The regular season is over. On to the league tourneys. Basically, six teams look to be locks for the Big Dance: Michigan, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Nebraska, Ohio State, Iowa. Minnesota is squarely on the bubble.
The Big Ten tourney bracket is set. Tip-off is early Thursday afternoon at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The top four seeds: 1. Michigan; 2. Wisconsin; 3. Michigan State; 4. Nebraska. Those four, of course, all earn first-round byes. Here’s a quick look at what each team has on the line in Indy.
It has been slow, steady growth for Indiana under Kevin Wilson. And, that’s good. Progress is being made as the Hoosiers inch closer to their first bowl since the 2007 season.
It looked like Bo Pelini would enter 2014 on a bit of a hot seat, but that talk has been cooled off with news that he’s inked a five-year contract extension. It’s a remarkable turn of events.
The upcoming Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament promises to be full of intrigue and potentially wide-open. Five of the last seven No. 1 seeds have won the Big Ten tourney. The last time someone lower than a No. 3 seed won it was Iowa, which turned the trick as a No. 6 seed in 2001.
I’m taking one last shot around the Big Ten as we close in on the final weekend of the season. Michigan already has the league title so the biggest drama left is the battle for fourth place. Can Nebraska seal it up? A win over Wisconsin would do the trick (game airs Sunday at 7:30 on BTN/BTN2Go). Minnesota is sitting on the NCAA bubble, needing to close the season with a win as it heads to the Big Ten tourney to bolster its resume.
It got ugly near the end, which was unfortunate, but Michigan State notched a much-needed win last night vs. Iowa. The Spartans had gone 4-6 in their previous 10 games. This triumph will give MSU some momentum as it heads to Ohio State for the regular-season finale. The Spartans needed a night like this. And they especially needed Keith Appling to rediscover his groove, which he did in the second half.
The National Football Foundation has released its 2014 College Football Hall of Fame ballot, and plenty of players with ties to Big Ten schools are up for election. In fact, among the 75 FBS players, there are 21 Big Ten players.
The amazing story of Nebrasketball continues, as the Cornhuskers rolled into Indiana last night and won. Ho-hum, right? We’ve come to expect this, right? That gave Nebraska a sweep of the season series with the Hoosiers. (More proof that if you live long enough, you WILL see everything.) This is just bizarro. But it’s also fun as heck. Someone call Hollywood.
It seems every radio show I am on, I’m asked this question: Is the Big Ten the best league in America? Or, it is an average league with a lot of good teams?
Nebraska begins a final push for its first NCAA bid since 1998 tonight with a visit to Indiana. Not bad for a team picked to finish last in the Big Ten. Can the Cornhuskers close the deal? It will be difficult, as a visit from Wisconsin follows this game. “We’re good enough to be a tournament team,” Tim Miles told reporters. “We just need to win enough games to prove it.”
There is just no sugarcoating it: Darrell Hazell’s debut was brutal. How brutal? The 1-11 season arguably was the worst in Purdue history. And the one win came vs. a FCS foe that went—you guessed it—1-11. There was very little that this team did well last season during a winless Big Ten campaign in which blowouts were the norm. Perhaps this summarizes things best: The best player on the team was the punter.
Few teams in the nation are playing better than Wisconsin. In fact, the Badgers may have the stuff of a No. 1 NCAA seed. Really. Read on.
The good times are rolling at Minnesota, as Jerry Kill continues to put his stamp on the program. The proof: The Golden Gophers’ win total has improved each of Kill’s three seasons, going from three to six to eight victories last season. The guy has won at every stop in his career.
Michigan’s game at Illinois game tonight (read the review) that will take place tonight didn’t look so interesting a few weeks ago. Now, it drips with intrigue. A win would wrap up the outright Big Ten title for the Wolverines, the program’s first since 1985-86. But they know the threat that the Fighting Illini poses, having won three in a row and held their last four foes under 50 points.
Gary Andersen’s debut in Madison was a rousing success—save for the stumble at the end that saw the Badgers lose their regular-season finale at home to Penn State and then fall to South Carolina in the bowl game. Still, there is a lot for Wisconsin to build on after last year’s 9-4 mark that saw the program’s run of three consecutive Rose Bowls come to end.
There are five teams that look to be locks for NCAA bids: Michigan, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Ohio State and Iowa. But four other schools enter the final week of action making pushes for the Big Dance: Minnesota, Illinois, Nebraska and Indiana. Of course, each team could earn a NCAA bid by winning the Big Ten tourney in Indianapolis, which begins March 13. But short of that, what does each team need to do to make it as an at-large squad?
This is it, the last week of Big Ten action. And, that means one thing: Expect the unexpected. As for the title chase, there isn’t much drama left, as Michigan already has wrapped up at least a share of the championship. Other schools are looking to enhance their NCAA resumes.
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.
“Working” officials is an art form. Some coaches are masters at knowing just the right buttons to push over the course of a game to the point where—Who knows?—maybe they can get a key call in their favor. I asked several media members who cover the Big Ten which coach they felt was best at “working” officials.
Anticipation continues to bubble at Ohio State. It always does, just in varying degrees each season. Urban Meyer’s third Buckeye squad has the natives excited as it will begin to take shape. And there is plenty of work to do.
An interesting week in the Big Ten, as Michigan surged to the top of the conference as it looks for its outright conference championship since the 1985-86 season.