Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, February 22, 2016
The Big Ten has become a three-team race, with Indiana, Iowa and Maryland battling at the top with two weeks remaining in the regular season. Don't sleep on Michigan State, either.
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Here is a look at this week?s action.
Game of the week: Wisconsin at Iowa, Wednesday (BTN/BTN2Go). The Hawkeyes have been in a bit of a funk, losing two of their last three games. Iowa lost at Maryland, then got stunned at Penn State. In between was a closer-than-expected home win vs. Minnesota. Is this team running on fumes as it crosses the finish line? Do the Hawkeyes have enough juice left to win their first Big Ten title since 1978-79? They enter the week one-half game behind Indiana. Iowa needs to protect its home court vs. a tough Wisconsin team that has won at Maryland. The Badgers are 8-1 in their last nine games.
Don?t overlook this game: Maryland at Purdue, Saturday. The Terrapins look vulnerable down the stretch, losing at home to Wisconsin and then getting stunned at previous Big Ten-winless Minnesota before needing to rally at home to beat Michigan. The Terps trail Indiana by one game in the Big Ten title chase. A win at Purdue would be huge. The Boilers are looking for some mojo but face this grueling remaining slate of games: vs. Maryland; at Nebraska; vs. Wisconsin. Turnovers, spotty wing play and lack of a go-to guy hurt Purdue.
Must win: Iowa at Ohio State, Sunday. Winning in Columbus is tough. In fact, Maryland is the only Big Ten team to do so. Making it more taxing for the Hawkeyes will be the fact the Buckeyes are fighting for their NCAA life. Beating the touted Hawkeyes would be a huge boost to an Ohio State resume that needs some luster. Conversely, Iowa has little to no wiggle room as it tries to stay in the Big Ten championship chase. The Hawkeyes have lost their last two road games and will be coming off a home game vs. Wisconsin. Iowa needs to give Peter Jok and Jarrod Uthoff some scoring support.
Best individual matchup: Nebraska?s Andrew White III vs. Penn State?s Brandon Taylor, Thursday. Two of the Big Ten's most underrated players face off this week at the Bryce Jordan Center. White is No. 4 in the Big Ten in scoring (17.5 ppg); Taylor is No. 7 (16.5 ppg). In the season's first meeting, White poured in a career-high 35 points, on 11-of-17 from the field, and Taylor had 14 points.
Upset alert: Michigan State at Ohio State, Tuesday. Could the Buckeyes dump the Spartans? Hmmm. As mentioned above, Maryland is the only Big Ten team that has won in Columbus. And this is a Buckeye squad that is looking to make a push for the NCAA tourney coming off a big overtime road win at Nebraska. Ohio State entered the week on a three-game winning streak. Since a three-game losing streak, Michigan State has gone 6-1, with the loss coming by one point in OT at Purdue.
Big week: Ohio State. The Buckeyes have two big home games as it makes a push to enhance a flimsy NCAA resume. The last time the Buckeyes missed the Big Dance? 2008. Splitting games with Michigan State and Iowa would be huge. Winning them both would be spectacular. Wisconsin also has a big week with games at Iowa and vs. Michigan.
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