The race to the finish will consist of three teams, with a close fourth place finisher in Wisconsin. At this point, the league is up for the taking for any of those teams if they decide to step up. What’s interesting is that Purdue has the easiest path and the two Michigan teams still have to play each other twice. For others that are not so fortunate – teams like Indiana, Rutgers, Northwestern, and Illinois – their tournament hopes are all but gone. We have seen strange games in the Big Ten, and at this point, the Big Ten Tournament truly can be taken by any team 1 through 14.
Big Ten Power Rankings: February 22nd, 2019
|Just when things were looking a bit shaky for Michigan, John Beilein’s crew responded with two commanding wins this week. Forget UNC-Duke. The rivalry game America should tune in to takes place Sunday afternoon, when the Wolverines put their 24-game home winning streak on the line against in-state rivals Michigan State.
|Matt Painter’s squad continues to impress game after game. In a rivalry match up with their star player Carsen Edwards going 0-10 behind the arc, the Boilermakers still found a way to win the game with their supporting cast. It was always about Edwards’ help, and, well, that help has arrived. Purdue looks strong going into the postseason.
|After a rough 3 game skid, coach Izzo and the Spartans are back on track, winning their last 4 games even though Nick Ward was out against Rutgers with a hand injury. Xavier Tillman played 33 minutes against Rutgers and put up 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Cassius Winston led the team in scoring with 28 points. Michigan State has the “next man up” mentality, and it seems like it’s working. They have a huge test at Michigan on Sunday.
|Believe it or not, Maryland’s narrow win at Iowa on Tuesday was Mark Turgeon’s first road win over a ranked team as the team’s head coach (20 attempts). Sophomore big man Bruno Fernando leads the league in field goal percentage (65.5%).
|Greg Gard’s team is right there along with Purdue, Michigan State, and Michigan to potentially win the Big Ten regular season title. This final stretch for Wisconsin is critical as they play a number of easier teams except a game at home against Iowa. If they can win out and cards fold their way, they may be in consideration to grab a share of the Big Ten.
|The Top-25 Hawkeyes needed a buzzer beating, off-the-backboard corner 3 to beat Rutgers and then fell at home to the Terrapins. Still, Iowa has not suffered a Quad 2 loss or worse this season; in other words, all six losses have come against great teams at home or good teams on the road. Iowa will take their top-10 offense (per KenPom) into tonight’s matchup against IU, before heading to OSU on Tuesday.
|Even though the Illini fell in Madison on Monday night, they have plenty to be excited about as the season winds down. In fact, a win on Saturday at home against Penn State would give Illinois five Big Ten wins in January, which would top their total conference wins from last year.
|Losing four games in a row can be mentally damaging, but the Gophers played angry during the stomping of the Hoosiers. Unfortunately, they couldn’t pull through against Michigan once again. After hitting 12-22 three pointers against IU, the Gophers went 1-10 from beyond the arc against Michigan. Additionally, Michigan’s tough defense stifled the Minnesota guards. There’s no question that Minnesota can still make the tournament, but their next two conference games are no easy task, a perfect moment to solidify their chances.
|After losing to Illinois at home and MSU on the road, OSU’s tournament chances look slimmer and slimmer. Fortunately, they took down a reeling Northwestern team at home. Unfortunately, the Buckeyes’ next three games are at Maryland, against Iowa, and at Purdue. These three teams are pretty much locks for March and are surely favorites against OSU. This is a big time chance for the Buckeyes to prove they are worthy of a chance at the big dance.
|Rutgers comes out of two tough games this week where they had a very winnable opportunity against both teams. Junior Euguene Omoruyi has surpassed senior star Geo Baker as the points leader for this team and he’s currently averaging 7.6 rebounds per game as well.
|In a league that seems to be scoring less and less, Penn State makes a statement with a 95 point victory over Nebraska in one of the highest scoring Big Ten games of the season. Lamar Stevens, one of the league’s top scorers, arguably made the right decision to return to school and improve his draft stock with his numbers this season.
|IU gave Purdue a 40-minute fight, but the offense just could not put together enough quality possessions to upset the Boilermakers. The biggest bugaboo has been 3-point accuracy, where IU has shot a jawdropping 25.8% since January 1. If the Hoosiers can rectify that alone, they could cause problems for both Iowa and Wisconsin.
|After losing seven in a row, the Huskers have won 2 of 3. When you lose a key starter like Isaac Copeland Jr., it is extremely tough to pull it together and win. It’s a good sign that Nebraska has finally pulled some wins together late in the season, but it might be too late for a chance in March, especially after they lost their last game at Penn State by more than 20 points. It doesn’t get easier for these Cornhuskers, as their next 4 games are against Purdue, at Michigan, at Michigan State, and against Iowa. They might have the most difficult remaining schedule in the nation.
|At one point this year, Northwestern was 12-7, coming off of a big win against the Hoosiers in Evanston. After that victory, it seemed as though Northwestern might make a big run to potentially make the tournament. Unfortunately, they’ve fallen off a cliff, losing now seven in a row. Ever since scoring 21 points and hitting six three pointers vs IU, Aaron Falzon has scored only 20 points and hit 6 of 24 threes in the last 7 games. Nothing is working for the Wildcats. Their goal should be to improve each game the remainder of the year.