Big Ten Ball Underway
Minnesota and Michigan State kicked things off this past Monday, with the former coming out on top 76-63 behind Andre Hollins’s 22 points and 6 assists. And what’s up next for the Golden Gophers? Between Wednesday, January 9th and Thursday, January 17th, Minnesota faces 3 teams currently ranked in the nations top 11: that’s 11th ranked Illinois, 5th ranked Indiana, and 2nd ranked Michigan. Sounds like fun, huh?
Indiana edged out Iowa on the Big Ten’s opening night 69-65 and two days later Ohio State kicked off their in-conference season with a 70-44 blowout win against Nebraska. But the 11th-ranked Illini started their Big Ten campaign with a bit of a hiccup, losing 68-61 against a Purdue team that’s posted a mediocre 7-6 record so far this season. With Ohio State and Minnesota next on Illinois’s schedule, their potential to make a run at one of the better records in the conference well be on the line right away.
That finally brings us to Thursday night, when Michigan blew away Northwestern 94-66 and Wisconsin held their home court 60-51 against Penn State. At 10-4, the Badgers took some tough losses out of the gate this season, but in a year where the Big Ten could quite possibly get 7-or-so teams in the tournament, a quality conference record could go a long ways, as could a win or two in the Big Ten Tournament.
The game that should be highest on your radar as of now is the one on Saturday, February 2nd. Michigan and Indiana will meet for the first time this season, and then close out the regular season on Sunday, March 10th with Round Two. Before the February 2nd matchup, the undefeated Wolverines will have games against Ohio State, Minnesota, and Illinois while Indiana will have to face Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan State. But no matter whether the two teams head into February 2nd with undefeated conference records, the game is going to have a lot riding on it.
All in all, this year’s Big Ten schedule offers extremely meaningful games almost every night of the week. Ohio State and Illinois highlight this weekend, while next weekend we’ll see Michigan face Ohio State and Indiana against Minnesota.
It may not be March quite yet, but it’s never too early to let your College Basketball flags fly.