Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, February 10, 2015

The Big Ten race is hitting the home stretch, and one thing is clear: Wisconsin is primed to run away with the title.

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No shock. The Badgers are 9-1 in the Big Ten. Every other conference squad has at least four defeats.

After Wisconsin, how will the rest of the league race shake out, as Maryland, Ohio State, Indiana, Purdue, Iowa, Michigan State and Illinois jockey to polish resumes for inclusion in the NCAA tourney?

Here?s a breakdown. And when the bracket is revealed in March, I expect to see six Big Ten teams: Wisconsin, Maryland, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio State and Illinois. Sorry, Michigan State and Purdue.


Record: 19-5; 7-4
Issues: The Terps have spotty perimeter defense and their post play has lagged. This team also has one of the worst assist/turnover ratios in the league.
Big games left: Indiana; Wisconsin; at Nebraska
Quality wins: Arizona State*; Iowa State*, at Oklahoma State; at Michigan State; at Purdue; Michigan State
Bad losses: none
Skinny: Maryland has many good wins-and some on the road–countered with no clunker losses. Still, it has been almost a month since the Terps had back-to-back victories. But Maryland looks primed to make the NCAAs.
NCAA hopes: Ascending

Record: 18-6; 7-4
Issues: This team?s seniors have not contributed as expected. A reliance on freshmen could prove troublesome down the stretch.
Big games left: at Michigan State; Purdue; Wisconsin
Quality wins: Illinois; Indiana; Maryland
Bad losses: none
Skinny: The Buckeyes did little in the non-conference and have no good road wins but seem to be hitting their stride, thanks to the play of freshmen D'Angelo Russell and Jae-Sean Tate. This team has learned how to play defense and has developed depth. Thad Matta can coach, plain and simple.
NCAA hopes: Ascending

Record: 17-7; 7-4
Issues: Defense. It?s the worst in the Big Ten, as IU allows 72.6 points. The Hoosiers also are No. 12 in turnover margin.
Big games left: at Maryland; Purdue; Iowa; Michigan State
Quality wins: SMU; Pitt; Butler*; at Nebraska; Ohio State; at Illinois; Maryland
Bad losses: Eastern Washington
Skinny: The go-go Hoosiers? resume glistens with some nice wins, with a couple coming on the road. A killer offense covers up deficiencies elsewhere. This small-but-talented team will dance.
NCAA hopes: Ascending

Record: 15-8; 6-4
Issues: This isn?t a great shooting team, especially from 3-point range (12th in Big Ten).
Big games left: at Nebraska; Illinois; at Indiana
Quality wins: at North Carolina; at Ohio State; at Minnesota; Ohio State; at Michigan; Maryland.
Bad losses: none
Skinny: The Hawkeyes have as many good wins as any Big Ten team-especially on the road. Plus, they have no ugly losses. Iowa could end up finishing second, as it has a light remaining schedule. This team will be in the Big Dance.
NCAA hopes: Ascending

Record: 15-9; 7-4
Issues: The point guard play is spotty for a team that also lacks consistent long-range shooting.
Big games left: at Indiana; at Ohio State; at Michigan State; Illinois
Quality wins: N.C. State; BYU*; Iowa; Indiana; Ohio State
Bad losses: North Florida; Gardner-Webb
Skinny: The Boilermakers have some nice home wins, but they need a good road triumph to help compensate for two of the ugliest losses by any Big Ten team. Purdue also lost to a bad Vanderbilt team. This team needs a strong finish to make its first NCAA since 2012.
NCAA hopes: Descending

Record: 15-8; 6-4
Issues: This team is horrible at shooting free throws, ranking last in the conference. And MSU is 13th in the Big Ten in turnover margin.
Big games left: Ohio State; at Illinois; at Wisconsin; Purdue; at Indiana
Quality wins: at Iowa; Indiana
Bad losses: Texas Southern
Skinny: There are a few good victories for Tom Izzo?s club. And there are some ?good? losses to the likes of Duke, Kansas and Notre Dame. The Spartans have five more ?big? games to impress. It?s gonna take a strong finish to avoid missing the NCAA tourney for the first time since 1997.
NCAA hopes: Descending

Record: 16-8; 6-5
Issues: This team isn't strong on the glass, ranking 10th in rebounding margin.
Big games left: at Wisconsin; Michigan State; at Iowa; at Purdue
Quality wins: Baylor*; Maryland; Purdue; at Michigan State
Bad losses: none
Skinny: The Illini are appearing in mock brackets and have a resume of ?quality? wins that can match most Big Ten clubs. This team appears to be hitting its stride-and it?s doing so without top player Rayvonte Rice. The Illini just may make the NCAA tourney.
NCAA chances: Ascending

*neutral site game

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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