Here are 10 Big Ten stories to read to start your week

Who is the hottest team in the league? It’s Wisconsin, and it’s not even close. After Sunday’s win at Penn State, the Badgers have ripped off seven wins in a row.

And the Badgers could win-out, as they finish at home vs. Purdue and with a trip to Nebraska. Hard to believe this Wisconsin team lost five of six at one point—including three in a row at home … one to Northwestern.

***

Is it time for Michigan State to panic? The Spartans lost at home to Illinois on Saturday, giving Tom Izzo’s crew a 5-3 Big Ten home mark. When was the last time this program lost three league games in the Breslin Center? The year was 1997. That makes MSU 4-6 in its last 10 games. And it also puts the Spartans two games behind front-running Michigan with games left vs. Iowa and at Ohio State. Keith Appling’s head is at the heart of the issues.

Graham Couch of the Lansing State Journal provides a nice look at Big Ten tourney scenarios for MSU. The Spartans could be playing on Thursday. Really.

***

All hail Michigan! The Wolverines have clinched a share of the Big Ten title as they ride a three-game winning streak. And Michigan got a big assist from Michigan State, which lost at home to Illinois. Michigan has games left at Illinois and vs. Indiana as it takes aim at its first outright league crown since 1985-86. The Wolverine supporting cast can’t get enough credit.

While having a share of title in hand is great, this team is capable of much more.

***

It seems like only yesterday that Illinois was mired in an eight-game losing skid. Look at the Fighting Illini now! John Groce’s crew is riding a three-game winning streak and has won four of its last six games. Postseason hopes that seemed to be dying on the vine suddenly have sprung to life.

***

It hasn’t been a good week for Iowa. The Hawkeyes played three games in a six-day period last week—and Iowa lost two of three. The defense has been an issue … a big issue. The good news: The Hawkeyes’ misery ended Sunday with a win over Purdue. But, honestly, there was more relief than joy in the triumph. Thank goodness Mike Gesell delivered down the stretch.

***

Will Minnesota make the NCAA tourney? It could be a close call. No doubt, the loss at Michigan over the weekend was a missed opportunity. Heck, a win in Ann Arbor may have sewn up a bid.

***

For a while, it looked like Indiana’s season was going nowhere. But the Hoosiers have come to life, winning three of four games. IU has been a giant killer of sorts at home, knocking off Wisconsin and Michigan. Ohio State was the latest ranked team to fall in Assembly Hall.

***

For a moment there, I thought Ohio State had snapped out of its funk. But, after two losses in a row, questions again orbit around the Buckeyes. Where is the confidence? Where is the toughness?

***

Tom Shatel of Omaha.com has a nice Q&A with Nebraska’s Bo Pelini. Is this an easier, softer and gentler Pelini?

TWEETS THAT MATTER

My take: It’s gonna be a good race to the finish.

My take: Well, that streak may be ending.

My take: Unreal.

My take: Interesting.

My take: Is there a better coach in America?

My take: Great teams win on the road. And this is a great team.

My take: Now there is a positive spin.

My take: He is a nice presence down low and has been a key to Illinois’ hot streak.

My take: He is needed. Stay tuned.

My take: Think you are correct.

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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