Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, January 19, 2015
Let's rank this week?s Big Ten games. The headline clashes in this 14-game slate? Iowa at Wisconsin and Maryland at Indiana. All four teams have just one Big Ten loss. Each game will go a long way in shaping the title chase.
1. Iowa at Wisconsin, Tuesday. A fun clash between teams that are 4-1 in the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes have three true road wins. If it adds another in Madison, it will be very impressive vs. a Badgers? squad adapting to life without Traevon Jackson.
2. Maryland at Indiana, Thursday. A big showdown between teams atop the league standings. The Terps (5-1) are coming off one of their most impressive outings of the season after whipping Michigan State in College Park. IU (4-1) is a Big Ten surprise, coming off a win at Illinois that showed grit and resiliency.
3. Indiana at Ohio State, Sunday. It will be fun to watch Big Ten freshman sensations James Blackmon Jr. and D?Angelo Russell battle. Who is better?
4. Michigan State at Nebraska, Saturday. This is a good chance for the Huskers to notch a quality win for a resume that needs polishing. The Spartans finally are healthy and need to get in gear.
5. Iowa at Purdue, Saturday. The Boilermakers have inside-outside balance that can pose problems for foes. The Hawkeyes? offensive intensity will challenge a Purdue team that can have defensive lapses and turnover issues.
6. Wisconsin at Michigan, Saturday. The Badgers need to be wary playing in Ann Arbor vs. a wounded Wolverines team that is adjusting to life without Caris LeVert.
7. Purdue at Illinois, Wednesday. The Boilermakers have had good luck in Champaign over the years. This is a Fighting Illini team that lost the last time out at home-to Indiana. It can?t afford another slip. Purdue?s size could pose issues for the Illini.
8. Minnesota at Nebraska, Tuesday. The Gophers earned their first Big Ten win the last time out. The Cornhuskers are looking to get on track after a disappointing 2-3 start in conference action.
9. Illinois at Minnesota, Saturday. Both teams desperately need a win in a series that has been pretty close in recent years, with Illinois taking six of last 10 since 2009.
10. Penn State at Michigan State, Wednesday. A chance for the Spartans to find their rhythm vs. the Big Ten?s only winless squad in conference play.
11. Ohio State at Northwestern, Thursday. The Wildcats are still looking for their first Big Ten victory at home. Inattention to defensive details has caused the Buckeyes to be inconsistent.
12. Michigan at Rutgers, Tuesday. The Wolverines begin life without Caris LeVert. Who will be the go-to man now? If RU wants to earn a postseason bid, it probably needs to win this game.
13. Rutgers at Penn State, Saturday. A chance for two programs to get some mojo. Will this be the Nittany Lions? first league triumph?
14. Northwestern at Maryland, Sunday. A chance for the Terrapins to pad their resume.
|About Tom Dienhart||BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, 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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