It was looking like it would be an historic night in Evanston. In front of a sold-out Welsh-Ryan Arena, the Northwestern Wildcats were locked in a tight battle with the visiting Michigan Wolverines. With a win, Northwestern would move one step closer to the 9-9 conference record that would almost certainly earn the program its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance. As a cherry on top, the Wildcats’ signature nonconference win was looking even better as Seton Hall had just finished off an impressive win over Georgetown. If Bill Carmody’s team could just pull out this victory, it could be argued that it would be the most important night in Northwestern basketball history.
With his play in recent weeks, Michigan State’s Draymond Green has solidified his hold on the top spot in my weekly player rankings. The senior is a do-it-all talent who’s driven to leave campus standing side-by-side with players like Mateen Cleaves and Magic Johnson as an all-time great en route to leading the Spartans to a Big Ten title and spot in the Final Four. I am not gonna bet against him.
Some interesting games are on tap this week, with the headliner being Wisconsin’s visit to Ohio State on Sunday. Also, front-running Michigan State may face a tough test at Minnesota, where the Gophers are a pesky team. But of all of the contenders, Michigan has the toughest tests in its quest for its first Big Ten crown since Antoine Joubert and his Jheri curl were roaming the court in 1985-86, with a game at Northwestern and a visit from Purdue.
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It’s time to release my latest Big Ten men’s hoops power rankings. The rankings are not meant to mimic the Big Ten standings. What fun would that be? They aren’t scientific, either. They’re simply my thoughts on where each Big Ten team stands right now and who would win on a neutral court. Agree? Disagree? Tweet @BTNBrentYarina or leave your comments below. Also, did you see my top 10 Big Ten plays from the past week? Watch them and vote for your top play. The latest national polls are out, as well.
With each passing week, Michigan State is looking more and more dominant. In fact, this past week may have been the Spartans’ best yet, dominating Wisconsin, 69-55, in East Lansing and whipping Purdue, 76-62, in West Lafayette. Michigan State is looking to maintain its one-game lead this week, playing at Minnesota and playing host to Nebraska. Neither game looks threatening to the Spartans, but they must remain vigilant against a letdown.
The Big Ten men’s basketball coaches held their weekly Big Ten teleconference Monday with reporters from around the league, and we’ve posted the audio from each phone interview in the post below. BTN.com will post these media sessions each Monday right up to the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament, and all of our audio can be found in our BTN.com audio archive.
What a weekend, especially for Michigan, which remains in the hunt for a Big Ten title with that impressive win over Ohio State. Read all about the surging Wolverines’ quest for their first Big Ten regular-season title since 1985-86 and other Big Ten happenings with these links in this post.