Ranking the Games: Purdue at Indiana tops week of rivalry clashes
Twelve games dot the Big Ten menu this week, highlighted by two big ones: Purdue at Indiana on Thursday and Michigan State at Illinois on Sunday.
Here is a look—and ranking—of this week’s tilts.
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1. Purdue at Indiana, Thursday. The Boilermakers are surging, winners of six of seven games and tied for second place in the Big Ten. Still, they may not have an NCAA-worthy resume. A win in Bloomington may cure that, but the Hoosiers want revenge for an 83-67 loss to Purdue earlier this season. The Boilers’ last win in Bloomington? Feb. 2011.
2. Michigan State at Illinois, Sunday. If it seems like these teams just met, they basically did, as the Illini took a 59-54 win in East Lansing on Feb. 7. That is the Spartans’ only defeat in the last five games. A win here would buff up a dull NCAA resume.
3. Michigan State at Michigan, Tuesday. The Spartans needed overtime to get by the Wolverines in the first meeting. The Wolverines’ season is sagging, but a win vs. rival MSU would be a nice salve. It also would damage NCAA hopes of the Spartans, who have four of five games. Michigan has lost four in a row and five of six.
4. Ohio State at Michigan, Sunday. Two teams seemingly going in opposite directions. Yes, the Wolverines have a shallow roster that is littered with youth. But they will be motivated to play the rival Buckeyes. Revenge will also be on the mind of Michigan, which lost to Ohio State earlier this season.
5. Iowa at Nebraska, Sunday – BTN (watch on BTN2Go). Not long ago, the Hawkeyes were rolling, looking primed to make a run for second place in the Big Ten. But Iowa lost two tough games last week, falling at home to Minnesota and at Northwestern. Now comes a trip to Nebraska, which has lost just two Big Ten home games (Indiana and Wisconsin). Will the Hawkeyes’ misery continue?
6. Minnesota at Wisconsin, Saturday. The Badgers are running away with the Big Ten with just one conference loss and are riding an eight-game winning streak. Everyone else has at least four. Ho-hum.
7. Nebraska at Maryland, Thursday – BTN (watch on BTN2Go). The Terps have won back-to-back games for the first time since mid-January. Know this: No Big Ten club has won in College Park, Maryland, and Nebraska is 0-6 on the road in the Big Ten.
8. Northwestern at Minnesota, Wednesday – BTN (watch on BTN2Go). Richard Pitino has his team playing well, riding a three-game winning streak before a loss at Indiana. NU broke a 10-game Big Ten losing skid over the weekend.
9. Indiana at Rutgers, Sunday – BTN (watch on BTN2Go). Do the last-place Scarlet Knights have a chance vs. the Hoosiers? Rutgers did beat Wisconsin in Piscataway earlier this season—just sayin’. That said, the Scarlet Knights have lost nine in a row.
10. Wisconsin at Penn State, Wednesday – BTN (watch on BTN2Go). Bad calls or no bad calls, Penn State figures to have a tough time derailing this Badgers’ squad which is aiming for a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance. How tough has this season been for Patrick Chambers and the Nittany Lions? Penn State’s 76-73 loss to Maryland over the weekend was its eighth conference defeat by single digits, all of which it has led inside the 12:00 mark of the second half.
11. Rutgers at Iowa, Thursday. A visit from last-place Rutgers may be just what the doctor order for a slumping Hawkeyes’ squad. If Iowa loses this game … well … uh … hmmm.
12. Penn State at Northwestern, Saturday. This one is all about pride. Also, it could be enough to keep the victor out of the Big Ten basement.
|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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