Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, February 2, 2016

There are three games this week that will go a long way in shaping the season. Is this the week Maryland finally loses a Big Ten home game? Can Michigan stay hot? And maybe we?ll get an upset along the way.

[ MORE: Power Rankings | Big Ten midterm grades | Best of the first half of B1G play | Previewing the week ahead | Ranking the week's games | Bracketology | Scoreboard | Standings | Stats | Polls | Win a trip for two to the Big Ten tourney ]

Here is a ranking of this week?s action.

1. Michigan State at Michigan, Saturday. Is there a more underrated team in the Big Ten than the Wolverines, who have won four in a row? What?s amazing is Michigan has played well without its best player, as Caris LeVert has missed the last eight games with injury. MSU has won three in a row vs. Michigan.

2. Purdue at Maryland, Saturday. A clash of titans. The Terps still have not lost a Big Ten home game since joining the league. The Boilermakers could use a signature win. This would be it, but Maryland may be too athletic and talented. Purdue?s best league win to date? At Wisconsin.

3. Indiana at Michigan, Tuesday. The Hoosiers saw their 12-game winning streak end last week with a loss at Wisconsin. Now, this trip to Ann Arbor will provide another big challenge to test the legitimacy of Indiana, whose schedule is about to get really difficult.

4. Maryland at Nebraska, Wednesday. This could be a potential trapdoor game for the high-flying Terrapins. Yes, the Cornhuskers have had issues winning on their home court, going 1-3 in Big Ten games in Lincoln. But Nebraska?s firepower can be deadly. If Maryland is having an off night shooting, this could get very interesting.

5. Ohio State at Wisconsin, Thursday. Two teams in similar predicaments, as both are looking to make a run at an NCAA bid. There is more pressure on the Badgers, who need to protect their home court. Michigan State and Indiana already have fallen in Kohl. And Maryland came close to succumbing. Wisconsin has won four in a row.

6. Iowa at Illinois, Sunday. Two teams in different galaxies as the season comes down the stretch. The Hawkeyes are the unquestioned class of the Big Ten, a veteran squad with firepower and swagger. The banged-up Illini have lost their last three home games.

7. Indiana at Penn State, Saturday. Penn State has lost three in a row but has fought hard in home defeats to Wisconsin and Michigan. The Nittany Lions are a physical team that could pose problems for the Hoosiers. Don?t be shocked if PSU wins if it can keep IU under 70.

8. Penn State at Iowa, Wednesday. This will be a chance for the Hawkeyes to build some momentum after suffering their first Big Ten loss last week, falling at Maryland. Iowa?s experience figures to be too much for the Nittany Lions, who have better days ahead.

9. Minnesota at Northwestern, Thursday. Two desperate teams meet. This has become a lost season for the Golden Gophers, who still are winless in the Big Ten. This may be a chance for the Wildcats to get a feel-good win to propel them down the home stretch in what quickly is turning into a disappointing season.

10. Rutgers at Nebraska, Saturday. The 1-2 punch of Andrew White III and Shavon Shields should be plenty to beat the scuffling and inury-plagued Scarlet Knights, who last won on Dec. 28.

11. Illinois at Rutgers, Wednesday. Could this be the time the Scarlet Knights finally score their first Big Ten win? Don?t count out the dynamic Illini duo of Malcolm Hill and Kendrick Nunn, as no tandem in the Big Ten scores more points.


Whatever happened to Lon Kruger?s Big Ten champion Illinois squad? Bob Asmussen of the Champaign News-Gazette gets us caught up.


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