Monday, February 20, 2006

Monday Afternoon Point Guard...

Still home sweet home... After a gaudy 9-1 week for home teams, the hosts stand at 49-20 overall - a win percentage of .710. More impressive than that is the overall home record of the top five contenders in the Big Ten race: 28-3. Iowa and Michigan State remain uunbeaten at home. What does it mean? The team that can protect the home court over the last two weeks AND escape with a road win or two will be the eventual champ.

Who's gonna be that champ? Well, last week I predicted that we'd stand as such, "Iowa, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Illinois will be tied with four losses apiece, and Michigan State will be right there with five. Michigan and Indiana will be two games out." The only part I had wrong was Indiana, but that's an entirely different story. I also said, "I guess if I had a gun to my head, I'd say we're probably looking at Ohio State, Iowa, Illinois and Michigan State atop the conference at 11-5 when all is said and done." So, gun to my head in one wacky year of Big Ten hoops, I'm sticking with a four team tie at the top.

Upset of the week ... Hands down, it was the Minnesota win over Iowa. Iowa was riding high after paying back the Spartans and a win at the venerable "Barn" would have more or less guaranteed a probable outright Big Ten title. Now, Minny getting the "W" at home these days isn't a big upset, but it was a case of a lower tier team picking off another big dog and therefore earns the weekly laurels.

Team of the week ... Probably Wisconsin after a great come-from-behind win over Ohio State at home. Runner-up to Illinois for going 2-0 and also staying right in the thick of the race.

Indiana oh Indiana... My question of the week: Will Indiana play a factor in the rest of the race or roll over and play dead now that they have a lame duck coach? The answer? I really don't know. Seriously. IU got beaten by a Penn State team due for a nice home win and got rolled on the road. No huge surprises with either loss, but this team just looks deflated and like they want nothing more for the season to be over. Given that, I'm guessing that IU gets maybe, MAYBE one more win the rest of the way and misses the postseason all together.

This week's Game of the Week ... With two weeks to go, there are some great games on tap. Ohio State travels to Michigan State for a game integral to the title chase. Iowa travels to Illinois for the same. And don't laugh but Northwestern could give Wisconsin fits in Evanston this weekend. Still, the top game is OSU at MSU, given what it means to the race and what happened when they last met (Double OT thriller in C-bus).

Where do they rank? I'd put the following teams in my Top 25: Illinois (12), Ohio State (16), Michigan State (18), Iowa (20) and Wisconsin (25).

How it will go down ... After this week, Wisconsin and Illinois will be tied with four losses apiece, and Michigan State, Iowa and Ohio State will be right there with five.

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