THE CURRENT STANDINGS.
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IT'S TOO EARLY YET TO SAY IOWA HAS TO WIN THE REST OF THEIR GAMES. But, that window is closing. Iowa has two losses in league play and still has to travel to Bloomington, Champaign, Minneapolis and East Lansing. We know it's tough to win on the road, especially in the Big Ten. Still, at three to four losses, Iowa could be in the hunt. Let's look at the biggest games this week in the Big Ten that have the biggest impact on Iowa's championship hunt (we'll skip today's game since we've covered that already).
#21 MICHIGAN at #3 MICHIGAN STATE TONIGHT 6:00 PM CT (ESPN). (Preview) The Wolverines are on fire having won their last eight games in a row. They catch a break heading into their toughest road test of the season as MSU's Adreian Payne has been ruled out to play today. Also, Michigan State lost forward Branden Dawson for 4-5 weeks due to a broken hand. Sparty has kept their conference record perfect with Payne missing the last two weeks but the loss of Dawson's 10.2 points a game might be too much to overcome. Still, without the two starters, Michigan State is the Vegas favorite tonight by 4.5 points. The winner of tonight's game will have sole possession of first place in the Big Ten. Michigan has Purdue on Thursday (8:00 pm CT, ESPN) and play at Indiana next Sunday.
#9 WISCONSIN at PURDUE TODAY 4:00 PM CT (BTN). Wisconsin is on a slide having lost three in a row. They have a chance to get back on the winning track this week with today's game and when Wednesday night they host Northwestern. The Badgers sit at three losses in conference play but still have one of the easiest paths the rest of the way. The Badgers will travel to Ann Arbor and Iowa City but only play Michigan State and Ohio State once. Both of those games are at home. If the Badgers right the ship today, they are still very much in the hunt.
MINNESOTA at NEBRASKA SUNDAY 5:00 PM CT (BTN). Richard Pitino Jr. has something cooking with his Gopher team this year. The Gophers surprised everyone with their win over Wisconsin Wednesday night. Two of their toughest conference road games are out of the way (losses at Michigan State and Iowa) and now they head to Lincoln for an easier test. The Gophers get the week to rest after their trip to Nebraska and host Northwestern next Saturday. Minnesota still has trips to Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan on the schedule and it's back loaded with at Ohio State, Iowa and at Michigan making up the last three games. At three losses, the Gophers are in play but their remaining schedule does them no favors. If they can get hot, they have a chance.
#3 MICHIGAN STATE at #10 IOWA TUESDAY 6:00 PM CT (ESPN). Sparty will follow tonight's game with Michigan with a road test at Carver-Hawkeye against our Hawks. We'll have plenty of more about this game early in the week.
PENN STATE at #17 OHIO STATE WEDNESDAY 6:00 PM CT (BTN). At four conference losses, every game is now a must-win for the Buckeyes. After having lost four in a row, they got by Illinois last Thursday night. They'll host Penn State Wednesday and then have back-to-back road games at Wisconsin and Iowa. After Iowa, it's not a bad schedule. They'll host Michigan and Michigan State at home. They'll have only three road games remaining: at Illinois, at Penn State and at Indiana. Like the Gophers, their chances are slim but you can't rule the Buckeyes out just yet.
OTHER BIG TEN GAMES THIS WEEK:
- Illinois at Indiana, Sunday 2:00 PM CCT (Big Ten Network)
- Northwestern at Wisconsin Wednesday 8:00 PM CT (Big Ten Network)
- Indiana at Nebraska Thursday 7:15 PM CT (Big Ten Network)
- Purdue at Michigan Thursday 8:00 PM CT (ESPN)