Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, February 2, 2015

As the Big Ten seasons hits the halfway point, clarity is needed. Perhaps definition will come to the conference chase this week. One thing is certain: Wisconsin remains the team to beat.

GAME OF THE WEEK: Ohio State at Purdue, Wednesday – BTN (Watch on BTN2Go). Five teams are tied for second place with 6-3 conference records. Will anyone separate themselves from the others in the chase of first-place Wisconsin? This game in West Lafayette should provide some clarity to the tight bunch of teams. Mackey Arena will be rocking, as the Boilermakers and Buckeyes each has won three in a row. Can Purdue contain Ohio State?s work off the dribble? How will the Buckeyes deal with the Boilermakers? size?


DON?T OVERLOOK THIS GAME: Michigan at Indiana, Sunday. Each team is still within shouting distance of first-place Wisconsin. The Wolverines have overcome some key injuries to remain relevant in a Big Ten race that looks wide open from second place to 12th. Credit John Beilein, whose challenge has grown greater with Derrick Walton Jr. joining Caris LeVert on the sideline with injury. The Hoosiers live and die with their ability to shoot from long range. If IU?s shots are falling, it can beat most any team despite a lack of size.

MUST WIN: Maryland at Iowa, Sunday – BTN (Watch on BTN2Go). This is a must-game for the Hawkeyes, who need a good win to boost the team?s profile and psyche. Iowa came into last week riding a three-game losing streak. It wasn?t long ago that some were thinking the Hawkeyes could compete for their first Big Ten title since 1979. This team needs to regain the form it used in sweeping two games from Ohio State earlier this season.

BEST INDIVIDUAL MATCHUP: How about Nebraska?s Terran Petteway vs. Penn State?s D.J. Newbill on Saturday in State College? Newbill paces the Big Ten in scoring, averaging 21.5 points. No other league player averages over 20. Petteway is No. 3 in the conference with an 18.6-point average, though he and the Huskers have been struggling of late on the offensive end. Petteway has just seven and 10 points in each of his last two outings, respectively, hitting a combined 5-of-19 shots. Newbill has scored over 20 points in six of nine Big Ten games with a high of 37 vs. Purdue.

UPSET ALERT: Yes, Wisconsin almost never loses at the Kohl Center. But the Badgers need to be careful when Indiana comes to Madison on Tuesday. IU lacks much punch from its front-line, as size is an issue. But the Hoosiers are a skilled offensive team that is capable of scoring a lot of points if shots are falling. But how will Indiana deal with the defensive discipline and pressure of the Badgers? If the Hoosiers limit turnovers, get to the foul line and shoot well, they could stun Wisconsin.

BIG WEEK: Iowa. The Hawkeyes are at Michigan on Thursday and play host to Maryland on Sunday. Iowa entered the week losers of three in a row. But this could be the week that the Hawkeyes get better. The Wolverines are depleted, as injuries are taking a toll. And the Terrapins have lost two of three, as defense has become an issue. Iowa needs inside-outside balance to get back on track. The good news: Aaron White looks to be recovered from injury.

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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