This was one of the weirdest seasons in Big Ten history as it seemed everybody except Purdue and Minnesota was tied for second going into the last day of the regular season. That day gave us more surprises as you had Bebraska going to Iowa and pulling a massive upset, and you had a classic finish between Indiana and Michigan. To me, this tournament looks like it’s wide open, with Purdue as the obvious favorite, but even though they are clear favorites I could see them losing before they even get to the final. Mediocrity exists in the Big Ten and should make for a highly competitive tournament.
Although I was skeptical that Minnesota would win another game this year, a Rutgers collapse in the last minute gave them a taste of victory. Wisconsin was also up against the Golden Gophers in their last regular season match, but the Gophers lost late. The Gophers did show improvement as the season went on.
Ohio State was victorious this week, and overall it was a good week for the struggling Buckeyes. Ohio State defeated Maryland earlier in the week and then played Michigan State hard on the Spartans’ Senior Day. The Buckeyes will have to win five games this week to advance to the tournament and that will not happen.
Wisconsin remains in the hunt for an NCAA Tournament bid, but overall this was not a good week for the Badgers. Wisconsin came close to upsetting Purdue during the week but fell short late and had to avoid a massive disaster in the final minutes against Minnesota in their finale. Wisconsin will need a strong showing at the Big Ten Tournament to find its way into the NCAA Tournament.
Will Rutgers make the NCAA Tournament? To end the regular season, the Scarlet Knights are limping across the finish line with two more losses at Minnesota and at home against Northwestern. Rutgers lost six of their last eight games. They must win at least two games in this week’s Big Ten Tournament to be optimistic about their chances of getting into March.
With a 1-1 week, Nebraska continued its strong finish to the regular season. This included a loss to Michigan State and a victory against Iowa in the final. To finish the regular season, the Cornhuskers won six of eight games. They are expected to be dangerous at the Big Ten Tournament next Wednesday.
Maryland needed just one win this week to lock up a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament, but their road struggles continued, and they came up short. The Terps lost at Ohio State and Penn State this past week and will look to regain momentum at next week’s Big Ten Tournament before heading to the NCAA Tournament. If the Big Ten tournament was played at Maryland, they would win it, but it’s not so they will be gone quickly.
Michigan was close to clinching a spot in the NCAA Tournament, but it failed to make enough plays down to the final stretch to win two crucial overtime games. On Thursday, Michigan lost in double overtime against Illinois and on Sunday it fell to Indiana in overtime. To make it to the NCAA Tournament, the Wolverines must run a strong Big Ten Tournament.
Northwestern took to the road Sunday night to secure a double-bye at the Big Ten Tournament with a win against Rutgers. The Wildcats have secured the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten Tournament for several weeks. No matter what happens this coming week in Chicago, they are safely in the 68-team field for the NCAA tournament.
Penn State’s chances of making the NCAA Tournament appeared dead following last week’s collapse against Rutgers. However, this week, dramatic wins over Northwestern and Maryland have given the Nittany Lions new life. A win or two next week at the Big Ten Tournament should guarantee they’ll be dancing in March.
After a dominant road win over Indiana earlier in the week, Iowa was in a solid position to earn a double bye in Big Ten Tournament. They will be disappointed with their performance against Nebraska on Sunday. Despite losing to Nebraska on Sunday, the Hawkeyes remain in the NCAA Tournament field and will be dangerous this week in the open Big Ten Tournament.
Illinois is still a team that’s either thriving or struggling, and this week was no exception. To beat Michigan earlier in the week, the Fighting Illini had to go into overtime, and then on Sunday, they lost in a massive comeback attempt at Purdue. As we enter the Big Ten Tournament, Illinois is difficult to read but has the potential to win the entire thing if they can string together strong performances.
The Spartans could have argued for the top spot if Michigan State had closed out stronger against Michigan and not suffered a devastating loss to Iowa last week. To cap off a strong year, Michigan State won at Nebraska and at home against Ohio State.
The blowout loss to Iowa at home drops the Hoosiers from the number one spot. Indiana bounced back with a huge win over Michigan to give them a double bye in the Big Ten Tournament. The Hoosiers are a hard-nosed team with a penchant for winning close games this season. Coach Mike Woodson has done a great job with a team decimated by injuries this season.
Purdue has been our number-one team for almost the whole year, so it is fitting that they finish as No.1 After a one-week drop. The Boilermakers won by three games in the league and are the best team in the Big Ten power rankings.
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