Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, February 3, 2015

A baker?s dozen worth of games dots the Big Ten menu this week, as the season chugs into the second half.

Wisconsin looks to maintain its stranglehold on the conference chase. Will anyone catch the Badgers?

What cluster of the five teams with 6-3 Big Ten marks can strengthen its resume in search of an NCAA bid?


1. Ohio State at Purdue, Wednesday – BTN (Watch on BTN2Go). The game of the week in the Big Ten with the winner perhaps asserting itself as the second-best team in the conference. Five teams are tied for second. Will the cluster break up this week? Can the Boilermakers contain the Buckeyes? offensive skill? Will Ohio State be able to deal with Purdue?s size?

2. Indiana at Wisconsin, Tuesday. The Hoosiers have had some success on the road, winning at Nebraska and at Illinois. But this is Wisconsin, which has won 13 of its last 14 against Indiana. This would be a huge upset-and it could happen if IU shoots well. But will Indiana wilt under the Badgers? defensive intensity? And what Hoosier is gonna guard Frank Kaminsky?

3. Maryland at Iowa, Sunday – BTN (Watch on BTN2Go). The Hawkeyes need to find a way to win in Iowa City vs. a Terrapins club that has encountered some defensive issues of late. No doubt, Iowa?s Aaron White will need to have a big game.

4. Purdue at Minnesota, Saturday – BTN (Watch on BTN2Go). The Boilermakers already have won two league road games-at Penn State and at Northwestern. But prevailing in the venerable Barn will be difficult. The Gophers need to defend their turf in what has been a disappointing season to date.

5. Michigan at Indiana, Sunday. The Hoosiers are one of three Big Ten teams that are unbeaten at home in Big Ten play. The Wolverines likely lack the firepower to keep pace with this IU squad. How much pride and moxie do the Wolverines possess?

6. Iowa at Michigan, Thursday. Can the Wolverines find a way to win without Derrick Walton Jr. and Caris LeVert? It?s gonna be difficult vs. a Hawkeye squad with a sense of urgency sparked by a three-game losing skid.

7. Illinois at Michigan State, Saturday. The Spartans? defense and rebounding muscle figure to be too much for a shorthanded Fighting Illini club to overcome in a hostile environment.

8. Rutgers at Illinois, Tuesday – BTN (Watch on BTN2Go). Yes, the Fighting Illini have one of the shallowest rosters in the league, as John Groce has had to deal with injury and suspension. Still, Illinois remains a tough out thanks to good defense and timely offense.

9. Northwestern at Nebraska, Tuesday – BTN (Watch on BTN2Go). Let?s call this a ?must win? for a Cornhuskers? squad whose NCAA hopes are dwindling. Nebraska needs to re-discover its offensive groove. The Wildcats are one of the Big Ten?s hard-luck squads, losers of seven in a row with an overtime loss and six other defeats by eight points or less in that stretch.

10. Penn State at Maryland, Wednesday – BTN (Watch on BTN2Go). The Nittany Lions still are searching for their first Big Ten road win. And it probably won?t come in College Park, Md. PSU figures to struggle with the Terps? firepower.

11. Nebraska at Penn State, Saturday. Each team is trying to climb over the other to Big Ten relevancy. At the least, the clash between D.J. Newbill and Terran Petteway will be entertaining, although Petteway has been in a bit of a funk.

12. Ohio State at Rutgers, Sunday – BTN (Watch on BTN2Go). The Buckeyes need to beware: The Scarlet Knights beat Wisconsin earlier this season in Piscataway. It might not matter, though, if D'Angelo Russell and Jae-Sean Tate keep up their recent play.

13. Northwestern at Wisconsin, Saturday – BTN (Watch on BTN2Go). First place meets last place. This can?t have a good ending for the Wildcats, can it?

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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