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UPDATED 2/23/14 5:28 PM
SO, IOWA PLAYS THREE DIFFICULT GAMES THIS WEEK. The Big Ten decided Iowa and Indiana will make up last week's game on Thursday, February 27th. Iowa hosts Wisconsin tomorrow. The winner of tomorrow's game stays alive in the conference title hunt. Then, Iowa heads to Minnesota on Tuesday. The Gophers have hit a rough patch but The Barn is still a tough place to play. Iowa has to win them all. A very tough task.
WE'LL GO MORE INTO IOWA'S GAMES LATER. Let's focus on the other games that impact the Big Ten Conference race the most. Last week, we discussed it being a four horse race. Some believed it was already down to just Michigan and Michigan State but then they both lost last weekend and Iowa and Wisconsin got some life. We'll know which of Iowa and Wisconsin still have a chance Saturday afternoon.
AND THEN WE TURN OUR ATTENTION TO #13 MICHIGAN STATE AT #20 MICHIGAN (Sunday 11:00 AM CT CBS). Michigan won the first battle at East Lansing between these two teams in January. Both teams were red hot then; neither is now. Both Michigan and Michigan State are playing .500 basketball in February. MSU's loss against Michigan started their stretch of .500 ball. MSU rebounded to beat Iowa on the road and then suffered losses to Georgetown, Wisconsin and Nebraska. Michigan has wins over Nebraska and Ohio State this month and a blowout loss at Iowa and losses to Indiana and Wisconsin.
Michigan State still isn't healthy but they're getting close. As Hawk fans, we need to root for Sparty to win. Michigan State still hosts Iowa March 6th and has a visit to Columbus to close out the season. Michigan's schedule is less difficult. The Wolverines head to Purdue, host Minnesota, visit Illinois and host Indiana in a rematch of their loss in Bloomington.
INDIANA at #16 WISCONSIN TUESDAY 8:00 PM CT ESPN. A win over Iowa would be the fifth consecutive win for the Badgers. They appear to be heating up at the right time. After the road trip to Carver-Hawkeye their schedule gets easier. They host Indiana here, then head to Penn State and host Purdue. The finale, at Nebraska on March 9th, looks much more difficult than when the Big Ten season began. The Badgers and Cornhuskers could play for a first day bye in the Big Ten Tournament.
#20 MICHIGAN at PURDUE WEDNESDAY 6:00 PM CT BTN. Last week, I called Michigan State at Purdue a possible trap game. It wasn't. Purdue stinks. If Michigan beats Michigan State they'll hold the tie breaker and be the lead horse in the Big Ten race. Expect a Michigan rout, win or lose against Sparty. Which, in this wacky Big Ten season, means Purdue by 10.
- MINNESOTA at #24 OHIO STATE 5:00 PM CT SATURDAY BTN
- INDIANA at NORTHWESTERN 7:15 PM CT SATURDAY BTN
- PURDUE at NEBRASKA 3:15 PM CT SUNDAY BTN
- NEBRASKA at ILLINOIS 8:00 CT WEDNESDAY BTN
- #24 OHIO STATE at PENN STATE 6:00 PM CT THURSDAY ESPN2