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.”
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.
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.
Someone get me a towel and two aspirins. Whew! That was something last night. Where to begin? How about West Lafayette? Good teams find ways to grind out road victories. And that’s exactly what Michigan did last night in overtime at Purdue, stealing a win to stay atop the Big Ten standings. Sorta makes you think that this is a team of destiny.
I officially have given up trying to figure out this Iowa team. One moment, the Hawkeyes can take you breath away. In another, they can leave you gasping for air. Last night was one of those nights, as Iowa allowed 95 points in a loss to a Minnesota team that scored a combined 95 in its previous two games. The defensive lapse in the Barn was exasperating. Iowa has now lost two games in a row for the first time this season. How good is this team?
The Big Ten is Michigan’s to lose after that big win on Sunday vs. Michigan State. I mean, look at the rest of the Wolverines’ schedule: at Purdue; Minnesota; at Illinois; Indiana. See what I mean? The victory put Michigan is a good spot to at least share the league crown, as long as it wins three of its last four. But I’m sure the Wolverines would like to win out and claim the school’s first out-right league crown since 1986.
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.