A closer look at the race for the Big Ten title

IUSMSith0016

We’re getting down to crunch time in the race for the 2013 regular season Big Ten championship with just four games to go in conference play for Indiana, Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin and five for Michigan.

Here’s a look at the road each team faces the rest of the way and an outlook on their chances to capture the league crown:

INDIANA (12-2)

· Remaining games: at Minnesota (Feb. 26), Iowa (March 2), Ohio State (March 5), at Michigan (March 10)

· Outlook: The Hoosiers took control of their own destiny with Tuesday’s win in East Lansing. Indiana now has a one-game lead over the Spartans in the loss column and an easier schedule the rest of the way. If Michigan State drops one of its four remaining games and Indiana wins three of its four remaining contests, it would clinch its first title since 2002 and first outright title since 1993.

· Projected record: 15-3

MICHIGAN STATE (11-3)

· Remaining games: at Ohio State (Feb. 24), at Michigan (March 2), Wisconsin (March 7), Northwestern (March 10)

· Outlook: Not only did Michigan State lose to Indiana on Tuesday, it likely fumbled away its chance to win the regular season title. The Spartans have the toughest road remaining with three games against the league’s top five teams. Two of those games are on the road against teams Michigan State has already beaten, including Michigan, which was embarrassed in East Lansing and will be seeking revenge.

· Projected record: 13-5

WISCONSIN (10-4)

· Remaining games: Nebraska (Feb. 26), Purdue (March 2), at Michigan State (March 7), at Penn State (March 10)

· Outlook: The Badgers have a favorable schedule the rest of the way with the exception of a game at the Breslin Center. If, and it’s a big if, Wisconsin can win out, it would still have a chance to share the title with two Indiana losses.

· Projected record: 13-5

MICHIGAN (9-4)

· Remaining games: Illinois (Feb. 24), at Penn State (Feb. 27), Michigan State (March 2), at Purdue (March 6), Indiana (March 10)

· Outlook: Michigan, like Wisconsin, would likely need to win out to share the title thanks to a recent stretch that resulted in three losses in four games. Winning out would mean the Wolverines flawlessly navigate a schedule that includes hosting white-hot Illinois on Sunday, beating Michigan State and Indiana at home and also winning at Purdue. As easy as the game in West Lafayette may appear to be on paper, the Wolverines are just 3-4 in Big Ten road games.

· Projected record: 13-5

OHIO STATE (9-5)

· Remaining games: Michigan State (Feb. 24), at Northwestern (Feb. 28), at Indiana (March 5), Illinois (March 10)

· Outlook: The Buckeyes are technically still in the race, but they would need a miracle to get a piece of the title. Even if Ohio State wins out, it would be officially eliminated with two more wins by Indiana.

· Projected record: 11-7

All projected records via KenPom.com.

  • mrjonessodaandme

    If the Hoosiers win the crown outright, and especially if its by 2 games, Tom Crean should be the unanimous CoY. Winning the hardest conference in the nation in quite possibly one of its finest years, that has to count for something.

    Edit: Conference CoY. Didn’t specify since it was an article on the Big Ten.

  • slojoe

    3 losses gets an outright title and 4 losses gets a share of the title at best.

  • IUFan

    Do tiebreakers mean nothing? Winning 3 out of 4 should guarantee us a title since we have the head to head on MSU right? Is it still considered shared?

  • http://www.insidethehall.com/ Alex Bozich

    Ties in the regular season standings result in a shared title. There are only tiebreakers for Big Ten Tournament seeding.

  • chiv86

    I would agree but I would be weary of Miami’s coach Jim Larranaga. He’s taken that team from nothing to #2 ranking. It will all depend on how they perform outside the ACC so that’s what it will come down to.

  • mrjonessodaandme

    Conference. I’ve heard many people say Bo Ryan and Izzo. That would be a joke.

  • http://twitter.com/IUinNap Caleb Moore

    Hoosiers just need to keep this thing buttoned down and keep their eyes focused on each game. Nothing has been won yet, and there is still time to hurt yourself pretty badly by not keeping the focus. Still think Indiana could lose 2 of 4 here. But I also think MSU, UW, and UM could all easily have 5 losses each when this is all said and done.

  • http://twitter.com/IUinNap Caleb Moore

    Hoosiers just need to keep this thing buttoned down and keep their eyes focused on each game. Nothing has been won yet, and there is still time to hurt yourself pretty badly by not keeping the focus. Still think Indiana could lose 2 of 4 here. But I also think MSU, UW, and UM could all easily have 5 losses each when this is all said and done.

  • http://twitter.com/IUinNap Caleb Moore

    Yeah most people I have seen have been saying it’s def Larranaga unless Miami collapses. Then Crean enters the mix probably as the favorite followed by guys like Beilien, good old Jim Crews, Izzo, Coach K, etc.

  • HoosierTrav

    That’s ridiculous. If we are tied with Sparty for the league championship and we have to share the damn thing, I’ll be very P’d off.

  • Bleeding Crimson

    What a great problem to have…we all knew that IU was going to be really good this year but they have now catapult themselves as an elite team to be a force to reacon with. Like Izzo and Fife said…there is no answer for Vic. If, Zeller’s stays focused, Hulls hits threes, Yogi dishes and controls the flow and most importantly our X factor has finally gotten serious about his game. We win. I love this team. Not to mention our bench.

  • Bleeding Crimson

    Alex, it has been discussed but not as a topic. Our last game with Mich St set several records:
    All 4 players 1000 point scorers finished in double figures.
    Oladipo and Zeller jumped into the 1000 point scoring threshold, one soph and jr.
    They became part of the 1st team in school’s history to feature 4 1000pts scorers in the same game…which includes a team that went undefeated.
    I’m pretty sure it also put CTC over the .500 threshold as well?
    Pretty awesome facts. I’m I missing anything.

    Question: Is there in other record(s) that could be broken this year?

  • Adam

    With an unbalanced conference schedule, having a shared regular season title like last year is the fairest way to do things.

  • WhatsUpKnight

    i keep hearing people talking about parity this year in the ncaa, and that there are no elite teams. of course, iu’s recent dominance has caused that to subside somewhat, but still seems to be the overwhelmingly popular opinion among sports talk show hosts.

    here’s what i keep thinking in response…if the timing worked out a little better, if this year’s team were to face last year’s ‘dominant’ pUKe team in the tournament, i’d feel pretty darn good about iu’s chances. especially considering they gave pUKe all they could handle last year.

  • HoosierTrav

    If there is a 3 way tie…I agree. If its us and sparty, there is no way that argument works. We beat them twice. Unbalanced schedule is irrelevant. It’s bs if it comes down to it. Definitly won’t be fair.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gregory.spera.3 Gregory Spera

    I know we have two away games left, but with the way Minnesota and Michigan have been playing lately (terrible), there is no reason IU shouldn’t win out. They have convinced me that they are indeed the best team in the country. No let up now. And I can’t believe I’m going to say this too, after the way I’ve bitched all season, but I could see Crean getting B1G CoY.

  • jbarrott72

    Crean has taken us from nothing to #1…if we win the BIG10 outright, then he deserves the COY nationally. Best Conference in country, period.

  • calbert40

    I don’t think CTC will get it, because we were expected to be really good this year. We all see the job he’s done with the team, but to outside eyes, it looks like he hasn’t done anything special.

    I’d think that Crews would get my vote. His situation is very similar to Ariens / Pagano, and I think that resonates with voters too. If they win the A-10 outright, and make a run in the dance, I can see him edging out Larranaga.

    Now, that said, I think it was a CRIME that CTC didn’t win it last season. Shameful!

  • calbert40

    I see a lot of similarities in the Minnesota game to the Illinois game: they are playing lousy, backs against the wall, we are coming off a big win, #1 national ranking, a longer than normal layoff, etc.

    That is what scares me about Minnesota. Nothing would look better on their resume than beating #1. We better be ready for that one! I think if we win that one, we are set for at least a share of the title.

  • calbert40

    Watch out for Wisconsin! If they can beat MSU in Breslin (big IF), they should win out. That puts them at 14-4, and a W against us in our only meeting.

    I think any of those teams are capable of winning out, but the reality is that none of them probably will. I think MSU really shot their chances by losing to us. Their remaining schedule is BRUTAL! Also, UM has an opportunity to win 4 straight going into the season finale against us. That would put them at 13-4. If we lose to Minny, we probably roll into Ann Arbor at 14-3, so if we lose, we tie.

    We can’t slip up. We *should* win our two home games, but we need at least one of the roadies to sew this thing up.

    Tuesday’s game @ Minnesota is huge. We need that one.

  • plane1972

    Adam is right. The unbalanced schedule makes it impossible to compare apples to apples. Sure we have two wins against Sparty head-to-head, but they had to play the other four top teams in standings twice. We did not have to go to Madison, they only got Northwestern and PSU once each. To be fair, you have to go by raw W-L record in conference, regardless of head-to-head results.

  • plane1972

    I didn’t realize that unbalanced schedule meant teams would not play the same total number of conference games. IU plays 18, MSU only plays 17. When did that start happening?

  • And_One

    I was thinking the same thing, but you have to think that what happened at Illinois won’t happen at Minnesota BECAUSE of what happened at Illinois. No cake walk, but they’ll get this one.

  • http://twitter.com/erikholm Erik Holm

    That’d be a hell of a game. Last years uk team was loaded & we beat them once. Keep in mind, there was an NBA lockout looming that kept Lamb & Jones in school instead of going to the draft. Throw in the future NBA #1 & #2 picks…not only were they loaded, they had some experience in Lamb & Jones (unlike their ‘loaded’ inexperienced team this year, yikes). Imagine next year if Zeller & Oladipo stayed & we added the #1 & #2 pick in the 2014 draft. That’s basically what they had, minus a bench. I didn’t even mention Teague & 4 year college/NBA player Darius Miller. Last years uk team lucked out because of an NBA lockout…damnit!

  • Garble62

    That’s been my thought about this year. We gave that UK team all they wanted, and this year’s IU team is a marked improvement over last year’s. Seems like a lot of people are mistaking number of NBA first-rounders with being a “dominant” college team.

  • Beard

    The conference tournament matters not; the conference standings are nearly set in place. The only thing left is 6 wins in the NCAA tournament to firmly re-establish IU back on the pedestal of college basketball. Its great to be back!!!

  • SUNY_RIT_IU_Grad

    CWat is a star on this team; not the star but a star that deserves a lot of credit and praise. He gets it from me that’s for sure…

  • SUNY_RIT_IU_Grad

    CWat is a star on this team; not the star but a star that deserves a lot of credit and praise. He gets it from me that’s for sure…

  • WhatsUpKnight

    oh man, just the thought of sharing the title with wiscy makes me nauseous. i think iu’s in good shape though. just don’t see them losing more than 1.

  • SUNY_RIT_IU_Grad

    Our team relaxed against the Illini; they marked it down as a W before the win was in the bag. Then, the Illini pounced on our Hoosiers and put them away before they could get out of their funk! Our attitude late in the game is what cost us the win. That is what we need to protect against in the barn.

  • IUSTL

    quick what if question. I think IU is highly likely going to win at MN and the two remainig home games. with MSUsupcoming road schedule and WI going to MSU. I can see IU having at minumum a two game lead in the standings and therefore the conference title already booked before the game in Ann Arbor. The question is do you play the regulars their normal minutes or just use the game as a tune up and give the starters a rest.

  • CreamandCrimson

    I am never in favor of “turning the switch off” during a season. I would play them their regular minutes, go for the win and make absolutely sure there is no way on Earth you can be denied the #1 seed in the Midwest. Mainly, though, I am never in favor of resting guys in games that count on your record. I hope the coaching staff has the luxury of making that decision though!

  • Mooks

    My prediction for the rest of the season

    @Minny W 80-64: Minnesota’s team has fallen in terms of spirit. Very hard for them to get a W against a hot IU squad coming off an heavily gratifying win in Breslin.

    vs. Iowa W 94-77: Iowa has some good pieces added to their team. Unfortunately, they do not have the defense to contain IU. Plus Iowa will not be able to hang in the hall.

    vs. OSU W 70-55: OSU had a really bad stretch of games. However they just came off of a much need win against Minny, blowing them out in the 2nd half. OSU is going to want some revenge for IU beating them on their own court. This can be an interesting game.

    @Michigan W 72-66: Michigan has also had a tough road like OSU. Most B1G teams are figuring out U or M’s playing style and it really has shown that people have been watching films. I mean seriously, UM struggled against Penn State in their own home and got smashed at the Breslin center. Michigan is in a vulnerable position and will fight to stay in the race. Honestly, IU has more momentum at this point. Keep Stauskas, Hardaway, and Robinson away from the paint, and U or M will have alot of trouble scoring. With the exception of Trey Burke who always finds a way. Plus we have already proved we can overcome bad calls given to homecourt advantage (MSU).

    Record: 16-2 (Conference

    B1G Tourney

    Game 1: Purdue W 88-57: Honestly, Purdue is going to get an 8 seed and beat whoever is 9. Purdue again will not have enough horse power to contain a highly explosive offensive squad like IU.

    Game 2: Wisconsin W 55-50: Coach Crean is too good of a coach and he team is too good to loose to the same squad twice. If anything, our losses have only been by 5 points or less which is extremely impressive. I have a feeling, this is the game where Crean finally gets the W against Whisky.

    Championship: MSU W 68-60: At this point, we know that if Appling, Payne, and Travis Trice are unable to get shots, get open, or lead their team…MSU will have a very hard time finding a rhythm.

    NCAA

    Game 1: W. Gonna be like a preaseason cupcake. Nothing speacial

    Game 2: W. This game will be a little more interesting, but not like VCU last year. Where probably gonna play a good mid-major team like Wichita State. Endurance will be a key factor for the other team.

    Sweet 16: W. We are projected to be in the same bracket as Butler. Count on it folks, this game will be like Last years #S4 IU vs. #S1 Kentucky. Again, CTC is too good of a coach to loose to Butler again, revenge is on.

    Elite Eight: W. Kansas is a #2 Seed. I definitely think Kansas will be the next team. Withey vs. Zeller may be the best center matchup for the entire tournament. Put Oladipo on McClemore and Watford on BJ Young, Kansas will be shaking their heads the entire game.

    Final Four: W. Gonzaga is a #1 Seed below us in the bracket. This team is legit. However they have less experience playing top tier teams. The B1G conference schedule is going to help us in this win. Plus, I don’t think Olynik is strong or quick enough to contain Zeller, I could be wrong.

    Championship: ??? MSU/Florida is a #2 Seed on the East/West Bracket. Alot of people thought Duke would make it but, Duke does not have enough frontcourt to challenge B1G teams. IMHO on these teams is gonna be in the finals. Miami plays in a weaker ACC this year, And will get beaten eventually by a better team like VCU, Illinois, Kansas St, or OSU. This game is hard to pin-point and it is up to God himself to determine the outcome. Either way, I will be extrmeley pleased with the performance of our players and CTC this year. All I ask is that the bench becomes better in the next couple of seasons, but injuries do happen and thats part of the game.

  • thrawnjan

    They all play 18 games.
    Just for the sake of argument: The more unbalanced the schedules are, the more the head-to-head record should matter instead of the overall record.

  • SCHoosier

    MN is in a down time with nobody taking a leadership role on the floor/team. However..having #1 Indiana coming in is all Tubby will need to get one more great effort out of a damn athletic group of players who have been a disappointment this season by anyone’s standards. And then there are all those animal sounds in the barn):

  • InTheMtns

    I agree that having #1 coming into the Barn is all Tubby will need to inspire his team. And as Calbert40 pointed out, they really need this win for their resume.

    Part of the reason they’ve been so down lately is because Williams has been dealing with a shoulder injury for the last four games. He has
    trouble even raising his left arm – so that has definitely affected them. I don’t know what his status will be by the time of our game. If we can get Dre Hollins in foul trouble like Iowa did, that will help because
    Minny struggles to score without him. But as And One pointed out, preciously because of what happened at Illinois, Indiana will be prepared for anything a desperate Minny can throw at them, including, of course, the animal sounds. ;-)
    .

  • WatchingYogi_atYogis

    Not many opportunities to get a chance to play in a hostile environment like Ann Arbor against a talented team in Michigan and see what you have as a team. No way that anyone considers taking a game off.

  • InTheMtns

    Another fact to add to your list – according to @IndianaMBB on Twitter: “the win over #4 Michigan State was the highest AP ranked road win in school history since winning at #6 Minnesota in 1953-54.” Highest in school history, that’s a big accomplishment at a storied program like IU.

  • dbmcubs21

    If it’s up to God himself I feel pretty good about our chances, have you read Crean’s tweets the last 3 years?

  • MisterSlippery

    I can’t wait for IU in Ann Arbor. UM is wayyyy better than they’vr played lately and IU is so strong right now. It should be an awesome game.

  • Kenneth234

    I really doubt that we lose any of the last four. This team is far superior to the last four, and have already learned the lesson of losing focus in the Illinois debacle. I think we win @ Minnesota comfortably as well as home against Iowa, I feel sorry for Ohio State on Senior Night, and Michigan will need a super human effort from the officials and Burke to beat us even in Ann Arbor.

  • marcusgresham

    Hey Alex, either you forgot to mention it or I missed. What are Purdue’s chances?

  • Bleeding Crimson

    Was not aware of the that…Great info. Just one more reason I love this site…all of the old time history folks on here as myself….not that your old Inthemtns…do we love the mtns or live there?

  • Kenneth234

    Just wait until the Big Ten adds Rutgers and Maryland. The schedules may get incredibly unbalanced which coincidentally is the biggest reason why I hate the expansion trend beyond the geographical conflicts and travel concerns. Just wait, if they add another team, they may have to consider splitting the conference and not having the traditional conference rivals play each other, unless they meet in the tournament.

  • Kenneth234

    Win the conference tourney, and they will get it. They may have to win a few in the tourney just to make the NIT.

  • InTheMtns

    Both – love ‘em and live in ‘em. And I am old, BC, but that’s OK because getting older beats the alternative. I’m not complaining. I can say though that I don’t remember that ’53-54 game – just read about it. I can also say that I am really enjoying this year’s team! Go Hoosiers!

  • plane1972

    Hard to dispute your argument, thrawnjan. However, I did do a quick calculation before the weekend games and the W-L record of MSU’s in-conference opponents was slightly higher than ours.

  • kaponya13

    Way too early too tell ,but the thing to remember to keep things in perspective is until someone beats us ,not only are teams facing the conference leader ,but also the #1 team in the Nation..Beating IU is instant cure for your season ..Look at what the 3 teams(Butler,Wisky and Illinois) who IU played down to did after they clipped us .Yes we played “down” to their level for long enough within each game to lose .Nobody is better than IU when measured by how good they look when playing their best ball.Indiana has not peaked yet,and when they do ouch for the opposition..UNTIL they hit that notch reading into scenarios can be a set up for disappointment ..Teams might be too politically correct to admit on the record in interviews ,but the reality is opposing players coaches and fans have for these 4 schools have IU circled on the calendar.Exciting times !

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