigan, Sat., March 1: The Gophers are 2-6 on the road in the Big Ten. The Wolverines are 6-1 at home in the Big Ten. Michigan has a league title in its sights as it plays a Minnesota club that’s struggling on both ends of the court. I think you can see where I’m going with this.

[ MORE: Listen to the men’s coaches answer questions on their weekly teleconference. ]

9. Michigan at Purdue, Wed., Feb. 26: The best team in the Big Ten meets arguably the worst team in the Big Ten. The Wolverines should cruise vs. a Boilermakers team that has been embarrassed the last two games. Where’s the heart? Where’s the fight? Does anyone care? Purdue may keep it close for a while.

10. Illinois at Michigan State, Sat., March 1: Yes, Illinois won at Minnesota last week. But the rebuilding Illini aren’t ready to win in this venue vs. a Spartans club with no margin for error if it wants a shot at the Big Ten crown. Time for MSU to make a statement.

11. Purdue at Iowa, Sat., March 1: This will be the Hawkeyes’ third game in five days. Will they have any legs left? The good news: Iowa will be at home playing a Boiler squad that is horrible on the road and appears resigned to its fate as a bottom-feeder.

12. Northwestern at Nebraska, Sat., March 1: Get to your seats early, Huskers fans. This is going to be one of those fun games where everyone dressed on the Nebraska bench is going to play. Remember when Doc Sadler coached this team? Neither do I. Have some fun, Cornhuskers. You’ve earned it.

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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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