Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, February 9, 2016

It goes without saying that we will discover the true colors of Indiana this week. And could Maryland finally lose a Big Ten home game? Here is a ranking of this week?s 12 games.

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1. Iowa at Indiana, Thursday. Remember when the Hoosiers were riding a 12-game winning streak? Now, IU is 2-2 in its last four games and faces a rugged slate of games. This is the first of two games vs. the Hawkeyes, who at 10-1 are off to their best Big Ten start since 1981-82.

2. Indiana at Michigan State, Sunday. This is the back part of a rugged week for the Hoosiers. The Spartans are playing with a sense of urgency. Defense, rebounding, toughness ? it?s all there for MSU, which also has found its shooting touch, draining 47 triples in the last three games.

3. Michigan State at Purdue, Tuesday. The Spartans are back on track after that three-game skid not long ago, winning four in a row as the week dawned. In typical Tom Izzo fashion, this team continues to improve. Let?s call this the ?Caleb Swanigan Game,? as Purdue freshman originally committed to the Spartans before flipping to the Boilermakers in a highly publicized recruiting battle.

4. Wisconsin at Maryland, Saturday. The Terps stole one in Madison earlier this season when Melo Trimble hit a game-winning shot with 1.2 seconds left. Can the Badgers, winners of five straight, become the first Big Ten team to win in College Park since Maryland joined the league? The Terps enter the week having won four in a row.

5. Purdue at Michigan, Saturday. The Wolverines lost in West Lafayette earlier this season. Michigan needs this one, entering the week off two bad losses at home. Can Michigan handle the big, physical Boilermakers? The Wolverines need to find their lost 3-point touch.

6. Nebraska at Wisconsin, Wednesday. The highlight here will be watching the Cornhuskers? Andrew White III take on the Badgers? Nigel Hayes. Oh, and Wisconsin just so happens to be the hottest team in the Big Ten with five wins in a row. The Badgers just might make the Big Dance, assuming it can handle its grueling remaining schedule.

7. Northwestern at Ohio State, Tuesday. This is shaping up as an NIT-type of season for the Buckeyes, and perhaps the Wildcats.

8. Michigan at Minnesota, Wednesday. Yes, the Golden Gophers are 0-11 in the Big Ten and have lost 12 in a row. Still, Minnesota is a tough out in Williams Arena. This is a game the Wolverines need to win to get on track and buff their NCAA resume.

9. Penn State at Nebraska, Saturday. Two programs on the rise. The Cornhuskers have had issues winning in Pinnacle Bank Arena. A win here may be a must if Nebraska wants an NIT bid.

10. Illinois at Northwestern, Saturday. Not much sizzle here. But, watching the Illini?s Malcolm Hill is worth the price of admission. John Groce has aptly dubbed Hill ?the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker.? Hill simply does it all. Three of Illinois' last five conference games have been extended to overtime. The Illini are the lone Big Ten team to play in multiple overtime games during conference play.

11. Minnesota at Iowa, Sunday. Two teams in different galaxies. This one could get ugly. The Hawkeyes? Mike Gesell enters the week with 998 career points, just two points shy of becoming the 16th active member of the Big Ten's career 1,000-point club.

12. Ohio State at Rutgers, Saturday. The Scarlet Knights haven?t won a Big Ten game since January 2015. That?s over a year ago, boys and girls. The Buckeyes enter the week on a two-game losing slump. Against Illinois last week, Rutgers' Corey Sanders became the second Big Ten freshman to score 39 points in a game this season. Maryland's Diamond Stone poured in 39 points in the conference opener vs. Penn State.


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