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Posts Tagged ‘Wisconsin’

Comparing the Big Ten’s returning production from 2015: Defense

Friday, July 29th, 2016


Don Brown Michigan

Yesterday we outlined how each team’s returning offensive production compares throughout the Big Ten. Today, it’s time to take a look at the defensive side of the ball and tie it all together.

A year ago, Ohio State returned the most defensive production with 74 percent of its 2014 tackles, tackles for loss, sacks, and takeaways back. It paid off as the Buckeyes finished third in the Big Ten in total defense and second in scoring defense. However, the team right behind them with 71 percent returning — Illinois– finished just ninth in total defense and eighth in scoring defense. The top two defenses in the conference, Wisconsin and Michigan, began the year with just 61 percent (seventh-most) and 63 percent (fifth-most) of their 2014 production returning.

Aside from Illinois, the teams with the most returning defensive production fared better than those with the least. The seven worst defenses in the conference were the same seven that returned the least from 2014.

Interestingly, the opposite was true the previous season. Maryland, Indiana, and Rutgers returned the most production from 2013, but produced three of the four worst defenses in the conference. Conversely, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Ohio State returned the lease production and turned out four of the top six defenses. So what does that tell us? (Shrug).

Let’s take a look at what this season looks like.

Defense

Returning defense
Team Percent Returning 2015 Total Defense Rating
Purdue 79% 110
Indiana 77% 120
Nebraska 69% 64
Michigan State 65% 26
Wisconsin 64% 2
Northwestern 63% 13
Iowa 63% 22
Minnesota 60% 24
Penn State 59% 14
Rutgers 59% 111
Michigan 54% 4
Maryland 52% 90
Ohio State 46% 9
Illinois 40% 30

Entering this season, two of the three worst defenses in the Big Ten a year ago return the most production by far. Purdue, which ranked 110th nationally in total defense and 111th in scoring defense, returns 79 percent including a whopping 88 percent of its tackles for loss and 83 percent of its sacks. Indiana, which ranked 120th in total defense and 116th in scoring defense, returns 77 percent including 80 percent of its total tackles and 19 of 22 takeaways. However, the Hoosiers do have to replace defensive end Nick Mangieri, who led the team in tackles for loss and sacks.

Nobody expects Purdue or Indiana to factor into the Big Ten race for obvious reasons, but the next few teams with the most returning defensive production certainly will. Nebraska returns 69 percent of its defense which ranked 64th nationally last season. Five of the top six tacklers return as do all but three takeaways. But the Cornhuskers ranked ahead of only Michigan in takeaways.

Michigan State (65 percent), Wisconsin (64 percent), Iowa (63 percent), and Northwestern (63 percent) were all ranked among the top 26 defenses in the country and return two-thirds of that production. Wisconsin has to replace linebacker Joe Schobert, who ranked second in the Big Ten with 19.5 tackles for loss and fourth with 9.5 sacks, and safety Tanner McEvoy, who ranked second in the conference with five interceptions and also added two fumble recoveries. Michigan State has to replace defensive end Shilique Calhoun’s 10.5 sacks and 15 TFLs but returns four of its top five tacklers. Iowa lost tackles for loss leader, defensive end Nate Meier, and three of its top four tacklers but returns all but three of its 27 takeaways — a number that ranked second only to MSU’s 28 a year ago. Northwestern returns leading tackler, linebacker Anthony Walker, who led the Big Ten in tackles for loss, but will have to make up for the loss of defensive end Deonte Gibson, its sack leader, and the next three leaders in TFLs.

Minnesota, Penn State, and Rutgers all return the same amount of production at 60, 59, and 59 percent, respectively, but one of these is not like the others. While Penn State’s defense ranked 14th nationally and Minnesota’s 24th, Rutgers’ was near the bottom at 111th. Minnesota brings back 70 percent of its tackles for loss, but lost two of the top three tacklers. Penn State has work cut out in replacing end Carl Nassib and tackle Austin Johnson, who combined for 34.5 tackles for loss and 22 sacks. Rutgers, meanwhile, returns all but three of its sacks, though the Scarlet Knights ranked dead last in that category last season.

Michigan brings back 54 percent of its fourth-ranked defense but has to replace its top three tacklers, linebackers Joe Bolden and Desmond Morgan and safety Jarrod Wilson. But replacing tackles is much easier than replacing impact plays, and the Wolverines bring back three of their top four tackles for loss leaders and two of their top three sack leaders from 2015.

Maryland returns just over half of its 90th-ranked defense but lost linebacker Yannick Ngakoue and tackle Quinton Jefferson who were the Terps’ top two leaders in tackles for loss and sacks.

Ohio State, which returns the least offensive production, returns the second least on the defensive side thanks to six NFL Draft picks from that side alone. But like on offense, the cupboard is far from bare. Defensive end Tyquan Lewis led the team with eight sacks and was second only to Joey Bosa in tackles for loss. Linebacker Raekwon McMillan is a tackling machine who ranked fourth in the Big Ten last season. And while end Sam Hubbard only recorded 28 total tackles, 8 of them were behind the line of scrimmage, including 6.5 sacks.

Finally, Illinois returns just 40 percent of its 2015 defensive production, the least of any team in the Big Ten since at least 2014 when we started tracking. The Illini were a very respectable 30th a year ago, but lost the conference’s leading tackler, safety Clayton Fejedelem, as well as their next two leading tacklers. If there’s a silver lining it’s that 71 percent of their sacks are back, most notably linebacker Dawuane Smoot.

So what does it all mean? The following chart plots each team by both offensive and defensive production.

2015to2016 Returning Production Chart

If the trend of the past two seasons continues there are two teams in ideal position to win the Big Ten, plotting very similarly to Ohio State in 2014 and Michigan State in 2015. One is Penn State and the other is Michigan. And while both have room for optimism heading into the season Michigan is better positioned for two reasons: the two biggest weaknesses — quarterback and linebacker — have been addressed.

First, Jim Harbaugh did wonders for Jake Rudock in a short time a year ago and now he gets the luxury of having a quarterback — whether it be John O’Korn or Wilton Speight — who already has more than a year of his tutelage to build on. Looking at Harbaugh’s track record coaching quarterbacks, from Rich Gannon to Josh Johnson to Andrew Luck to Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick and most recently Rudock, it’s clear that he could essentially take a tackling dummy and turn it into a serviceable quarterback.

The second issue has been addressed by bringing in Don Brown, a.k.a. Dr. Blitz, to run the defense. He promptly moved the dynamic Jabrill Peppers to a hybrid linebacker position that perfectly complements Brown’s scheme and Michigan’s defensive strengths — the line and the secondary.

The biggest roadblock to Michigan’s title hopes is its schedule that takes the Wolverines to East Lansing, Iowa City, and Columbus in a span of five weeks. The good news is that those all fall in the latter half of the season, after Michigan works out any kinks it may have at the start of the season.

Does this mean Michigan will win the Big Ten? Absolutely not. Since we just started tracking returning production in 2014, it’s a very small sample size to draw any definitive conclusions from. And just because Michigan falls right within the returning production sweet spot that produced Big Ten champions each of the last two seasons it doesn’t guarantee anything. After all, Rutgers and Minnesota were within that sweet spot last season as well. But it should at least provide a little extra dose of optimism for a Michigan team that already enters the season with plenty of it.

Comparing the Big Ten’s returning production from 2015: Offense

Thursday, July 28th, 2016


MSU 2015(Joe Robbins, Getty Images)

With less than six weeks remaining until college football returns the Michigan hype train is in full force entering Jim Harbaugh’s second season at the helm. The main questions the Wolverines face are at the quarterback position — Harbaugh’s specialty — and linebacker where do-it-all burgeoning superstar Jabrill Peppers will step in. But how does Michigan compare to the rest of the Big Ten in terms of who’s coming back?

It’s time to take our annual look at how each team in the Big Ten compares in terms of returning production. Of course, this is just one metric to use to predict each team’s success in the upcoming season, not the be all end all, but we’ll take a look at how it panned out the past two years as well and see if we can make any predictions on outcomes this fall.

The first year we tracked this, 2014, eventual champion Ohio State returned 60 percent of both its offense and its defense from the previous season. Last season, Big Ten champion Michigan State returned 54 percent of its offense and 67 percent of its defense, or just over 60 percent of its total returning production from 2014.

The teams with the most returning production both years — Maryland in 2014 with 90 percent and Ohio State in 2015 with 81 percent — both failed to reach the Big Ten championship game. Maryland finished third in the East with a 7-6 overall record and a 4-4 conference record, while Ohio State finished second in the East with a 12-1, 7-1 record.

Will this season follow the trend of the past two? Let’s take a look at this year’s returning offensive production.

Offense

Returning offense
Team Percent Returning 2015 Total Offense Ranking
Nebraska 88% 34
Minnesota 85% 103
Northwestern 82% 115
Rutgers 79% 84
Maryland 79% 87
Purdue 72% 95
Illinois 71% 88
Iowa 71% 72
Penn State 54% 105
Michigan 53% 69
Indiana 45% 14
Wisconsin 43% 79
Michigan State 38% 73
Ohio State 28% 41
Returning scoring offense
Team Percent Returning 2015 Scoring Offense Ranking
Nebraska 86% 43
Minnesota 85% 106
Maryland 78% 95
Northwestern 75% 114
Iowa 75% 54
Illinois 73% 103
Rutgers 72% 78
Purdue 69% 92
Wisconsin 60% 81
Penn State 54% 101
Michigan 54% 50
Michigan State 48% 60
Indiana 40% 24
Ohio State 32% 28

Nebraska is this year’s Maryland and Ohio State with the most returning production in the conference. That returning production falls in between the Terrapins and Buckeyes in terms of the previous season’s total offense rating (34th versus Ohio State’s 9th and Maryland’s 75th) and scoring offense rating (43rd versus OSU’s 5th and Maryland’s 84th). Both of those offensive units actually went backwards the following season even with so much returning production. Maryland slid 34 spots to 109th in total offense, while Ohio State slid seven spots to 41st. It is important to note that the Maryland comparison is apples to oranges since the Terps moved from the Atlantic Coast Conference to the Big Ten between the 2013 and 2014 seasons.

The good news for Nebraska is that the offense returns quarterback Tommy Armstrong, who ranked second in the Big Ten in passing last season. In 2014, Maryland had to replace quarterback CJ Brown. Last season Ohio State returned J.T. Barrett, but Urban Meyer and offensive coordinator Tim Beck played musical chairs with he and Cardale Jones, which held the offense back from what could have been much more potent.

Minnesota returns the second most offensive production (85 percent) and scoring (85 percent) but ranked near the bottom nationally in both categories a year ago at 103rd and 106th, respectively. Aside from leading receiver K.J. Maye, everyone of importance is back for the Gophers offense. However, the offensive line returns just one player who started all 13 games, right tackle Jonah Pirsig. That means 115 career starts are gone and only a combined 37 return.

The next four teams with the most returning production are all pretty much in the same both. Northwestern (82/75 percent), Rutgers (79/72), Maryland (79/78), Purdue (72/69), and Illinois (71/73) return a lot of offense, but all five ranked between 84th and 115th nationally in total offense in 2015. All five return their primary quarterback, so that’s good news, but they all have too big a hill to climb to make a serious challenge for the Big Ten title.

Iowa returns 71 percent of its offense that ranked 72nd last season and 75 percent of its 54th-ranked scoring offense. Quarterback CJ Beathard figures to be one of the best in a down year at the position in the Big Ten, but the Hawkeyes have to replace leading rusher Jordan Canzeri and two of their top three receivers. Like Minnesota, Iowa has major losses to replace along the line with All-Big Ten performers, right guard Jordan Walsh and center Austin Blythe, taking 86 career starts with them to the NFL.

Penn State and Michigan are neck-and-neck in terms of returning offensive production this season. Penn State returns 54 percent of its offense and 54 percent of its scoring, while Michigan returns 54 and 53 percent, respectively. The big difference, however, is what that production accomplished in 2015. Michigan’s offense ranked 69th nationally and 50th in scoring, while Penn State’s ranked 105th and 101st. Both have to replace their starting quarterbacks, but all bets should be on Harbaugh to produce a better one than James Franklin. Michigan returns 72 percent of its rushing and 92 percent of its receiving, while Penn State returns 78 and 85.

Indiana and Wisconsin both return approximately the same (45 percent and 43 percent of offense respectively). Offense has never really been an issue for the Hoosiers under Kevin Wilson and there’s no reason to think this year will be much different. Defense is another story. More on that later. Wisconsin has to replace quarterback Joel Stave, more than 50 percent of its receiving production, and second-team All-Big Ten left tackle Tyler Marz.

Michigan State and Ohio State round out the returning offensive production. The Spartans bring back 38 percent of the nation’s 73rd-best offensive unit and 48 percent of the 60th-best scoring offense. They have to replace quarterback Connor Cook, 65 percent of their receiving production, and center Jack Allen and left tackle Jack Conklin’s combined 85 career starts. The three-headed rushing attack of L.J. Scott, Gerald Holmes, and Madre London will have to carry the load until the passing game finds its stride.

Ohio State’s mass exodus for the NFL leaves just 28 percent of its offense and 32 percent of its scoring behind. The good news for Meyer is that he still has Barrett behind center without Jones to muddle things and the Big Ten media picked Barrett as the preseason offensive player of the year. The other good news is that Meyer’s recruiting dominance over the past few seasons means he has plenty of talent waiting in the wings. Just how well it will step up is the question. Only 132 rushing yards return from the running back position (Barrett is the returning leader with 727) and only 19 percent of last season’s receiving yards return.

Stay tuned for our defensive breakdown and conclusions coming soon.

Big Ten Tournament bracket set, Michigan to face Northwestern

Sunday, March 6th, 2016


Big Ten Tournament

The Big Ten Tournament gets under way on Wednesday with Minnesota against Illinois and Rutgers against Nebraska. The top two seeds, Indiana and Michigan State, get double byes into the quarterfinals and won’t play until Friday.

Michigan (20-11, 10-8) will face ninth-seed Northwestern (20-11, 8-10) in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament at 12pm on Thursday in Indianapolis. A win would pit the Wolverines against top-seed Indiana at noon on Friday.

Michigan won the season’s only matchup against Northwestern, 72-63, on Feb. 24. The Wolverines made just four three-pointers in that game, but outscored the Wildcats 20-5 at the free throw line. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman led Michigan with 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting, while Derrick Walton added 16 and Aubrey Dawkins 11.

Northwestern, meanwhile, has won three straight since that loss, beating Rutgers, Penn State, and Nebraska by an average of 20 points. In the first meeting, Michigan had no answer for Alex Olah, who scored 19 points, while Tre Demps and Aaron Falzon each scored 14.

Big Ten Tournament
First Four First Round Quarterfinals Semifinals Championship Champion
Wed, Mar. 9 Thu, Mar. 10 Fri, Mar. 11 Sat, Mar. 12 Sun, Mar. 13
9. Northwestern 70
12pm BTN 8. Michigan 72
8. Michigan 72 12pm ESPN 8. Michigan
1. Indiana 69
13. Minnesota 52
4:30pm ESPN2 12. Illinois 68 1pm CBS
12. Illinois 85 2:25 BTN 12. Illinois 58
5. Iowa 66 2:25pm ESPN 4. Purdue
4. Purdue 89
10. Penn State 75  3pm CBS
6:30pm ESPN2 7. Ohio State 54
7. Ohio State 79 6:30pm BTN 2. Michigan State
2. Michigan State 81
14. Rutgers 72 3:30pm CBS
7pm BTN 11. Nebraska 70
11. Nebraska 89 8:55pm ESPN2 11. Nebraska 86
6. Wisconsin 58 8:55pm BTN 3. Maryland
3. Maryland 97

Big Ten hoops power rankings: March 1

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016


Power Rankings_header

Michigan State held onto the top spot this week, while Iowa plummeted to sixth following their third straight loss. Indiana moved up to second after clinching at least a share of the Big Ten title, while Wisconsin continued its ascension up to third this week.

Michigan remained eighth and finds itself on paper thin ice as far as NCAA Tournament hopes are concerned. The Wolverines may need a win over Iowa and at least one in the Big Ten Tournament to earn an at-large bid.

Penn State stayed in the ninth spot, while Northwestern jumped one and Illinois jumped two to 10th and 11th, respectively. Nebraska, Minnesota, and Rutgers fill out the cellar.

“Another week, another missed opportunity for Michigan,” said Derick. “Now it’ll take a win over a desperate Iowa team on Senior Night to limp into the Big Dance.”

1. Michigan State (24-5, 11-5) – Even – 1.0 (Last week: 1.7)
MichiganStateLogo
Last Week: Beat Ohio State 81-62, Beat Penn State 88-57
This Week: Wednesday at Rutgers, Saturday vs Ohio State
MSU 3-1-16
RPI: 14 | Best win: Nov. 17 vs #4 Kansas (79-73) | Worst loss: Jan. 20 vs Nebraska (70-71)
2. Indiana (23-6, 13-3) – Up 1 – 2.7 (Last week: 3.7)
IU logo
Last Week: Beat Illinois 74-47
This Week: Tuesday at #16 Iowa, Sunday vs #14 Maryland
Indiana 3-1-16
RPI: 27 | Best win: Feb. 11 vs #4 Iowa (85-78) | Worst loss: Nov. 23 vs Wake Forest (78-82)
3. Wisconsin (19-10, 11-5) – Up 2 – 3.0 (Last week: 4.7)
Wisconsin logo
Last Week: Beat #8 Iowa 67-59, Beat Michigan 58-57
This Week: Wednesday at Minnesota, Sunday at #15 Purdue
Wisconsin 3-1-16
RPI: 33 | Best win: Feb. 13 at #2 Maryland (70-57) | Worst loss: Nov. 13 vs Western Illinois (67-69)
4. Maryland (23-6, 11-5) – Even – 4.0 (Last week 4.3)
maryland-logo
Last Week: Lost at #20 Purdue 79-83
This Week: Thursday vs Illinois, Sunday at #12 Indiana
Maryland 3-1-16
RPI: 10 | Best win: Jan. 28 vs #3 Iowa (74-68) | Worst loss: Feb. 18 at Minnesota (63-68)
5. Purdue (22-7, 10-6) – Up 1 – 4.7 (Last week: 6.3)
Purdue logo
Last Week: Beat #10 Maryland 83-79
This Week: Tuesday at Nebraska, Sunday vs Wisconsin
Purdue 3-1-16
RPI: 18 | Best win: Feb. 9 vs #8 Michigan State (82-81 OT) | Worst loss: Jan. 10 at Illinois (70-84)
6. Iowa (20-8, 11-5) – Down 4 – 5.7 (Last week: 2.0)
Iowa logo
Last Week: Lost to Wisconsin 59-67, Lost at Ohio State 64-68
This Week: Tuesday vs #12 Indiana, Saturday at Michigan
Iowa 3-1-16
RPI: 22 | Best win: Jan. 14 at #4 Michigan State (76-59) | Worst loss: Feb. 17 at Penn State (75-79)
7. Ohio State (19-11, 11-6) – Even – 7.3 (Last week: 7.0)
Ohio State logo new
Last Week: Lost to #6 Michigan State 62-81, Beat #8 Iowa 68-64
This Week: Saturday at #2 Michigan State
Ohio State 3-1-16
RPI: 74 | Best win: Dec. 19 vs #4 Kentucky (74-67) | Worst loss: Jan. 10 at Illinois (70-84)
8. Michigan (20-10, 10-7) – Even – 7.7 (Last week: 7.7)
Maize M
Last Week: Beat Northwestern 72-63, Lost at Wisconsin 57-68
This Week: Saturday vs #16 Iowa
Michigan 3-1-16
RPI: 57 | Best win: Jan. 12 vs #3 Maryland (70-67) | Worst loss: Feb. 16 at Ohio State (66-76)
9. Penn State (15-14, 6-10) – Even – 9.7 (Last week: 9.0)
Penn State Logo
Last Week: Beat Nebraska 56-55, Lost at 6 Michigan State 57-88
This Week: Thursday vs Northwestern, Sunday vs Illinois
Penn State 3-1-16
RPI: 98 | Best win: Feb. 17 vs #4 Iowa (79-75) | Worst loss: Nov. 24 vs Radford (74-86)
10. Northwestern (18-11, 6-10) – Up 1 – 10.0 (Last week: 11.0)
NorthwesternLogo
Last Week: Lost at Michigan 63-72, Beat Rutgers 98-59
This Week: Thursday at Penn State, Sunday vs Nebraska
Northwestern 3-1-16
RPI: 121 | Best win: Jan. 12 vs Wisconsin (70-65) | Worst loss: Jan. 16 vs Penn State (62-71)
11. Illinois (13-16, 5-11) – Up 2 – 10.3 (Last week: 12.7)
IllinoisLogo
Last Week: Lost to #18 Indiana 47-74, Beat Minnesota 84-71
This Week: Thursday at #14 Maryland, Sunday at Penn State
Illinois 3-1-16
RPI: 163 | Best win: Jan 10 vs #10 Purdue (84-70) | Worst loss: Nov. 13 vs North Florida (81-93)
12. Nebraska (14-15, 6-10) – Down 2 – 12.0 (Last week: 10.0)
Nebraska logo
Last Week: Lost at Penn State 55-56
This Week: Tuesday vs #15 Purdue, Sunday at Northwestern
Nebraska 3-1-16
RPI: 169 | Best win: Jan. 20 at #11 Michigan State (72-71) | Worst loss: Dec. 20 vs Samford (58-69)
13. Minnesota (8-20, 2-14) – Down 1 – 12.3 (Last week: 13.0)
Minnesota-Logo
Last Week: Beat Rutgers 83-61, Lost at Illinois 71-84
This Week: Wednesday vs Wisconsin, Saturday at Rutgers
Minnesota 3-1-16
RPI: 239 | Best win: Feb. 18 vs #6 Maryland (68-63) | Worst loss: Dec. 5 vs South Dakota (81-85 2OT)
14. Rutgers (6-23, 0-16) – Even – 14.0 (Last week: 14.0)
Rutgers logo
Last Week: Lost at Minnesota 61-83, Lost at Northwestern 59-98
This Week: Wednesday vs #2 Michigan State, Saturday vs Minnesota
Rutgers 3-1-16
RPI: 283 | Best win: Dec. 23 vs Fairleigh Dickinson (72-64) | Worst loss: Nov. 19 vs St. John’s (59-61)

Wisconsin 68 – Michigan 57: Badgers hand Michigan 10th loss

Sunday, February 28th, 2016


UM vs Wisconsin(Max Siker, BadgerNation.com)

Michigan continued its limp to the regular season finish line Sunday evening with a 68-57 loss to Wisconsin. The Wolverines have now dropped five of their last eight as they try to hang onto an invite to the NCAA Tournament.

Four Factors
Michigan Wisconsin
53 eFG% 58
10 OReb% 29
18 TO% 20
14 FTR 31

Michigan hung with Wisconsin for about 27 minutes, but went six and a half minutes with only a Duncan Robinson three while Wisconsin broke open a nine point lead. Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin both missed open layups that could have kept the Wolverines in the game, while the biggest drama of the last few minutes centered around whether or not little-used Wisconsin senior Jordan Smith would get in the game on Senior Night. He did and thanks to two free throws in the closing minute his point total equaled that of Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman.

Michigan shot 48 percent from the field, but made just 5-of-13 three-point attempts. Wisconsin made 8-of-21 and held an eight-point advantage at the free throw line. Wisconsin also out-rebounded Michigan 33-20.

Irvin led Michigan with 14 points on 6-of-13 shooting, in addition to eight rebounds, but he also turned the ball over five times. Walton struggled from the field, going 3-of-13, but recorded 10 points, eight assists, and five rebounds. Robinson and Ricky Doyle  both also added 10 points, while Mark Donnal faced foul trouble most of the game and scored just six.

Bronson Koenig led Wisconsin with 19 points, while Nigel Hayes added 16, Vitto Brown 14, and Ethan Happ 12.

The Wolverines get six days off before hosting Iowa to close the regular season. At 20-10 overall and 10-7 in the Big Ten, Michigan may need to beat the Hawkeyes to secure a spot in the Big Dance. Iowa (20-8, 11-5) has lost three in a row, including a 68-64 loss to Ohio State this afternoon, and gave away the Big Ten title to Indiana.

Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
34 Mark Donnal* 3-4 0-0 0-0 1 0 1 4 6 0 0 0 0 21
10 Derrick Walton* 3-13 1-4 3-4 0 5 5 2 10 8 2 0 2 38
21 Zak Irvin* 6-13 1-2 1-2 0 8 8 1 14 1 5 0 2 35
22 Duncan Robinson* 4-7 2-4 0-0 0 1 1 2 10 2 0 0 1 29
12 Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman* 1-5 0-1 0-0 1 3 4 0 2 2 2 0 0 39
03 Kam Chatman 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 2 0 1 0 0 0 8
05 D.J. Wilson 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 3
11 Andrew Dakich 2-2 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 1
24 Aubrey Dawkins 1-2 1-2 0-0 0 0 0 1 3 0 1 0 0 10
32 Ricky Doyle 5-5 0-0 0-1 0 0 0 2 10 0 1 0 0 16
Totals 24-50 5-13 4-7 3 17 20 16 57 14 11 1 5 200
Wisconsin 24-49 8-21 12-15 7 26 33 12 68 14 12 4 6
200
Full Stats

Michigan hoops preview: Wisconsin

Sunday, February 28th, 2016


UM-Wisconsin
Michigan at Wisconsin
Sunday, Feb. 28 | Madison, Wis. | 6 p.m. ET | Big Ten Network
LineWisconsin -5.5
Offense
76.0 Points/gm 69.1
(780-1,637) 47.6 Field Goal % 43.1 (661-1,534)
(289-727) 39.8 3-pt FG % 35.8 (179-500)
(356-481) 74.0 Free Throw % 70.7 (435-615)
12.3 FT Made/gm 15.5
32.3 Reb/gm 35.5
15.1 Assists/gm 11.6
9.8 Turnovers/gm 11.1
Defense
66.9 Points/gm 64.3
(714-1,609) 44.4 Field Goal % 42.4 (641-1,513)
(205-590) 34.7 3-pt FG % 38.2 (169-442)
32.1 Opp. Reb/gm 31.9
5.6 Steals/gm 5.8
2.2 Blocks/gm 3.2
Individual Leaders
Caris LeVert (16.5), Derrick Walton (12.3) Points/gm Nigel Hayes (16.4), Bronson Koenig (13.5)
Derick Walton (5.7), Caris LeVert (5.3) Reb/gm Ethan Happ (7.9), Nigel Hayes (5.6)

Michigan picked up the all-important 20th win with a comeback victory over Northwestern on Wednesday night. While that may be enough to earn an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament, one more win would like make the Wolverines a lock on Selection Sunday. This afternoon, Michigan travels to Madison to battle a rising Wisconsin squad that also sits on the bubble.

Wisconsin is 18-10 overall and 10-5 in Big Ten play, but has surged over the past month, winning nine of their last 10. The only setback since Jan. 12 was a 69-57 loss at No. 8 Michigan State last week, and the Badgers have beaten Michigan State, No. 19 Indiana, No. 2 Maryland, and No. 8 Iowa during that span. They’ve gone from a team reeling from losing its hall of fame coach midway through the season to a team that could make some noise in the Big Ten Tournament and Big Dance.

Junior forward Nigel Hayes (6-foot-8, 240) is the leading scorer, averaging 16.4 points per game and also leads the team with 3.1 assists per game. He ranks second with 5.6 rebounds. He has been held below 10 points just three times all season — most recently in the loss to Michigan State in which he shot 1-of-13 from the field — but has scored 20 or more four times in Big Ten play. Hayes scored 10 and 11 points in the two matchups with Michigan last season on 7-of-19 shooting.

Junior guard Bronson Koenig (6-foot-4, 193) averages 13.5 points, 2.3 assists, and 2.6 rebounds per game while shooting 40.2 percent from three-point range and 40.1 percent overall. He’s pretty consistent with 11, 13, 12, 16, 12, 14, and 15 points in his last seven games and he has made three three-pointers in five of those. He scored 13 and 12 against Michigan last season.

Redshirt freshman forward Ethan Happ (6-foot-9, 235) leads the team and ranks fifth in the Big Ten with 7.9 rebounds per game, while averaging 11.9 points. Unlike Koenig, he has been up and down in Big Ten play with games of 20 and 25 points against Penn State and Indiana, followed by six, 12, two, and four, then 18 against Michigan State and 20 against Illinois, and most recently, just five against Iowa.

Junior forward Vitto Brown (6-foot-8, 230) is the team’s fourth-leading scorer, averaging 9.2 points and third-leading rebounder, averaging 5.2 rebounds per game. He has scored in double figures just three times in Big Ten play, all in a three-game span against Ohio State (12 points), Nebraska (18), and Maryland (21). Aside from a zero-point performance in the first meeting with Maryland, Brown has been between four and nine points in every other game.

The fifth starter is redshirt junior guard Zak Showalter (6-foot-2, 184), who averages 7.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game. He’s the team’s second-best three-point shooter at 37.0 percent, but a better shooter from the field at 42.7 percent. He has a season high of 21 points against Rutgers on Jan. 2, but has managed double figures just twice since then.

Redshirt sophomore guard Jordan Hill (6-foot-3, 178) is the only other Badger who has started a game this season (one) and averages just 3.3 points per game. He has a season high of 13 points in Wisconsin’s overtime win over Indiana, and also scored nine points in the win at Iowa on Wednesday.

Freshman wing Khalil Iverson (6-foot-5, 205), freshman forward Charlie Thomas (6-foot-8, 253), and freshman forward Alex Illikainen (6-foot-9, 220) are the other reserves, averaging 2.8, 2.8, and 2.7 points, respectively. They’re also the only other players off the bench to average double-digit minutes per game.

This year’s Wisconsin team is a far cry from the team that took Duke to the brink of the national title last April. Bo Ryan returned midway through the season as the Badgers were just 7-5, leaving assistant Greg Gard to try to turn things around. And while he lost four of his first five Big Ten games, he has the Badgers playing as well as anyone in the conference heading into March.

Wisconsin ranks 12th in the Big Ten in points per game (69.1), 10th in field goal percentage (43.1 percent), eighth in three-point percentage (35.8), and 10th in free throw percentage (70.7). Defensively, they rank second in points allowed per game (64.3) and eighth in field goal percentage defense (42.4), but dead last against the three (38.2 percent). That’s good news for a Michigan team struggling to shoot the three-ball the past few games.

Michigan has had trouble winning in Madison, dropping 11 of their last 12 trips to the Kohl Center. Expect a hard-fought, back-and-forth game that Michigan could win if its hits its threes. That could be said about every Michigan game, of course, but given the Wolverines’ recent slump don’t expect it to happen tonight. Another close loss leads to a week off before hosting Iowa to close regular season play next Saturday.

Big Ten hoops power rankings: Feb. 23

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016


Power Rankings_header

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new leader. For the first time since we began our power rankings on Jan. 19, Iowa has been dethroned from the top spot. Although they are two and a half games back in the Big Ten standings, Michigan State made the move to the top of our power rankings. The Spartans have climbed from six to five to two to one over the last four weeks. Since dropping three in a row in mid-January, Izzo’s squad has won six of their last seven — the lone blemish a one-point overtime loss at Purdue — and look to be rounding into form just in time to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.

Iowa fell to number two after losing at Penn State, while Indiana, who holds a half-game lead over Iowa, moved up two spots thanks to a win over rival Purdue. Wisconsin continued its surge up the rankings, moving to the fifth spot, while Michigan continued its slide, all the way down to eighth. Minnesota broke out of the 13th spot for the first time in our rankings, thanks to an improbably upset of sixth-ranked Maryland, switching spots with Illinois, and ruining what would have been a thrilling battle of winless teams with Rutgers on Tuesday.

“This week was not a good one for Michigan,” said Derick. “After a win over Purdue seemingly set the stage for a coast into the tournament, the Wolverines laid an egg in Columbus and fell just short of an upset in Maryland. Now Michigan has three remaining must-win games: Wednesday vs. Northwestern, either at Wisconsin or against Iowa, and the first matchup in the Big Ten tournament. If that sounds like a tall order, that’s because it is.”

1. Michigan State (22-5, 9-5) – Up 1 – 1.7 (Last week: 2.0)
MichiganStateLogo
Last Week: Beat Wisconsin 69-57
This Week: Tuesday at Ohio State, Sunday vs Penn State
MSU 2-23-16
RPI: 16 | Best win: Nov. 17 vs #4 Kansas (79-73) | Worst loss: Jan. 20 vs Nebraska (70-71)
2. Iowa (20-6, 11-3) – Down 1 – 2.0 (Last week: 1.0)
Iowa logo
Last Week: Lost at Penn State 75-79
This Week: Wednesday vs Wisconsin, Sunday at Ohio State
Iowa 2-23-16
RPI: 13 | Best win: Jan. 14 at #4 Michigan State (76-59) | Worst loss: Feb. 17 at Penn State (75-79)
3. Indiana (22-6, 12-3) – Up 2 – 2.3 (Last week: 3.7)
IU logo
Last Week: Beat Nebraska 80-64, Beat #17 Purdue 77-73
This Week: Thursday at Illinois
Indiana 2-23-16
RPI: 29 | Best win: Feb. 11 vs #4 Iowa (85-78) | Worst loss: Nov. 23 vs Wake Forest (78-82)
4. Maryland (23-5, 11-4) – Down 1 – 4.3 (Last week 3.5)
maryland-logo
Last Week: Lost at Minnesota 63-68, Beat Michigan 86-82
This Week: Saturday at #20 Purdue
Maryland 2-23-16
RPI: 9 | Best win: Jan. 28 vs #3 Iowa (74-68) | Worst loss: Feb. 18 at Minnesota (63-68)
5. Wisconsin (17-10, 9-5) – Up 1 – 4.7 (Last week: 6.0)
Wisconsin logo
Last Week: Lost at #8 Michigan State 57-69, Beat Illinois 69-60
This Week: Wednesday at #8 Iowa, Sunday vs Michigan
Wisconsin 2-23-16
RPI: 45 | Best win: Feb. 13 at #2 Maryland (70-57) | Worst loss: Nov. 13 vs Western Illinois (67-69)
6. Purdue (21-7, 9-6) – Down 2 – 6.3 (Last week: 4.0)
Purdue logo
Last Week: Beat Northwestern 71-61, Lost at #22 Indiana 73-77
This Week: Saturday vs #10 Maryland
Purdue 2-23-16
RPI: 23 | Best win: Feb. 9 vs #8 Michigan State (82-81 OT) | Worst loss: Jan. 10 at Illinois (70-84)
7. Ohio State (18-10, 10-5) – Up 1 – 7.0 (Last week: 7.7)
Ohio State logo new
Last Week: Beat Michigan 79-66, Beat Nebraska 65-62 (OT)
This Week: Tuesday vs #6 Michigan State, Sunday vs #8 Iowa
Ohio State 2-23-16
RPI: 76 | Best win: Dec. 19 vs #4 Kentucky (74-67) | Worst loss: Jan. 10 at Illinois (70-84)
8. Michigan (19-9, 9-6) – Down 1 – 7.7 (Last week: 7.3)
Maize M
Last Week: Lost at Ohio State 66-76, Lost at #6 Maryland 82-86
This Week: Wednesday vs Northwestern, Sunday at Wisconsin
Michigan 2-23-16
RPI: 57 | Best win: Jan. 12 vs #3 Maryland (70-67) | Worst loss: Feb. 16 at Ohio State (66-76)
9. Penn State (14-13, 5-9) – Up 2 – 9.0 (Last week: 10.3)
Penn State Logo
Last Week: Beat #4 Iowa 79-75, Beat Rutgers 70-58
This Week: Thursday vs Nebraska, Sunday at #6 Michigan State
Penn State 2-23-16
RPI: 101 | Best win: Feb. 17 vs #4 Iowa (79-75) | Worst loss: Nov. 24 vs Radford (74-86)
10. Nebraska (14-14, 6-9) – Even – 10.0 (Last week: 10.0)
Nebraska logo
Last Week: Lost at #22 Indiana 64-80, Lost to Ohio State 62-65 (OT)
This Week: Thursday at Penn State
Nebraska 2-23-16
RPI: 161 | Best win: Jan. 20 at #11 Michigan State (72-71) | Worst loss: Dec. 20 vs Samford (58-69)
11. Northwestern (17-10, 5-9) – Down 2 – 11.0 (Last week: 9.0)
NorthwesternLogo
Last Week: Lost at #17 Purdue 61-71
This Week: Wednesday at Michigan, Saturday vs Rutgers
Northwestern 2-23-16
RPI: 108 | Best win: Jan. 12 vs Wisconsin (70-65) | Worst loss: Jan. 16 vs Penn State (62-71)
12. Minnesota (7-19, 1-13) – Up 1 – 12.3 (Last week: 13.0)
Minnesota-Logo
Last Week: Beat #6 Maryland 68-63
This Week: Tuesday vs Rutgers, Sunday at Illinois
Minnesota 2-23-16
RPI: 222 | Best win: Feb. 18 vs #6 Maryland (68-63) | Worst loss: Dec. 5 vs South Dakota (81-85 2OT)
13. Illinois (12-15, 4-10) – Down 1 – 12.7 (Last week: 12.0)
IllinoisLogo
Last Week: Beat Rutgers 82-66, Lost at Wisconsin 60-69
This Week: Thursday vs #18 Indiana, Sunday vs Minnesota
Illinios 2-23-16
RPI: 153 | Best win: Jan 10 vs #10 Purdue (84-70) | Worst loss: Nov. 13 vs North Florida (81-93)
14. Rutgers (6-21, 0-14) – Even – 14.0 (Last week: 14.0)
Rutgers logo
Last Week: Lost at Illinois 66-82, Lost to Penn State 58-70
This Week: Tuesday at Minnesota, Saturday at Northwestern
Rutgers 2-23-16
RPI: 275 | Best win: Dec. 23 vs Fairleigh Dickinson (72-64) | Worst loss: Nov. 19 vs St. John’s (59-61)

Big Ten hoops power rankings: Feb. 16

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016


Power Rankings_header

Iowa held onto the top spot yet again, but the top six all beat each other last week making for a little bit of movement. Michigan State is the biggest riser of the week, climbing three spots to second. Spots four through eight and the bottom three remain the same from last week.

“The top of the Big Ten is starting to get muddled…which must mean March is close,” said Sam. “Iowa holds onto the top spot for me despite dropping a game at Assembly Hall, Michigan State moves up despite losing at Mackey, and Maryland drops a bit after getting blown out at home by Wisconsin. The Badgers continue to climb my power rankings and seem poised to get a seventh Big Dance bid for the conference. Michigan, meanwhile, had a huge bounceback week capped with a tough win over Purdue at home, but Purdue’s win over MSU at home keeps them ahead of the Wolverines. This is going to be fun.”

1. Iowa (20-5, 11-2) – Even – 1.0 (Last week: 1.3)
Last Week: Lost at Indiana 78-85, Beat Minnesota 75-71
This Week: Wednesday at Penn State
2. Michigan State (21-5, 8-5) – Up 3 – 2.0 (Last week: 4.3)
Last Week: Lost at #18 Purdue 81-82 (OT), Beat Indiana 88-69
This Week: Thursday vs Wisconsin
3. Maryland (22-4, 10-3) – Down 1 – 3.5 (Last week: 1.7)
Last Week: Beat Bowie State 93-62, Lost to Wisconsin 57-70
This Week: Thursday at Minnesota, Sunday vs Michigan
4. Purdue (20-6, 8-5) – Even – 4.5 (Last week 4.0)
Last Week: Beat #8 Michigan State 82-81 (OT), Lost at Michigan 56-61
This Week: Tuesday vs Northwestern, Saturday at #22 Indiana
5. Indiana (20-6, 10-3) – Even – 5.0 (Last week: 3.7)
Last Week: Beat #4 Iowa 85-78, Lost at #8 Michigan State 69-88
This Week: Wednesday vs Nebraska, Saturday vs #17 Purdue
6. Wisconsin (16-9, 8-4) – Even – 5.5 (Last week: 6.0)
Last Week: Beat Nebraska 72-61, Beat #2 Maryland 70-57
This Week: Thursday at #8 Michigan State, Sunday vs Illinois
7. Michigan (19-7, 9-4) – Even – 6.5 (Last week: 7.3)
Last Week: Beat Minnesota 82-74, Beat #18 Purdue 61-56
This Week: Tuesday at Ohio State, Sunday at #6 Maryland
8. Ohio State (16-10, 8-5) – Even – 8.0 (Last week: 7.7)
Last Week: Beat Northwestern 71-63, Beat Rutgers 79-69
This Week: Tuesday vs Michigan, Saturday at Nebraska
9. Northwestern (17-9, 5-8) – Up 2 – 9.0 (Last week: 10.7)
Last Week: Lost at Ohio State 63-71, Beat Illinois 58-56
This Week: Tuesday at #17 Purdue
10. Nebraska (14-12, 6-7) – Down 1 – 10.0 (Last week: 9.0)
Last Week: Lost at Wisconsin 61-72, Beat Penn State 70-54
This Week: Wednesday at #22 Indiana, Saturday vs Ohio State
11. Penn State (12-13, 3-9) – Down 1 – 11.0 (Last week: 10.3)
Last Week: Lost at Nebraska 54-70
This Week: Wednesday vs #4 Iowa, Saturday at Rutgers
12. Illinois (11-14, 3-9) – Even – 12.0 (Last week: 12.0)
Last Week: Lost at Northwestern 56-58
This Week: Tuesday vs Rutgers, Saturday at Wisconsin
13. Minnesota (6-19, 0-13) – Even – 13.0 (Last week: 13.0)
Last Week: Lost to Michigan 74-82, Lost at #4 Iowa 71-75
This Week: Thursday vs #6 Maryland
14. Rutgers (6-19, 0-12) – Even – 14.0 (Last week: 14.0)
Last Week: Lost to Ohio State 69-79
This Week: Tuesday at Illinois, Saturday vs Penn State

Big Ten hoops power rankings: Feb. 2

Monday, February 1st, 2016


Power Rankings_header

Despite losing to Maryland, Iowa hangs on to the top spot, but the Terrapins gained ground and leaped Indiana. Michigan and Michigan State both also moved up a spot, while Purdue dropped two. The rest of the power rankings remained the same with the exception of Penn State and Illinois trading places for the second straight week.

1. Iowa (17-4, 8-1) – Even – 1.3 (Last week: 1.0)
Last Week: Lost to #8 Maryland 68-74, Beat Northwestern 85-71
This Week: Wednesday vs Penn State, Sunday at Illinois

“Iowa dropped a tight game on the road at Maryland but still looks to be in great shape for the conference crown,” said Sam.

“There aren’t many losable games remaining on Iowa’s schedule, and certainly none this week,” said Justin. “The Hawkeyes should hold onto the top spot for another week, but will then face Indiana next week.”

2. Maryland (19-3, 8-2) – Up 1 – 1.7 (Last week: 3.7)
Last Week: Beat #3 Iowa 74-68, Beat Ohio State 66-61
This Week: Wednesday at Nebraska, Saturday vs #18 Purdue

“Maryland had an immensely impressive week, knocking off undefeated Iowa and following it with a win in Columbus,” said Derick.

3. Indiana (18-4, 8-1) – Down 1 – 3.0 (Last week: 2.0)
Last Week: Lost at Wisconsin 79-82 (OT), Beat Minnesota 74-68
This Week: Tuesday at Michigan, Saturday at Penn State

“Indiana has a chance to really solidify itself as a contender with a win at Michigan, which is staring down the barrel of a gauntlet schedule,” said Derick.

4. Michigan (17-5, 7-2) – Up 1 – 4.0 (Last week 5.0)
Last Week: Beat Rutgers 68-57, Beat Penn State 79-72
This Week: Tuesday vs #22 Indiana, Saturday vs #10 Michigan State

“A couple more unimpressive wins from Michigan keeps them in the competition for now, but a tougher stretch beckons,” said Sam. “The Wolverines look to have the most to gain this week with monumental home matchups against Indiana and Michigan State – win one and they hold serve, win both and they are serious Big Ten contenders and will vie for a top-5 seed; lose both and things get interesting…in a bad way.”

“This is a make or break week for Michigan’s Big Ten title hopes,” said Justin. “The Wolverines are solidly in the NCAA Tournament, barring a complete collapse down the stretch, but won’t be able to win the conference if they lose to Indiana and Michigan State this week. Beat both and suddenly they’re one of the frontrunners.”

5. Michigan State (19-4, 6-4) – Up 1 – 5.3 (Last week: 4.3)
Last Week: Beat Northwestern 76-45, Beat Rutgers 96-62
This Week: Saturday at Michigan

“While MSU’s Big Ten title hopes were probably dashed two weeks ago, their shooting is coming along as the calendar turns to February,” said Sam.

6. Purdue (19-4, 7-3) – Down 2 – 5.7 (Last week: 4.0)
Last Week: Beat Minnesota 68-64, Beat Nebraska 89-74
This Week: Saturday at #4 Maryland
7. Wisconsin (13-9, 5-4) – Even – 7.0 (Last week: 7.0)
Last Week: Beat #19 Indiana 82-79 (OT), Beat Illinois 63-55
This Week: Thursday vs Ohio State
8. Ohio State (14-9, 6-4) – Even – 8.0 (Last week: 8.3)
Last Week: Beta Penn State 64-44, Beat Illinois 68-63 (OT), Lost to #8 Maryland 61-66
This Week: Thursday at Wisconsin

“Michigan State and Wisconsin are starting to round into form, while Ohio State keeps falling just short of a statement win,” said Derick.

“It’s becoming clearer by the week that this conference is poised to get six teams into the Big Dance, but Wisconsin and Ohio State could hypothetically play themselves in with incredible finishes in the back half of their conference seasons,” said Sam. “I wouldn’t put money on it, however.”

9. Nebraska (12-10, 4-5) – Even – 9.0 (Last week: 8.7)
Last Week: Lost to #21 Purdue 74-89
This Week: Wed vs #4 Maryland, Saturday vs Rutgers
10. Northwestern (15-8, 3-7) – Even – 10.7 (Last week: 10.0)
Last Week: Lost to #12 Michigan State 45-76, Lost at #3 Iowa 71-85
This Week: Thursday vs Minnesota
11. Penn State (11-11, 2-7) – Up 1 – 11.0 (Last week: 12.0)
Last Week: Lost at Ohio State 46-66, Lost to Michigan 72-79
This Week: Wednesday at #5 Iowa, Saturday vs #22 Indiana
12. Illinois (10-12, 2-7) – Down 1 – 11.3 (Last week: 11.0)
Last Week: Lost to Ohio State 63-68 (OT), Lost to Wisconsin 55-63
This Week: Wednesday at Rutgers, Sunday vs #5 Iowa
13. Minnesota (6-16, 0-10) – Even – 13.0 (Last week: 13.0)
Last Week: Lost to #21 Purdue 64-68, Lost to #19 Indiana 68-74
This Week: Wednesday vs #21 Purdue, Saturday at #19 Indiana
14. Rutgers (6-16, 0-9) – Even – 14.0 (Last week: 14.0)
Last Week: Lost at Michigan 57-68, Lost at #12 Michigan State 62-96
This Week: Wednesday vs Illinois, Saturday at Nebraska

“Northwestern’s season has crumbled into irrelevance, and Minnesota and Rutgers are still winless,” said Derick.

“Rutgers seems set to maintain their cold spot in the gutter throughout the season while Minnesota has shown signs of life while still seeking their first win after losing by six or fewer at Michigan, vs. Illinois, vs. Purdue, and at Indiana over the last two weeks,” said Sam.

Big Ten hoops power rankings: Jan. 26

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016


Power Rankings_header

Last week we introduced our Big Ten power rankings and this week we get on our normal schedule of posting them every Tuesday morning. We see a slight shakeup at the top with Indiana leap-frogging Maryland for the second slot. Four through six remain the same, but Northwestern tumbles three spots. The bottom four remain the bottom four.

1. Iowa (16-3, 7-0) – Even – 1.0 (Last week: 1.0)
Last Week: Beat Rutgers 90-76, Beat #22 Purdue 83-71
This Week: Thursday at #8 Maryland, Sunday vs Northwestern

“Again, there is really nothing to argue over the top two teams and the bottom four or so. I think Iowa is significantly better than Indiana right now despite the Hoosiers’ 12-game winning streak,” said Sam.

2. Indiana (17-3, 7-0) – Up 1 – 2.0 (Last week: 3.7)
Last Week: Beat Illinois 103-69, Beat Northwestern 89-57
This Week: Tuesday at Wisconsin, Saturday vs Minnesota

“It looks like the Big Ten title is a two-horse race, as Iowa and Indiana sit at 7-0 and two games ahead of the pack,” said Derick.

“ndiana is winning big when it should, but there’s no denying their insanely easy early conference schedule and really their conference draw overall (single plays against Purdue, Maryland, Michigan, and Michigan State),” said Sam.

3. Maryland (17-3, 6-2) – Down 1 – 3.7 (Last week: 2.0)
Last Week: Beat Northwestern 62-56 (OT), Lost at #11 Michigan State 65-74
This Week: Thursday vs #3 Iowa, Sunday at Ohio State

“Maryland, perhaps the most talented team in the conference, has suffered two disappointing road losses and thrown away any room for error if it hopes to be back in contention,” said Derick.

4. Purdue (17-4, 5-3) – Even – 4.0 (Last week 4.3)
Last Week: Beat Rutgers 107-57, Beat Ohio State 75-64, Lost at #9 Iowa 71-83
This Week: Wednesday at Minnesota, Saturday vs Nebraska
5. Michigan (15-5, 5-2) – Even – 4.3 (Last week: 5.0)
Last Week: Beat Minnesota 74-69, Beat Nebraska 81-68
This Week: Wednesday vs Rutgers, Saturday vs Penn State (in NYC)

“One more week of breathers before the final stretch begins. Michigan is still in the Big Ten title race and will need to take care of business against two cellar dwellers, Rutgers at home and then Penn State in Madison Square Garden.” said Justin. “Get through those and next week will be fun with Indiana and Michigan State coming to town.”

6. Michigan State (17-4, 4-4) – Even – 6.0 (Last week: 5.7)
Last Week: Lost to Nebraska 71-72, Beat #7 Maryland 74-65
This Week: Thursday at Northwestern, Sunday vs Rutgers

“Purdue, Michigan and Michigan State are the only true fringe contenders who, with a long winning streak, could reenter the conversation,” said Derick.

“Purdue probably has a slight upper had on the third spot while Michigan, Michigan State, and Maryland appear to be very close right now,” said Sam. “If Caris LeVert returns healthy before an up-and-down closing stretch to the conference season, the Wolverines might even move up a couple rungs on the ladder, but it’s tough to see anyone catching Iowa and/or Indiana at this point.”

7. Wisconsin (11-9, 3-4) – Up 1 – 7.0 (Last week: 8.0)
Last Week: Beat Penn State 66-60
This Week: Tuesday vs #19 Indiana, Sunday at Illinois
8. Ohio State (12-8, 4-3) – Up 1 – 8.3 (Last week: 8.7)
Last Week: Lost to #22 Purdue 64-75
This Week: Monday vs Penn State, Thursday at Illinois, Sunday vs #8 Maryland
9. Nebraska (12-9, 4-4) – Up 1 – 8.7 (Last week: 9.3)
Last Week: Beat #11 Michigan State 72-71, Lost to Michigan 68-81
This Week: Saturday at #21 Purdue

“Wisconsin, Nebraska and Ohio State have put their NCAA Tournament hopes on life alert, all hovering around .500 overall,” said Derick. “Those teams, along with an immensely disappointing Northwestern squad, have to be almost perfect the rest of the way to have any hope.”

10. Northwestern (15-6, 3-5) – Down 3 – 10.0 (Last week: 7.3)
Last Week: Lost at #7 Maryland 56-62 (OT), Lost at #25 Indiana 57-89
This Week: Thursday vs #12 Michigan State, Sunday at #3 Iowa

“Wisconsin, Ohio State and Nebraska would need something approximating a miracle to play their way into the Dance, while Northwestern looks poised to once again miss out on its Cinderella shot for about the 214th straight season,” said Sam.

11. Illinois (11-8, 2-4) – Up 1 – 11.0 (Last week: 12.0)
Last Week: Lost at #25 Indiana 69-103, Beat Minnesota 76-71 (OT)
This Week: Thursday vs Ohio State, Sunday vs Wisconsin
12. Penn State (11-9, 2-5) – Down 1 – 12.0 (Last week: 11.0)
Last Week: Lost to Wisconsin 60-66
This Week: Monday at Ohio State, Saturday vs Michigan
13. Minnesota (6-14, 0-8) – Even – 13.0 (Last week: 13.3)
Last Week: Lost to Michigan 69-74, Lost to Illinois 71-76 (OT)
This Week: Wednesday vs #21 Purdue, Saturday at #19 Indiana
14. Rutgers (6-14, 0-7) – Even – 14.0 (Last week: 13.7)
Last Week: Lost to #22 Purdue 57-105, Lost to #9 Iowa 76-90
This Week: Wednesday at Michigan, Sunday at #12 Michigan State

“What’s hurting the Big Ten’s overall strength this season, however, is a brutal basement comprised of Illinois, Penn State, Minnesota, and Rutgers,” said Sam. “I would be surprised if we don’t see at least two of those four teams fire their coaches following such disappointing seasons (and my money’s on Pitino and Groce at this point).”