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LOOKING AT THE BIG TEN RACES WITH TWO WEEKS TO GO

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How do the Big Ten standings look now?

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

We did this a week ago, so it seemed like a good idea to update things after a week's worth of results.  This week served as a stark reminder that the win probabilities listed by each game are just that -- a probability.  They are not a guarantee.  Iowa had an 86% probability of beating Penn State when we did this a week ago.  Maryland had a 90% (!) probability of beating Minnesota last night.  (They also had an 85% probability of beating Wisconsin; real bad week for the Terps.)  That said, the KenPom-favored team went 10-4 last week (according to my math) and three of those losses were considerable upsets (especially Penn State over Iowa and Minnesota over Maryland), so they're still pretty good from a predictive standpoint.

GAME IOWA (11-3) INDIANA (11-3) MARYLAND (10-4)
GAME 15 Wisconsin (WIN 80%) Purdue (WIN 64%) Michigan (WIN 78%)
GAME 16 at Ohio State (WIN 65%) at Illinois (WIN 72%) at Purdue (WIN 33%)
GAME 17 Indiana (WIN 73%) at Iowa (WIN 27%) Illinois (WIN 91%)
GAME 18 at Michigan (WIN 59%) Maryland (WIN 65%) at Indiana (WIN 35%)


Losses aplenty for the teams atop the Big Ten last week -- Iowa fell to Penn State, Indiana fell to Michigan State, and (as noted) Maryland fell to Wisconsin *and* Minnesota.  Iowa has the weekend off, which gives Indiana a chance to pull ahead in the title race slightly if they can get past their intra-state showdown with Purdue.  Iowa's either going to be all alone in first place or second place when they return to action against Wisconsin next Wednesday.  Maryland's shock loss to Minnesota again puts Iowa firmly in control of their own destiny in the Big Ten title race -- win out and they'll be sole Big Ten champs.

GAME PURDUE (9-5) MICHIGAN STATE (9-5)
GAME 15 at Indiana (WIN 36%) at Ohio State (WIN 71%)
GAME 16 Maryland (WIN 67%) Penn State (WIN 95%)
GAME 17 at Nebraska (WIN 64%) at Rutgers (WIN 96%)
GAME 18 Wisconsin (WIN 75%) Ohio State (WIN 90%)


The race for the #4 seed at the Big Ten Tournament is a wild one at the moment, although Michigan State looks like the clear favorite to earn it -- they gave great odds in all of their remaining games. They even have an outside shot at claiming a share of the Big Ten title if Iowa, Indiana, and Maryland keep sliding.  That said, Purdue has the head-to-head tiebreaker over Michigan State, so Sparty needs the Boilermakers to slip up somewhere in the last four games. Purdue has a pretty tough-looking schedule to wrap up, though -- the next two games are big, and that game at Nebraska looks pretty trap-y.  If Wisconsin is still on the bubble, that season finale could be a big test, too.

GAME MICHIGAN (9-5) WISCONSIN (8-5) OHIO STATE (9-5)
GAME 14 at Ohio State (LOSS) Illinois (WIN 87%) Michigan (WIN)
GAME 15 at Maryland (WIN 22%) at Iowa (WIN 20%) at Nebraska (WIN 41%)
GAME 16 Northwestern (WIN 76%) Michigan (WIN 71%) Michigan State (WIN 29%)
GAME 17 at Wisconsin (WIN 29%) at Minnesota (WIN 73%) Iowa (WIN 35%)
GAME 18 Iowa (WIN 41%) at Purdue (WIN 25%) at Michigan State (WIN 10%)


Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio State are all either tied with Purdue and Michigan State or a touch behind them, but their schedules are really unfavorable down the stretch -- which is a problem since all three teams are on varying levels of the NCAA Tournament bubble.  Ohio State isn't going to be favored in any of their remaining games, although if they play as well as they did against Michigan, they could easily grab a few more wins.  Wisconsin's 7-game winning streak came to an end in East Lansing last night and their remaining slate is a mix of land mines (road games at Iowa and Purdue) and winnable games, although that game at Minnesota no longer looks so gimme-ish. The probabilities have Michigan going 1-3 the rest of the way, but the return of Caris LeVert could definitely change things for them.

GAME NEBRASKA (6-8) NORTHWESTERN (5-9) PENN STATE (4-9) ILLINOIS (4-9)
GAME 14 at Indiana (LOSS) at Purdue (LOSS) at Rutgers (WIN 68%) at Wisconsin (WIN 13%)
GAME 15 Ohio State (WIN 59%) at Michigan (WIN 24%) Nebraska (WIN 52%) Indiana (WIN 28%)
GAME 16 at Penn State (WIN 48%) Rutgers (WIN 93%) at Michigan State (WIN 5%) Minnesota (WIN 75%)
GAME 17 Purdue (WIN 36%) at Penn State (WIN 48%) Northwestern (WIN 52%) at Maryland (WIN 9%)
GAME 18 at Northwestern (WIN 34%) Nebraska (WIN 66%) Illinois (WIN 63%) at Penn State (WIN 37%)


The race to avoid playing on Wednesday at the Big Ten Tournament is also pretty interesting.  Penn State looked doomed to be playing in those games a few weeks ago, but back-to-back home wins over Indiana and Iowa have given them a real chance at slipping into the Top 10 in the Big Ten.  Those games against Rutgers and Illinois look very winnable and the key to them getting out of the bottom four may be getting a split against Nebraska and Northwestern.  Do that, beat Rutgers and Illinois, and they'll be 7-11, which would probably be good enough for 9th or 10th in the Big Ten.  Illinois is only nominally in this race -- they can go ahead and punch their tickets to a Wednesday game.  Northwestern has at least one more win in the bag (Rutgers), but their ability to avoid the bottom four will probably come down to those games with Penn State and Nebraska.

GAME MINNESOTA (1-13) RUTGERS (0-13)
GAME 14 Maryland (WIN) Penn State (WIN 32%)
GAME 15 Rutgers (WIN 85%) at Minnesota (WIN 15%)
GAME 16 at Illinois (WIN 25%) at Northwestern (WIN 7%)
GAME 17 Wisconsin (WIN 27%) Michigan State (WIN 4%)
GAME 18 at Rutgers (WIN 61%) Minnesota (WIN 39%)


And finally we've got the race to the bottom, although Rutgers re-established clear frontrunner status in that race after Minnesota did the unthinkable and got a win last night.  That win also spoiled our shot at an 0-14 versus 0-14 game with Rutgers next week.  But that win did help Iowa, so I can't be too mad at the Gophers for denying us a chance to see something historic.