Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, February 23, 2016
Another interesting week, as Indiana, Iowa and Maryland keep their sights set on the Big Ten title. The Hoosiers have a half-game edge over the Hawkeyes and a one game advantage over the Terrapins.
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And Ohio State is making a push to get on the NCAA bubble, as the Buckeyes have won four in a row.
Here is a ranking of this week?s games.
1. Wisconsin at Iowa, Wednesday (BTN/BTN2Go). The Badgers are 8-1 in their last nine games. The only loss was at Michigan State last week. No shame in that. Iowa has lost two of its last three games, with the lone win during the stretch being a closer-than-expected home victory over then-winless Minnesota.
2. Maryland at Purdue, Saturday. The Boilers are looking for some mojo as they finish the season with four tough games. Turnovers, spotty wing play and the lack of a go-to guy hurt Purdue, which lost a tough game earlier this season in College Park. The Terrapins snapped a two-game skid with Sunday's comeback win vs. Michigan.
3. Iowa at Ohio State, Sunday. 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 as they trek to Columbus. Iowa needs to give Peter Jok and Jarrod Uthoff some scoring support.
4. Michigan State at Ohio State, Tuesday. 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 enters Tuesday's game against Michigan State on a four-game conference winning streak, the longest active stretch in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes have won at least 10 conference games for the 11th straight season.
5. Michigan at Wisconsin, Sunday (BTN/BTN2Go). The Wolverines will need Mark Donnal to play like he did at Maryland last Sunday, when he hit 10-of-13 shots for 25 points with five blocks and five rebounds.
6. Indiana at Illinois, Thursday. The Hoosiers sit atop the Big Ten standings. And they need to be careful in Champaign. Remember when the Illini beat No. 1 IU back in 2013? Hey, I?m just saying. After this game, the Hoosiers finish at Iowa and vs. Maryland. IU?s Troy Williams joined the 1,000-point club last week. The conference currently boasts 19 active players who have scored at least 1,000 career points.
7. Northwestern at Michigan, Wednesday (BTN/BTN2Go). The Wolverines are still making a push for an NCAA bid even though star Caris LeVert has missed 13 games with a lower left leg injury. Still, the Wolverines have gone 7-6 without their best player. Michigan's Zak Irvin joined the Big Ten's career 1,000-point club last week, reaching the milestone at Ohio State.
8. Nebraska at Penn State, Thursday. The Nittany Lions are more dangerous than their 5-9 Big Ten record indicates. Penn State has upset Indiana and Iowa in its last two home games, and it has won three of its last four overall. The lone defeat: at Nebraska. It's a rematch!
9. Penn State at Michigan State, Sunday (BTN/BTN2Go). The Spartans may be the best team in the Big Ten. Since a three-game losing streak, Michigan State has gone 6-1, with the loss coming by one point in OT at Purdue. The Spartans cling to league title hopes. In conference games, Michigan State's Denzel Valentine currently leads the Big Ten with 21.0 points and 7.5 assists per game, while the Spartans' Matt Costello paces the conference with 9.9 rebounds per conference game. No combination of players from the same team has led the Big Ten in all three categories during conference play since at least 1975.
10. Rutgers at Northwestern, Saturday. The Wildcats would like to make some postseason tourney. To have any shot, NU probably needs to dispatch the Scarlet Knights, who have not won a Big Ten game this season.
11. Minnesota at Illinois, Sunday (BTN/BTN2Go). The Fighting Illini won earlier this season in the Twin Cities. Watching Malcolm Hill is worth the price of admission in a season that hasn?t gone as planned in Champaign. Among players that have competed in all of their team's conference games, Hill and Michigan's Derrick Walton Jr. are the only two players in the Big Ten currently leading their teams in scoring, rebounding and assists.
12. Rutgers at Minnesota, Tuesday (BTN/BTN2Go). The Golden Gophers finally got their first Big Ten win last week, when they stunned then-No. 6 Maryland in Williams Arena. Can Minnesota make it two in a row with Rutgers-which still has not won a Big Ten game–coming to town?
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