Wednesday, February 8th
Wisconsin Badgers 79, Penn State Nittany Lions 74 (OT)
MaximumSam: These teams need desperately need wins and they played like it. The last five minutes of regulation were a yo yo of lead changes and big shots. Unfortunately for the Nits, they couldn’t get much going in OT and they dropped to the 11 hole in the conference and really need to get a good stretch going to get back on the bubble.
MaximumSam: Don’t look now, but Michigan is on a three game winning streak and has actually looked like a good team. They blistered the nets against the Huskers, shooting an EFG of almost 70%. They still need some more wins to get back in the tourney conversation, but it isn’t as hopeless as it looked earlier.
Thursday, February 9th
#46 Iowa Hawkeyes (15-8, 7-5) at #6 Purdue Boilermakers (22-2, 11-2), 6 pm, ESPN2
BoilerUp89: If you like offense this is a game for you as it features two of the top 5 offenses in the country. It’s also a rematch of last year’s Big Ten tournament final which Iowa won. There are some matchup reasons to think this could be a close one even if Purdue is at home and coming off a rare loss.
As is tradition under Fran, Iowa doesn’t play a lot of defense, but they do press on occasion and pressure guards. Purdue likes to play slow, but that isn’t the way to typically punish teams that overextend their defensive pressure. Iowa also doesn’t foul very often which could be a problem for the Boilermakers. Purdue often gets their margin of victory at the free throw line.
One other interesting note as we look at Iowa’s conference record so far this season. Iowa has beaten Indiana, Rutgers, Michigan, Maryland, Rutgers, Northwestern, and Illinois. What do those teams have in common? Entering the week, those were all teams tied with or above Iowa in the Big Ten standings (Maryland is now a half game behind due to their loss to Michigan State). Iowa’s losses came against Wisconsin, Nebraska, Penn State, Ohio State, and Michigan State? What do those teams have in common? Those are all teams below Iowa in the standings. Weird little statistical oddity for over halfway thru the conference schedule.
#53 Northwestern Wildcats (16-7, 7-5) at #45 Ohio State Buckeyes (11-12, 3-9), 7 pm, FS1
BoilerUp89: Ohio State hasn’t officially begun playing out the stretch as if they somehow won 7 of their last 8 games they would probably still be a tournament team. That’s not particularly likely and I don’t know that the team is in a good head space with Holtmann benching 2023 NBA first round draft pick Brice Sensabaugh from the starting lineup, but the season isn’t over for the Buckeyes yet.
For Northwestern this is a must have road victory as after this one the schedule gets brutal. The next five games after this are Purdue, Indiana, Iowa, @Illinois, and @Maryland. The Wildcats really don’t want to enter that stretch having to pick up at least two wins if they can avoid it.