Game Rankings: Last week of season loaded with intrigue

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Game Rankings: Last week of season loaded with intrigue

The final week of the season is upon us. And Indiana already has a share of the Big Ten title. The Hoosiers can secure the outright Big Ten title with one more win, either at Iowa on Tuesday or vs. Maryland on Saturday.

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Iowa, Maryland, Michigan State and Wisconsin all could earn a share of the crown, too, assuming they win-out and the Hoosiers lose their two aforementioned games.

Here is a look at this week’s action.

1. Indiana at Iowa, Tuesday. One of the biggest games of the week. The Hoosiers already have a share of the league title, the program’s 22nd. The Hawkeyes are in a free fall, losers of three in a row. At one time, it looked like Iowa would win the Big Ten for the first time since 1978-79. Now, any chance to win at least a share of the title is dwindling. This is a must win.

2. Maryland at Indiana, Sunday. This is the only meeting of the season between these teams. Each is on opposite trajectories. Maryland has lost three of its last four games. IU has won three in a row and four of five. Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell started his 131st game against Illinois, passing former teammate Christian Watford for the most starts in program history.

3. Wisconsin at Purdue, Sunday. The Boilermakers beat the Badgers in the Big Ten opener for both teams in Madison. But that was when Wisconsin was struggling way back on Dec. 29 with an 8-5 mark. Now, UW is the hottest team in the Big Ten, winners of 10 of 11 games. Wisconsin has clinched a winning record in Big Ten play for the 16th consecutive season, equaling the longest streak in conference history. Purdue also recorded 16 straight winning conference seasons from 1972-88.

4. Iowa at Michigan, Saturday. The wheels are coming off the Hawkeyes, losers of three in a row and four of five. The Wolverines’ NCAA resume could use some polishing, and a win over Iowa would help. Michigan has beaten Maryland and Purdue in Ann Arbor.

5. Purdue at Nebraska, Tuesday. The Boilermakers have lost their last three road games since a four-point escape at Minnesota. The Huskers need a good win to enhance their postseason chances. They’ve already beaten Michigan State in East Lansing, so they know how to pull off the upset. Purdue hammered Nebraska earlier this season in West Lafayette.

6. Wisconsin at Minnesota, Wednesday. The Badgers are zeroing in on yet another top-four finish in the Big Ten, a streak began by Bo Ryan in 2001-02. The Gophers have won two of their last three, but are undermanned following the suspensions of Kevin Dorsey, Nate Mason and Dupree McBrayer.

7. Ohio State at Michigan State, Saturday. The Spartans enter the final week of the Big Ten season on a conference-best four-game winning streak. Indiana and Wisconsin have each won three consecutive games.

8. Nebraska at Northwestern, Sunday. Neither team has enjoyed the type of season they envisioned. It may be NIT-or-bust for these squads. But, their futures look bright.

9. Northwestern at Penn State, Thursday. The 18-win Wildcats are on target to win 20 games for the first time since the 2010-11 season, when they finished 20-14.

10. Illinois at Penn State, Sunday. The Nittany Lions had a three-game winning streak ended at Michigan State over the weekend. But, PSU could close with two wins (it also plays Northwestern at home) for an 8-10 Big Ten record. That would be nice.

11. Illinois at Maryland, Thursday. Along with Iowa, Michigan State and Wisconsin, the Terps remain in the hunt for at least a share of the Big Ten championship. Indiana owns a two-game lead over the Hawkeyes, Terrapins, Spartans and Badgers. All four teams have two games remaining.

12. Minnesota at Rutgers, Saturday. The Golden Gophers beat the Scarlet Knights last week in a game that featured teams with one combined conference win. Can Rutgers avoid a potentially winless Big Ten season? With two games left, Rutgers (6-23, 0-16) is on the verge of becoming the first Big Ten team to go winless in conference play since Northwestern went 0-16 in 1999-2000.

13. Michigan State at Rutgers, Wednesday. This one is going to get ugly. RU has lost 16 games in a row and 31 Big Ten games in succession.

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Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer

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, and send him questions to his weekly mailbag.

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