B1G Tournament: First Round Preview

The 2014 Big Ten tournament will kick off Thursday at noon from Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. As always, the first four seeds will have a bye (Michigan, Wisconsin, Michigan St., Nebraska), and will face the winners of the first round on Friday.

#8 Indiana vs. #9 Illinois – Thursday 12:00 PM ET

Photo Credit: ESPN.com

Photo Credit: ESPN.com

 

Probably the two most disappointing teams in the B1G this year, the Hoosiers (17-14, 7-11 B1G) and Fighting Illini (18-13, 7-11) will kick off the tourney in a battle of Assembly Hall occupants. Traditionally this would be a matchup between two B1G heavyweights, but after this season, tradition is broken.

The Hoosiers disappointment comes from brutal losses to the bottom bunch of the B1G. Although able to take care of most ranked opponents while at home, Indiana was a measly 3-7 against unranked opponents including a horrid loss at home to Penn State (15-16, 6-12), followed by a blowout on the road against Purdue (15-16, 5-13).

In most school’s cases, a team with as many wins over ranked opponents as the Hoosiers (4), would be a shoe in for the tournament. But with the bad losses that the Hoosiers have suffered this season, their NCAA tournament hopes look bleak.

Illinois started this season as hot as anyone. They won their first 13 of 15 and even cracked the national rankings at 23. Once gaining national recognition, the Fighting Illini folded. They went on an eight game losing streak en route to losing 10 of 11 and dropping to the bottom of the conference.

Since they’re fallout, Illinois has played well and won four of their last five, including wins over #18 Michigan State (23-8, 12-6) and #24 Iowa (20-11, 9-9). They have momentum and they can use this in the B1G tournament to salvage a lost season. Maybe they can put something together and shock us all.

Now onto the game.

The Hoosiers have the “home court” advantage in this one, with Bankers Life Fieldhouse being a short 45-minute drive out of Bloomington. This could help Indiana, but on an overall neutral court it won’t be the crowd that gets it done for the Hoosiers.

They will need big games from their three stars Yogi Ferrel, Will Sheehey and B1G Freshman of the year Noah Vonleh. In addition, Coach Tom Crean will need to step up his in game coaching and avoid consistent habits of taking out the hot player or putting in lineups that can’t even run with Division two teams.

As I tweeted earlier in the week, freshman Devin Davis will need to play a minimum of 25 minutes if the Hoosiers want to gain control of this game. Aside from Vonleh, the Hoosiers have no other legitimate low post option, but Davis has shown that given the opportunity, he can shine.

Davis averaged 8.9 minutes a game during his freshman season, leading to an average of 2.4 PPG and 2.5 RPG. Awful numbers I know.

But in his last two games, Davis has averaged 20 minutes a game, while putting up eight points a game on 80% from the floor and grabbing 4.5 boards. Davis has filled in well for Vonleh while he has suffered from a foot injury, and is a great piece to put along side Vonleh to form a formidable frontcourt.

The Fighting Illini will be led by junior guard Rayvonte Rice who leads the team in points at 15.7 per game and rebounds at 6.1 per game. Not much more firepower outside of Rice for Illinois with their next leading scorer being Tracy Abrams at 10.5 per game.

Other than splitting the season series, all factors point toward Indiana in this one. I think the Hoosiers will prevail in the opening game of the tournament with the opportunity to take on number one seed Michigan (23-7, 15-3) on Friday at noon.

#5 Ohio State vs. #12 Purdue – Thursday 2:30 PM ET

Photo Credit: ESPN.com

Photo Credit: ESPN.com

 

This matchup is clearly the most lopsided of the first round according to the seeds as well as overall strength of each team.

Ohio State (23-8, 10-8) has been ranked in the top five this season and was an elite team for most of the season, aside from a rough six game stretch in which they lost five games.

Led by LaQuinton Ross at 14.8 points per game and Lenzelle Smith Jr. at 11.7 points per game, the Buckeyes are the only team in the first round that are likely to make the NCAA tournament.

Along with Ross and Smith Jr. is senior leader and B1G defensive player of the year Aaron Craft. Craft’s numbers don’t stand out, but his heart and defensive toughness is what has been able push the Buckeyes through a brutal big ten.

Craft’s play has even drawn praise from some of the most respectable people among the sports world.

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Attempting to fend off Ohio State will be the Purdue Boilermakers (15-16, 5-13). Purdue has been in the dump for the past few years since being in the national spotlight just years earlier.

The Boilermakers had an above average start to the season, but once they hit big ten play it all went down hill. Purdue was not able to beat one ranked opponent this year and experienced two long losing streaks along the way, including a six game skid that they are currently on.

Like the Hoosiers, Purdue has a “home court” advantage, being that they are about an hour out from Indianapolis. However, no home court advantage will help the Boilermakers in this one.

When the Buckeyes traveled to West Lafayette to take on Purdue earlier in the year, they came out with a 78-69 victory. If they can’t beat them on their own home court there is little chance they will be able to pull this one out even with the advantage.

As you can see, I am predicting Ohio State to beat Purdue with slight ease and move on to face off against the number four seed Nebraska (19-11, 11-7), whom they split their season series with, on Friday after the Michigan vs. Indiana/Illinois game.

#7 Minnesota vs. #10 Penn State Thursday 6:30 PM ET

Photo Credit: ESPN.com

Photo Credit: ESPN.com

 

Thinking about this game earlier, I thought this one was going to be much tougher to pick. I let some time go by and then realized that this matchup has Minnesota (19-12, 8-10) written all over it.

For starters, the Golden Gophers swept Penn State in their regular season series, including an 18-point blow out just last Sunday.

Minnesota is led by junior guard Andre Hollins, averaging 14.6 points per game. Helping ease the load for Hollins is fellow guard Deandre Mathieu. Mathieu is second on the team in scoring at 11.9 a game on 50% shooting, while leading the team in assists with 4.4 a game.

The Golden Gophers have had an inconsistent season to say the least, but they are good enough to play with anyone in this tournament and Penn State shouldn’t be a problem. As long as they can keep the high scoring backcourt of D.J Newbill (17.8) and senior leader Tim Frazier (15.5,4.4,5.5) in check, they should be able to take care of business.

This game has the potential to be the one upset of the first round due to those two guys, but I don’t see it happening that way. It may be close but in the end, Minnesota will move on to face off against the second seed Wisconsin Badgers (25-6, 12-6).

#6 Iowa vs. #11 Northwestern – Thursday 9 PM ET

Photo Credit: ESPN.com

Photo Credit: ESPN.com

 

Our final game of the first round features a matchup between a pleasantly surprising Iowa team and an underachieving Northwestern team (13-18, 6-12).

Iowa spent a majority of the regular season in the nation’s top 25 rankings and were even as high up as number ten at one point.

Led by senior Roy Devyn Marble, averaging 17 points per game, the Hawkeyes have been able to put together a formidable record at 20-11, and assure themselves a spot in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006.

Although their best season in eight years, Iowa is coming into the B1G tournament on a big slump. Since having their game postponed at Indiana, the Hawkeyes have lost five of their last six games, including three of those losses coming to unranked opponents.

As a result of this slump, Iowa is entering the tournament unranked.

In order for Northwestern to send the Hawkeyes home early, senior leader Drew Crawford, who is leading the team in scoring (15.5) and rebounding (6.6) will need to have a huge game.

Not only will Crawford have to carry the Wildcats on the offensive end, but he will also draw the toughest of assignment of having to shut down Marble.

Honestly, I don’t see Crawford being able to do both, and I think the Hawkeyes will take this one rather handily. They will move on to play Michigan State (23-8, 12-6), which will be a bit tougher then Iowa’s first round matchup.

Well there you have it, a complete preview of the first round of the B1G tournament with predictions included. Remember the tournament begins Thursday at noon. Don’t miss out on any of the action.

*Thanks to ESPN.com and Basketball-reference.com for all statistics

B1G Awards Announced

After a season of ups and downs for the B1G, filled with outstanding plays and amazing competition, the best players behind all of this entertainment have been awarded.

Player of the Year: Nik Stauskas

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Photo Credit: danbrenner.wordpress.com

 

No surprise here. After a breakout tournament during last year’s March Madness, all the focus was put on the sophomore from Canada to lead them back to the finals. Stauskas started the season the same way as he finished his last.

When the Wolverines lost their star big man Mitch McGary midway through the season, Stauskas completely took over the reigns of this team and led them to their first B1G regular season title outright since 1986. Averaging 17.3 points per game on 50% shooting from the field and 44% from long range, while adding 85% from the charity stripe. Stauskas is the only player among the B1G to rank in the top ten in all of those categories.

As a result of being selected for the B1G player of the year, Stauskas was also the only player to be unanimously selected by both the coaches and the media to the first all- conference team.

Congratulations to Stauskas and well deserved. He was able to carry his team even with the doubters and now they are amongst the favorites to make it back to the title game. If Stauskas decides to call it quits after this season, he is likely to be a early to mid second round pick. Good luck to Stauskas in the tournament and put that B1G player of the year award to good use.

Freshman of the year: Noah Vonleh

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Photo Credit: sportsonearth.com

 

Again, not much of a shock here. No offense to the rest of the freshman that were up for the award, but Vonleh is on a whole other stratosphere. Although severely under used in Tom Crean’s system, Vonleh was able to notch ten double- doubles on the season (most in the B1G), rank third nationally among freshman in rebounds with 9.1 a game and was the top three- point shooter by percentage among freshman with at least 30 attempts. Don’t forget that he’s 6-10.

Vonleh was named B1G freshman of the week seven times this season. In a year loaded with talented freshman, Vonleh assured himself a spot in that elite class and will be a top ten pick in this year’s NBA draft shall he decide to leave school.

Vonleh was the bright spot on a disappointing Hoosier team and this award is well deserved. He has the tremendous talent near and away from the rim and will be a dangerous player in the league for years to come. I’m excited to see him go up against some of the best in the world.

Coach of the year: John Beilein

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Photo Credit: dy.snimg.com

 

Unlike the other two awards, this one wasn’t as easy for the media. This race really came down to two coaches, Michigan head coach John Beilein and Nebraska head coach Tim Miles. Miles was awarded B1G Coach of the year by the coaches, but the media felt differently.

This one really could’ve gone either way as both coaches have an impressive resume to back up their cases. Miles took a relatively young team that wasn’t expected to make much noise this team and has made them into a probable NCAA tournament team. If the Cornhuskers make the tournament it will be the first time for them in 16 years.

Miles has taken transfer Terran Petteway and is in the process of turning him into a star. Petteway averaged just 13 minutes a game his freshman year at Texas Tech and was scoring only 3.1 points a game. After a year of sitting out, Miles gave Petteway a chance and he shined.

Petteway was inserted into the starting lineup and averaged 31.7 minutes per game while leading his team in scoring at 18 points per game. Petteway, along with the improvement of others, is the reason that Nebraska is likely to make the tournament and they have coach Miles to thank for that.

Beilein on the other hand led a team that lost its two best players from a year ago in Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., in addition to a season ending injury to arguably their best player this season in Mitch McGary, and was still able to win the B1G outright.

He was able to give Michigan their first B1G regular season title outright for the first time in 28 years and usually when that happens, you get recognized for it. Beilein took a team that was expected to take a step back this season and has them right back at the top of the nation. No disrespect to Miles, but this one had to go to Beilein. Good luck to coach and the Wolverines in both tournaments and represent the B1G well.

For all conference teams and other awards you can visit the Big Ten Network.

*Thanks to ESPN.com and Basketball-reference.com, as well as btn.com for all statistics

Top 25: B1G Finishes Regular Season With Four Teams

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Photo Credit: maizeandgoblue.com

 

The 2013-2014 Men’s College Basketball Regular Season has officially come to an end, and it is finally time for tournament play. But before we move ahead, we must take one last look at the B1G teams that still remain in the Top 25 at the end of a crazy regular season.

We have seen teams start undefeated to later be dropped from the poll. We have seen teams with high hopes fall flat on their face, and teams with low expectations take the ball and run. This season was one like none other for the B1G, and we still couldn’t help but watch.

Coming into this week, #12 Wisconsin (25-6, 12-6 B1G) held the highest ranking of all the B1G teams at #9. As you can see, the Badgers stumbled a bit.

On Wednesday, Wisconsin was able to stave off a comeback by Purdue (15-15, 5-12) in the second half to hand the Boilermakers a 76-70 loss. Frank Kaminsky led the Badgers with 22 points, including four three- pointers to go along with four boards. Helping out with the scoring load was guard Traevon Jackson who added 14 points on 67% shooting from the floor.

Although a tight win for the Badgers on the scoreboard, Jackson didn’t seem to think they had much of a chance of letting this one get away. “The score was a little misrepresentative of the game,” Jackson said. “I thought we did a good job the entire game keeping control of it.”

Confident as it seemed, the Badgers did not do a good job of keeping control of the score on Sunday when they went to visit Nebraska (19-11, 11-7) for both team’s final game of the regular season.

Led by the double- double from sophomore Terran Petteway (26 pts. & 10 reb.), Nebraska was able to rally in the second half to hand the Badgers a loss heading into the B1G tournament. Adding to the 77-68 home win was guard Shavon Shields who matched Petteway with 26 points on 59% from the field.

A huge win for the Cornhuskers who are currently on the bubble according to Joe Lunardi’s ESPN Bracketology. This win along with a mildly impressive B1G tournament will have Nebraska in the tournament for the first time since 1998.

With their surprise season, Nebraska has earned a bye in the first round of the B1G tournament as the four seed. They will take on the winner of Purdue and Ohio State (23-8, 10-8) on Friday at approximately 2:30 PM ET.

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Photo Credit: BTN.com

 

As for the Badgers, they dropped three spots in the rankings and finish the regular season at #12. Starting the season at #20, I would say Wisconsin had a successful season. They are the two seed in the B1G tournament and will face off against the winner of Minnesota (19-12, 8-10) at Penn State (15-16,16-12) on Friday at 6:30 PM ET.

Now for our B1G regular season champs, the Michigan Wolverines.

Michigan started the season at #7 and finished the regular season just one spot behind at #8. The fact that the Wolverines lost arguably their best player in Mitch McGary for a majority of the season, speaks volumes of what this team is all about.

They ran away with the conference in the final weeks of the regular season, finishing on a five game win streak with the next closest team three games behind them.

On Tuesday, the Wolverines wrapped up their first B1G regular season title outright since 1986 against Illinois (17-13, 6-11). Michigan blew out the Fighting Illini 84-53 on their home floor behind Nik Stauskas’ 24.

In their final game of the regular season, Michigan welcomed Indiana (17-14, 7-11) to town to try and exact revenge against the Hoosiers for last year’s thrilling regular season finale.

Indiana was hot from the start, taking a 42-36 lead into the locker room at half. The second half was a different story. Led by senior forward Jordan Morgan’s 15-point and 10 board double- double and a late three from Stauskas (21), the Wolverines were able to get their revenge.

Glenn Robinson III added 20 in what was potentially his last game in the Crisler Center.

The Wolverines will ride their five game winning streak into the B1G tournament as the one seed. They will take on the winner of the Indiana Illinois game at Noon ET PT on Friday.

Now we move onto the two “disappointing” teams of the B1G this season, Michigan State and Ohio State.

Let’s start with Michigan State.

Some may say that Michigan State completely fell on their face this season, while others may say that they had too many significant injuries to sustain success this season. I say it is a little bit of both.

Before any significant injuries, the Spartans were flying high. They came into the season ranked #2 and with a win over #1 Kentucky, moved up to the number one team in the country by the third week of the season.

They were able to sustain a top five ranking until losing their starting frontcourt heading into the heart of conference play. Without Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson the Spartans went 1-2 with losses to #21 Michigan and Georgetown. No reason for the Spartans to be worried though, they knew it wasn’t going to be easy without their big men.

Once Payne returned, Michigan State continued to slip. They went 3-3 with only one of the frontcourt duo. Since Dawson has returned, they have gone 1-2, making a once top five team, ranked #22 at the end of the regular season.

Integrating players back from injury is tough but I think the Spartans have had their best lineup back for a few weeks now and are ready to make noise in the tournament. They are a team that has been plagued by injuries, but now at full strength have one of the best team with the best coaches at full strength.

Michigan State is ready to play and they are definitely among the teams that you should be considering when filling out your March Madness bracket.

Now for the Buckeyes.

Ohio State is another team that was floating around the top five for the first ten weeks of the season. Once conference play began, the Buckeyes went into hiding like a groundhog that just saw his shadow.

After beginning the season with 15 straight wins, Ohio State dropped their next five of six games to drop from three in the country all the way to out of the rankings. Once realizing their season was going down the tubes, Ohio State got back on track and won their next six of seven with their one loss to #15 Michigan.

The Buckeyes then dropped their next two at Penn State and Indiana, but with a nail biting 69-67 win over Michigan State last night, they finish the regular season at #24. A team that started the season ranked #11 has seen itself drop 13 spots in a down season. Unless they can get their act together in the B1G tournament, it should be an early departure for the Buckeyes this season.

What an entertaining regular season it was, but we are now in tournament play. It is Mid- March and there is no better time of year. Be on the look out for a B1G tournament preview in the coming days.

*Thanks to ESPN.com for all statistics

Michigan Wraps Up B1G

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Photo Credit: ESPN.com

 

After 28 long years, the Michigan Wolverines can finally say that they have won the Big Ten outright.

Coming into this week, Michigan (22-7, 14-3 B1G) needed just one win in two games to assure themselves as the only claimant of the B1G regular season title for 2014. It was assumed that they would jump on the first opportunity as they were set to face off against Illinois (17-13, 6-11) Tuesday night in Illinois.

They did just that.

Michigan was heading into Champaign to take on an Illinois team that had won their last three games while holding their last four opponents to under 50 points in each game. However, on this night, nothing would stand in the Wolverines way.

Behind 16 three- pointers, Michigan demolished Illinois 84-53 to claim the B1G title outright. Nik Stauskas led the way with 24 points including seven threes on nine shots. Helping out Stauskas in this rout was Caris Levert who dropped 15 including two from behind the arc.

Rayvonte Rice led the way for the Illini with 16 while Kendrink Nunn added 14 of his own.

Last night’s contest was never close after the Wolverine’s knocked down 11 of 14 three pointers in the first half. They went into half up 22 and with no slip ups, they were able to keep their foot on the pedal and outscore Illinois by 11 in the second half.

Michigan showed last night why they deserve to be the B1G champs and they earned it. Through the ups and downs, Michigan was able to get it together when it mattered and figure out a way to still win without arguably their best player in Mitch McGary.

Perhaps losing McGary helped motivate the Wolverines, losing only three tough games since McGary was sidelined for the season. Without McGary, Stauskas along with the rest of the Wolverines have stepped up tremendously to make sure they didn’t falter without their big man.

Wrapping up the B1G title, Michigan is now the number one seed in the B1G tournament and will be a number one seed in the NCAA tournament if they can find a way take home the B1G tournament title. Based on what the Wolverines have done this season without McGary, don’t be surprised to see them atop a region come Selection Sunday.

*Thanks to ESPN.com for all statistics

Fat Tuesday Preview: #12 Michigan vs. Illinois

Photo Credit: annarbor.com

Photo Credit: annarbor.com

The last night of a Carnival Season brings a chance for #12 Michigan to clinch it’s first Big Ten outright championship in 28 seasons. Head Coach John Beilein and the Wolverines (21-7, 13-3) travel down to Champaign to take on the Fighting Illini (17-12, 6-10) and try for what hasn’t been done since their ’85-86 season.

Nik Stauskas has been lights out for the Wolverines throughout conference play. The sophomore leads the team in scoring (17.1 PPG) and minutes per game (35.4) and has consistently shown his ability to get open and space the floor. The 6’6″ guard tallied 21 points (5-8 on 3-pointers) on Saturday which lead Michigan to a 10-point win over Minnesota. Stauskas has been a highly favorable candidate in the Big Ten Player of the Year race and he looks to make a final regular season push against the likes of Devyn Marble (Iowa), Terran Petteway (Nebraska), and Gary Harris (MSU).

Like Michigan, Illinois has won three of it’s last four. However, the Fighting Illini’s recent success has come at the expense of dropping 11 of twelve games prior to the win streak. Capturing their first win over a ranked team this season at #18 Michigan State last Saturday, John Groce’s Illinois team looks to defend home court on their Senior Night and keep their momentum going.

The Illini defense, led by Rayvonte Rice’s 6.0 RPG and 1.6 SPG, will have to slow down Michigan’s transition offense and extend on shooters like Stauskas and freshman guard Zak Irvin. Illinois has allowed 62.0 PPG, which ranks 21st nationally (via ESPN.com).

Coverage for tonight’s game starts at 7pm on ESPN/WatchESPN. Michigan is favored -3, with the over/under set at 125.

Top 25: B1G Slips Heading Into Final Week

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Photo Credit: cdn.fansided.com

 

Welp here it is. We have finally made it to the last week of the regular season. What a ride it has been for the B1G.

Coming into this season, big things (no pun intended) were expected of the B1G. Two teams (Michigan (21-7, 13-3 B1G) and Michigan State (22-7, 11-5)) began the year ranked in the top ten, while two more powerhouses (Ohio State (22-8, 9-8) and Wisconsin (24-5, 11-5)) helped round out the top 25 for the Big Ten.

We experienced teams jump out of the gate with historic starts while others crept their way into the top 25. We then saw these teams fall drastically and allow for the B1G title to be up for grabs.

Now as we are a week away from tournament play, we take a look at where the B1G stands in the final week of the regular season and what lies a head for this powerhouse conference.

We start this week’s segment with #12 Michigan. Coming into this season, the Wolverines were ranked #7 in the preseason polls and were expected to remain among the nation’s elite, coming off a trip to the finals last season. With a few bumps in the road, the Wolverines have been able to remain steady in a conference in which there are no easy wins.

After a week in which Michigan was able to go into West Lafayette and take down Purdue (15-14, 5-11) on a buzzer beater by Glenn Robinson III, and then handle Minnesota in Ann Arbor by ten behind Nik Stauskas’ 21, the Wolverines find themselves in control of their own destiny to take home the B1G regular season title.

Michigan is heading into the final week of the regular season with a two game lead over #9 Wisconsin and #22 Michigan State. At worst the Wolverines will have a share of the B1G title but with a win over either Illinois (17-12, 6-10) or Indiana (17-12, 7-9), they will take home their first B1G title outright since 1986.

With an impressive B1G tournament run, we could potentially be looking at a number one seed up in Ann Arbor.

Moving along to Wisconsin. Coming into this season, the Badgers were placed in the rankings with not much expectation, but room to prove themselves. They were pre-season ranked at #20 and were last amongst all ranked B1G teams.

After beginning the season with the best start in school history (16-0) while garnering as high as a #4 ranking, the Badgers dropped five of six once getting into the thick of B1G play and found themselves drop from #4 to out of the rankings.

Since the Badgers first 180, they have done another 180 and have won their last seven in a row, plummeting back into the top ten at #9.

After experiencing the first week of rankings without the B1G, we are back. Wisconsin will take on Purdue and Nebraska (17-11, 9-7) in their final two games before tournament play begins. Barring any setbacks, the Badgers will be a top ten team in March.

Another team that has suffered its fair share of disappointment this season is #22 Michigan State.

Like the Badgers, the Spartans began the season as hot as any team in the country. They took down #1 Kentucky in just their second game of the season and took over the number one ranking until surrendering it to Arizona just a few weeks later after losing to UNC.

After that loss, Michigan State was able to string off 11 straight before dropping six of ten to end up where they are today. The Spartans who were dancing around the top ten just two weeks ago, now find themselves at #22 and are one loss away from being unranked.

With a game at home vs. #24 Iowa and then a regular season finale on the road at Ohio State, the Spartans have their work cut out for them heading into tournament play. Two wins this week is just what the Spartans need to gain some momentum, but if they go the other way it could be the end for the Izzo squad.

Perhaps the most surprising of all B1G teams this season is #24 Iowa. Coming into the year, the Hawkeyes were unranked and were assumed at best to be a team to play spoiler to the conference’s elite.

The Hawkeyes, however, had a different idea in mind.

As early as week four, Iowa found themselves amongst the nation’s top 25 and have been there ever since. Ranging from the #10 ranking all the way to #25, the Hawkeyes have shown that they are a force in the B1G and one to be watched come tournament play.

With two road losses this week to Minnesota and Indiana, Iowa dropped four spots in the rankings. They were able to take care of Purdue at home to keep them in the rankings.

One road game at Michigan State and then a home game vs. Illinois to finish the regular season, the Hawkeyes need both of these games after the week they just had. For some teams, the long grind of the season takes a toll on the players and it seems as if the Hawkeyes might be suffering from this grind.

The final team from the B1G involved in the top 25 is Ohio State, or is it.

After flip-flopping in and out of the rankings for the past few weeks, the Buckeyes once again find themselves on the outside looking in. Dropping two consecutive games to unranked opponents (Penn State (14-15 5-11), Indiana) will get you kicked out of the club.

With one more game against #22 Michigan State, Ohio State will attempt to put together a strong performance to end the season on a good note. The Buckeyes have been a disappointment this season but they are still a team with tremendous talent that can make some noise in tournament play. Watch out for them come next week, IF they can put together an impressive performance against the Spartans.

We have finally made it to the last week of the regular season and conference tournament play starts next week. We have watched some amazing basketball this season and there is even better to come. Although a disappointing season for the B1G, there is no doubt that both tournaments will be must watch television.

*Thanks to ESPN.com and cbssports.com for all statistics

#14 Wisconsin Rallies in Second Half to Fight Off Hoosiers

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Photo Credit: ESPN.com

 

Wisconsin (23-5, 10-5 Big Ten) got their revenge in Madison last night after Indiana (15-12, 5-9) put a knife into their undefeated season just over a month ago.

Through the first half, it seemed as if the Hoosiers win over the Badgers in Assembly Hall was no fluke. Led by Noah Vonleh, Yogi Ferrel and Will Sheehey, the Hoosiers jumped out the gate and took a 29-19 lead into half. The Hoosiers clamping defense and missed shots by the Badgers leading to Wisconsin’s lowest point production in the first half this season.

Going into the locker room, Badger coach Bo Ryan had one message for his team, “make shots”. And that they did.

Coming out hot straight from the locker room, Wisconsin outscored Indiana 9-2 in the first three minutes of the second half to cut the lead to three. It was clear that all of the momentum had shifted the Badgers way.

They continued to apply the pressure to the Hoosiers en route to a 22-5 run to put this one to rest. The Badgers, who shot just 26% from the field in the first half including 10% from three, took coach Ryan’s message to heart and it showed.

The Badgers did the complete opposite of what they did in the first half, shooting 62% from the field and nailing six of eleven threes.

Sam Dekker continued his hot play, netting 16 on 71% shooting from the floor including seven boards and three blocks.

The rest of the Badgers starting five all finished in double digits. A team effort from Wisconsin to say the least. The final score, 69-58.

Wisconsin hopes to take this momentum on the road as they travel to Penn State (13-14, 4-10) to take on the Nittany Lions on Sunday.

For the Hoosiers, another blown double- digit lead and their hopes at an NCAA tournament are in the rear view mirror. Unless they can put together a miracle in the B1G tournament, it’s time to say hello to the NIT.

Indiana will welcome Iowa (19-8, 8-6) to Bloomington on Thursday for a make up game from last Tuesday’s incident at Assembly Hall. Iowa is coming off a tough six- point loss last night at Minnesota.

A home game against a ranked opponent is just what the Hoosiers need.

*Thanks to ESPN.com for all statistics