It’s a great debate across the Midwest, stretching from Lincoln over to State College and up to Minneapolis and down to Bloomington: Is the Big Ten the best league in the nation? You can make a case for and against the notion, but the topsy-turvy nature of the season has been crazy. Get this: Since Jan. 25, road teams have won 22 of 40 games. And of the six games played last Saturday or Sunday, the visitor won five.
Despite their missteps on Sunday, Michigan and Michigan State remain atop the Big Ten. But keep an eye on third-place Iowa, which begins a big week tonight with a trip to Indiana. Iowa is just a game behind the front-running Wolverines and Spartans. To have any shot to stake a claim of the crown, the Hawkeyes must win this game vs. the slumbering Hoosiers. That would set up a big visit to Iowa City by Wisconsin over the weekend. This is gonna be a fun ending to the regular-season.
Michigan and Michigan State had been immune to most of the zaniness that has come to define this Big Ten season. But all that ended on Sunday for the league’s first-place teams.
Something strange happened last night: There was no chaos in the Big Ten. No upsets. No unranked teams winning on the road vs. ranked teams. And, as you know, that’s not normal. So, instead of zaniness, we got a dose of predictable outcomes: Michigan State whipped Northwestern in East Lansing, and Wisconsin took care of business in the Kohl Center vs. Minnesota.
Indiana’s strange and bizarre season took another unexpected and maddening turn last night with a home loss to last-place Penn State. How can this IU team beat top-10 squads like Wisconsin and Michigan in Bloomington, and then lose to the likes of the Nittany Lions and Northwestern at home? It’s safe to say, panic has set in for Indiana.
Big win for Michigan last night, wading into Ohio State and prevailing. This was a Wolverines team that was slumping, having lost two of three games. And the Buckeyes were rolling, ripping off three victories in a row. No matter, Michigan won to stay atop the Big Ten. Has this team had a more impressive win all season? Nope.
Big game tonight, as Michigan plays at Ohio State. The Wolverines are tied for first place with Michigan State with a 9-2 record. But Michigan is slumping, losing two of its last three. And both defeats were on the road: at Indiana; at Iowa. Conversely, the Buckeyes are playing well, winning three in a row after losing five of six games. Here’s what to watch for tonight.
The Big Ten race looks like it’s gonna come down to Michigan State and Michigan. Not a big shock. Each team has a 9-2 Big Ten mark. And each team is in a bit of a slump, losing two of its last three games. Still, once the Spartans get healthy, you have to think they should win the conference, right? Right.
Michigan State continues to wait on the signature of top recruit Malik McDowell, an in-state defensive end and the top player in Michigan who picks the Spartans over Ohio State and Florida State. This story explains the ramifications of an athlete not signing a letter-of-intent. It’s really no big whoop. No one needs to sign one to get a scholarship. In fact, I always have felt LOIs are a bad deal for touted prospects. In fact, they may be better off not signing them.
The dust has settled on National Signing Day. Have you recovered from the frenzy? Ohio State was the big winner. No surprise. Urban Meyer has loads of momentum and mojo. In fact, he’s three for three when it comes to winning Big Ten recruiting titles. Now, he just needs to win his first on-field championship. That may be coming this fall.
Oh, yes: It’s National Signing Day! It’s a de facto national holiday for many in America. You know who you are. But, hey, who am I to judge? I still eat Fruity Peebles. This day is all about that guy in your office who hits the “refresh” button every nanosecond on his computer to get the latest round of official commitments. Please, don’t rat him out to the boss. Here is a handy-dandy place to keep up with the Big Ten signings.
From the good news, bad news department: Several Big Ten schools are projected to make the NIT, college hoops’ version of the Belk Bowl, Little Caesar’s Bowl, Beef O’Brady’s Bowl, Pinstripe Bowl … well you get the idea … all rolled into one gloriously meaningless event.
The upside down world that has become Big Ten basketball continued over the weekend. The latest installment of craziness was unranked Indiana’s home win over No. 10 Michigan, the last Big Ten squad unbeaten in league play. Who saw this coming? This was a Hoosiers club that had lost three of four—including a home loss to Northwestern and a loss at Nebraska–coming into the meeting yesterday. Don’t try to understand it. Just enjoy it.
Is Nebraska becoming a basketball school? I kid. But, you have to be impressed with the work of Tim Miles, the upbeat Howdy Doody of Big Ten coaches. The guy emotes enough positivity to light up Scottsbluff, Neb. Last night’s win over Indiana made the Cornhuskers 10-1 at home and was the team’s third victory in four games. Hey, I’m a believer. Give me two of whatever Miles is drinking … pronto.
What a crazy, loony night in the Big Ten. First, last-place Penn State waltzed into No. 24 Ohio State and won. If that wasn’t zany enough, Northwestern cruised into No. 17 Wisconsin and shocked the world with a triumph. The more I learn about this Big Ten race, the less I seemingly know. Confused? You betcha.
A huge win for Michigan State last night at Iowa City. I didn’t think the Spartans could prevail without Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson in that hostile environment vs. that talented Hawkeyes squad.
If you are a Big Ten hoops fan, then you wanna be in Iowa City tonight. That’s where Michigan State will play Iowa in what’s the best matchup of the week. Each squad is chasing Big Ten front-runner Michigan, which beat the Hawkeyes and Spartans last week. No doubt, playing at Iowa will be a big challenge for Michigan State.
No doubt, it’s good to be Michigan. The Wolverines are coming off a monster week in which they took control of the Big Ten with huge victories vs. Iowa and at Michigan State.
If it’s not one thing, it’s another for Michigan State. Or, so it seems. News broke late Thursday afternoon that Branden Dawson had broken his right hand and will be out four to five weeks. How did it happen? Dawson slammed his hand on a table in frustration while watching film. He explains in this video. Looks Kenny Kaminski will need to step up as a defender on Glenn Robinson III. Meanwhile, reaction in social media circles has been critical. And that has MSU coach Tom Izzo fuming.
If you aren’t on it already, you may want to jump on the Michigan bandwagon before it hits 88 mph and vanishes. The Wolverines are legit, notching another big win last night. This time, hard-charging and high-flying Iowa was the victim, as the Wolverines moved to 6-0 in the Big Ten. And, they are doing all of this without injured Mitch McGary, out with a back injury. Oh, and Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway, Jr., also are gone. It’s incredible, really.
Big game tonight, Hoop Heads: Iowa at Michigan. And the Hawkeyes’ Roy Devyn Marble has some extra motivation. “I’m trying to knock a couple of teams off the bucket list,” said Marble, a senior and Michigan native who has never won at Michigan or Michigan State during his Iowa career. “I got both of them at home. I want to get them (on the road). It’s an important game because it’s the next one. Each game is important when you’re in the race to win a Big Ten championship.”
If Buckeyes fans aren’t feeling good today, we understand. That’s four losses in a row for Ohio State, which fell at Nebraska last night to a Cornhuskers’ squad that was 0-4 in the Big Ten. This is OSU’s longest losing skid since 2007-08.
There is so much to like about Iowa hoops. Where to start after witnessing its win over Minnesota? Let’s count the ways with this look at its remarkable depth. If Devyn Marble and Aaron White aren’t doing damage, guys like Josh Oglesby, Zach McCabe and Gabe Olaseni are. It’s quite impressive, really. Minnesota actually led Iowa on Sunday at halftime, 43-41. It lost, 94-73. Stunning.