Big Ten Standings
Last week's game of the week
Maryland 68, Michigan State 66 (2OT)
Winning at the Breslin is a pretty dang big deal; MSU had been 58-12 at home in Big Ten contests dating back to the 2006-2007 season before Maryland came to East Lansing and took home a thrilling double-OT victory, cementing the Terps as the best of the rest behind Wisconsin in the conference. Be very glad Iowa doesn't have to go to Maryland this year—and be very afraid of Dez Wells and company coming to Iowa City.
Joe Lunardi's Bracketology released this morning places just five Big Ten teams in the Big Dance with Indiana and Minnesota in the first few teams out. Michigan State's in some serious peril as well. Your seeds, subject as always to massive change within the next two months, are below.
(8) Ohio State
(11) Michigan State (play-in)
I don't expect Indiana to be out of the discussion by March—the wins over Butler and SMU look good, and Assembly Hall is going to be a brutal visit for a lot of good B1G teams—but if the Hoosiers' defense doesn't improve, their tourney status probably won't either.
Iowa 71, Ohio State 65
Iowa waltzed into Columbus, brought a 12-point lead into halftime, then hung onto the lead for the first (and still biggest) shocker of the young Big Ten season. It was only Iowa's second B1G road opener victory in over a decade and reframed the Hawkeyes as a legitimate contender for the third seed in the conference. There's a lot of season still left, but that's a mighty nice W.
Rutgers 50, Penn State 46
We can officially stop entertaining the notion of Penn State as even a fringe bubble team, despite the sexy 12-1 record the Nittany Lions brought into the Big Ten. PSU lost to Wisconsin by 17 earlier in the week—fine, lots of teams will be losing to Wisconsin by double-digits this year—then couldn't even crack 50 against the worst team in the conference in an embarrassing road loss. Enjoy the CBI, Penn State.
Michigan State: vs. Indiana, at Iowa
Any time there's a significant discrepancy between a team's KenPom rating and its spot in Joe Lunardi's bracket this early in the season, I'm much more inclined to believe the projected seeding will correct toward the KenPom rating than vice versa. Here, MSU is still Pomeroy's No. 22 squad... and in Lunardi's play-in game against Syracuse as an 11-seed. You can't really blame Lunardi; MSU's sitting at 9-5 with losses against every decent team it's played, but as Branden Dawson rounds back into form and the Spartans get shots at the Big Ten's better teams, expect the wins to come. MSU has two grand opportunities to bolster its resume this week, and while the Indiana game looks like a surer thing than the annual nightmare trip to Iowa, either is plausibly winnable. Of course, neither game is a sure thing, so if Sparty goes 0-2 that'll be just about it for MSU's tourney hopes, but Tom Izzo isn't the kind of coach that lets his team slump.
Less Important Things
Wisconsin: vs. Purdue, at Rutgers
No tests for the Badgers this week. Frank Kaminsky should shoot everything with his eyes closed and see what happens. Wisconsin will still win by 15+.
Movin' on up!
The only Big Ten team with a special green "up" arrow in the ESPN Bracketology is... Iowa! Picking up another big road victory will do that, as Iowa dispatched Ohio State in Columbus and now holds arguably the best one-two pair of road wins in the conference (Maryland's victories at Oklahoma State and Michigan State also look mighty nice).
Movin' on out!
Opening a Big Ten slate with two road games is rough, and losing at this Maryland squad is understandable, but thanks to that loss and a much-rougher L at Purdue to start the Big Ten season, Minnesota now sits on Joe Lunardi's "Next Four Out" with only a neutral-court victory over Georgia in November to prop up the tourney resume. Minnesota's B1G schedule softens considerably after Tuesday's matchup with Ohio State (more on that in a second), but if the Gophers don't have the big wins they need to get into the tourney by mid-February, it might not be happening; the schedule gets brutal in the last four weeks of the regular season.
This week's game of the week
Tuesday, 8 p.m., ESPN: Ohio State at Minnesota
I'm still a pretty firm believer in the Buckeyes, but their tourney status is slipping, and for good reason: their schedule needs big wins. Last Saturday's 77-61 victory over Illinois was OSU's best win of the year thus far (not good), and it A) came in Columbus and B) was a 1-point Illinois lead at the break. D'Angelo Russell is still growing into his role as the Buckeyes' alpha dog, and as he goes so goes OSU.