We’re into the final quarter of the Big Ten season and Purdue is right where we want them to be. The Boilermakers currently sit in first place on their own with four to play, and if they win the last four, they will clinch the 25th Big Ten men’s basketball championship in school.
then why are we worried?
Despite winning eight of the last nine games, Purdue hasn’t looked good in the last three. michigan absolutely blew our doors off in ann arbor. maryland is earmarked for Wednesday’s games in the big ten tournament, but came perilously close to surprising us at mackey. last night purdue led by 14 with 2:59 remaining when eric hunter jr. He hit a big three, but Northwestern came very close to cutting the lead to three when Boo Buie missed a wide open 3-pointer with 16 seconds remaining. That’s an eternity for it to be a one-possession game, especially after the Ohio State game a few weeks ago.
yes, purdue was in control for the most part all night, but you could see the same defensive struggles we’ve had all season. the northwest just didn’t look good. combined with five missed free throws in the final minute (two of them were the front of one-and-one, so actually seven feet missed) made for a shaky finish. if that game lasts another minute…
however there are a lot of results on the books and like i said purdue is in first place. I might even have this thing mostly wrapped up if it weren’t for the Rum Harper Jr. jerk and inability to get a rebound in indiana. those two things create an extremely close conference race where six teams are within a game in the loss column. If Purdue has an advantage, it’s that he has already played 16 of his 20 games. Every other contender has at least one extra game, and Ohio State has three. makes for an exciting ending.
purdue boilermakers – 23-4, 12-4 – purdue is locked in the ncaa tournament. he now has eight quad 1 wins and could get two more before heading to indianapolis for the big ten tournament. he’s playing for a very high seed and I stand by my stance that a big ten regular season championship, especially if he wins these last four, will equate to no. 1 seed in March. At a minimum, Purdue is very likely to have at least a 4-seed clincher and would therefore be the favorite to reach the Sweet 16. However, he will have to win a 1-seed. There are no easy games left. we can’t trade the trip to wisconsin for a trip to nebraska. Purdue plays three of his fellow contenders in the next three games, then has to close out with a big rivalry game at home. The Kettles will likely have to go 3-1 to stand a chance, which makes Sunday’s home game against Red Hot Rutgers a huge one. Rutgers has now won four in a row against Purdue, the longest active streak of any B1G opponent. If Purdue can hold serve, I’ll feel a lot better splitting away games and beating IU. remaining hours: rutgers, in the state of michigan, in wisconsin, indiana
wisconsin badgers – 20-5, 11-4 – the badgers nearly tripped up at indiana, but johnny davis came out and earned it. that was a missed opportunity for the rest of the league. Wisconsin has the luxury of games against Minnesota and Nebraska down the stretch and they get Michigan and Purdue in Madison. however, the kohl center has not been his usual strength. providence, michigan state and rutgers have entered and won. Wisconsin also has to go to Rutgers before hosting Purdue in what could be a huge two-game stretch. If Purdue’s only loss in a hypothetical 3-1 comes to Madison, we’ll need someone else to beat the Badgers. i’ll feel a lot better about winning the big ten if we can beat rutgers and michigan state before going to madison. remaining hours: michigan, minnesota, rutgers, purdue, nebraska.
illinois battling illinois – 18-7, 11-4 – purdue has already gotten the most out of illinois with a season sweep. The Illinois did not start a critical four-game winning streak well by being dominated at Rutgers last night. They have a similar stretch to Purdue in that they have several league contenders to come. Only one of their last five games is against a team not contending for the tournament, and that’s at home against Penn State. The next two are decisive for the Illinois, and they need to lose a game to Purdue to get a piece in a hypothetical 3-1 finish. remaining hours: in the state of michigan, state of ohio, in the state of michigan, penn state, iowa
ohio state buckeyes – 16-6, 9-4 – covid hasn’t done the buckeyes any favors, as starting Saturday they have to play seven games in 16 days. yes, they’re tied for first in the loss column, but that’s a brutal question. if they go 7-0, they will absolutely have won a major ten title. although it is possible. Only two are against other contenders, though three more are against potential NCAA teams. they also get a big lead with five of them at home, and are the only undefeated home team in the conference. don’t count them remaining hours: iowa, indiana, in illinois, in maryland, nebraska, state of michigan, michigan.
rutgers scarlet knights – 16-9, 10-5 – rutgers has lost games to penn state, northwest, minnesota and maryland. those are four of the last five teams in the league. Had they taken care of business in such games, they would be an NCAA lock and would be well up front in the Big Ten. after last night they’ve beaten four consecutive ranked teams and now we’re right in their crosshairs. they’re right on the bubble due to some previous bad losses, but they’re also strangely in good shape to win the big ten if they win their last five. they just need losses from the state of ohio and illinois to control their own path. I don’t want to hear from them on Sunday, and we need Mackey to be Mackey. remaining hours: in purdue, in michigan, wisconsin, in indiana, penn state
Michigan State Spartans – 18-7, 9-5 – The ultimate contender, Michigan State has soared with three losses in their last four. they also have a busier schedule with six games in 16 days to go. half of those games are against other contenders as well. Given that they already have five losses, Purdue fans should really ask them to beat Illinois and Ohio State. I see michigan state as a more likely win than wisconsin for purdue, but by no means does that mean it’s an automatic win. remaining hours: illinois, in iowa, purdue, in michigan, in the state of ohio, maryland
conference spoilers and possible ncaa teams
iowa hawkeyes – 17-7, 7-6 – iowa and michigan have seven games each as ohio state, but start against each other tonight in iowa city. The Hawkeyes lost their title shot with a double loss at Penn State, but against the top six teams they are 0-5. They still have a role to play with games against Michigan State, Ohio State and Illinois. i would really like them to beat ohio state and illinois. remaining hours: michigan, in the state of ohio, state of michigan, in nebraska, northwest, in michigan, in illinois
michigan wolverines – 13-10, 7-6 – michigan is the jekyll and hyde team in this year’s conference. They were supposed to be a contender, but now they’re a huge spoiler when turned on. they are also fighting for their tournament life with just a 2-7 quad 1 record. their net is good at 37 and if they could string together a few wins to break into the top 30 that brings our home win over them to a win from quad 1. we want them to get hot and stay hot. if they make their way into the tournament to come at the expense of our fellow contenders, then that’s a very good thing. they won’t win the league, but they will have a big influence on who will with five games remaining against the six contenders. remaining hours: in iowa, in wisconsin, rutgers, illinois, state of michigan, iowa, in state of ohio
indiana hoosiers – 16-9, 7-8 – since they beat purdue and look like a certain ncaa team, the hoosiers have lost 5 of 7 , only beating penn state and maryland. they get three of the contenders to finish, so they have plenty of chances to secure their spot, but this is a bubble team right now. If they lose to Ohio State, Rutgers and Purdue, they can’t finish better than 9-11 in the league. since no team with a losing record in conference play deserves a blanket offer that’s dangerous territory. Their non-conference slate is also giving them a big bag of nothing, as their best win ever came over Notre Dame at Crossroads. Only home wins over Purdue and Ohio State are at Tier 1. They can’t lose the remaining games against Maryland and Minnesota. remaining hours: in the state of ohio, maryland, in minnesota, rutgers, in purdue
Potential nits spoilers/teams
northwestern wildcats – 12-12, 5-10 – after last night, northwestern now has a staggering 11 losses by 8 points or fewer. Purdue’s win at Mackey’s is the only time they have truly been beaten. This is a tough team, but they have no games left against contenders and only one against an NCAA team. we want them to finish strong against a weak slate so that our win last night remains level 1. remaining schedule: in minnesota, nebraska, in penn state, in iowa, minnesota.
penn state nittany lions – 10-12, 5-9 – losing three non-conference games due to a covid break in the schedule will possibly prevent penn state the nit, as they could use that amount of profit right now. they have a small factor in the league race with two games remaining against the contenders, but most of their games are in “we are contractually obligated to televise this game” territory. they sit at 85 at the net, so a 10 point boost makes our win over them a level 1 win. remaining time: minnesota, in maryland, northwest, nebraska, in illinois , at rutgers
Minnesota Golden Gophers – 12-11, 3-11 – Can Minnesota mount an undefeated non-conference season to a winning overall record and a nit offer? they have six games left and need to win three of them. They could really use their canceled game against Alcorn State, a very likely win, just to add to the total. The biggest game we want to see is whether Barn can pull off an upset against Wisconsin next week. remaining hours: in penn state, northwest, wisconsin, indiana, in maryland, in northwest
touch the rope
maryland terrapins – 11-14, 3-11 – purdue averted disaster with trevion williams’ blocked shot and mason gillis’ rebound on sunday. that would have been a horrible loss. maryland has been competitive, but has not been able to finish the job. They’ve played a part with wins over Rutgers (at Rutgers, no less) and Illinois, but have mostly been a close but no-cigar team with close losses to Wisconsin, Michigan State and Purdue (4 points total). tomorrow night in nebraska could set a record for “least watched big ten basketball game.” remaining hours: in nebraska, penn state, in indiana, ohio state, minnesota, in michigan state
nebraska cornhuskers – 7-18, 1-13 – barring an absolutely shocking win on the final day in madison on march 6, nebraska has no real say in nothing more. Forward. they’re earmarked for Wednesday’s big ten tournament and a third consecutive last-place finish. Purdue has won as many conference games this year as Nebraska has in the past four seasons combined. fred hoiberg is 6-47 in the league. remaining hours: maryland, in the northwest, iowa, in penn state, in ohio state, in wisconsin