Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, January 19, 2015

The Big Ten race is coming into focus, with four teams trying to separate themselves from the pack: Maryland, Wisconsin, Iowa and Indiana. Each has just one conference loss. View full standings.

Here is a look at what?s coming up this week.


GAME OF THE WEEK: Iowa at Wisconsin, Tuesday. A clash between teams that are 4-1 in the Big Ten atop the conference standings. The Badgers are supposed to be here. Few expected to see Iowa. The Hawkeyes already have won three true road games this season-winning at North Carolina, Ohio State and Minnesota. The Badgers continue to adapt to life without point man Traevon Jackson. With or without Jackson, Wisconsin is tough to beat in the Kohl Center.

DON?T OVERLOOK THIS GAME: Maryland at Indiana, Thursday. This clash is almost as good as the Iowa-Wisconsin tilt, as it also pits teams with just one Big Ten defeat. The Hoosiers have been a surprise, remaining in the thick of the Big Ten race with a 4-1 conference mark. The Terrapins sit atop the league standing with a 5-1 record. Keep in mind: Indiana has won 11 of its last 13 games vs. ranked team at Assembly Hall.

MUST WIN: If the Spartans want to stay in the thick of the Big Ten race, they need to find a way to win at Nebraska on Saturday. Michigan State is 3-2 in the Big Ten playing a Cornhuskers? club that has a sense of urgency as well, with a 2-3 conference mark and one home Big Ten defeat. Some felt Nebraska was going to be the second-best team in league. So far, that hasn?t been the case. MSU needs better play from its guards and to find scoring options outside of Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine.

BEST INDIVIDUAL MATCHUP: How about Indiana?s Yogi Ferrell vs. Maryland?s Melo Trimble on Thursday in Bloomington? Ferrell averages 15.4 points, 4.8 assists and 3.6 rebounds. Trimble averages 16.1 points, 3.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds. You might not find a better meeting of point guards all season.

UPSET ALERT: The Spartans need to be careful when Penn State visits on Wednesday. Yes, the Nittany Lions are the only Big Ten team that?s winless in league play. But Penn State is dangerous behind high-scoring D.J. Newbill. PSU has suffered some close losses in Big Ten play, dropping games by four, nine, three and seven points (in overtime). What will be Michigan State?s mind-set coming off a demoralizing loss at Maryland over the weekend?

BIG WEEK: Iowa. The Hawkeyes are 4-1 in the Big Ten, in the hunt for the school?s first conference regular-season title since 1979. Iowa will need to be dialed in with two road games: at Wisconsin on Tuesday and at Purdue on Saturday. If the Hawkeyes can earn a split, it could be deemed a success. Since a win in Madison in 2000, Iowa has won just one time on the Badgers? court (2011).

About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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