Wednesday Afternoon Point Guard... Back from some much needed R&R with the fam in the warmth and sun of Florida and man has a lot happened in the past week. Michigan State lost Matt Trannon at the worst possible time given who they were playing (OSU and IU) and promptly played themselves out of the race. Iowa, once in the driver's seat, relinquished that to Ohio State who comes down the home stretch with two very winnable games and a solo title within reach - a full year ahead of schedule to boot (given the recruiting class that comes in next fall). Illinois and Wisconsin are still in the race, as is Iowa, but the potential seeding for the Big Ten Tourney is a mess and the Big Dance is as cloudy as ever, even though the Hoosiers may have extended Mike Davis' stay with the win over the Spartans.
Home is as sweet as ever... After a second-straight 9-1 week for home teams (not including the Minnesota loss to Illinois last night), the hosts stand at 58-21 overall - a win percentage of .734. More impressive than that is the overall home record of the top seven contenders in the Big Ten race: 44-6! Iowa is the only remaining unbeaten at home but no one else has more than one home loss. The league is as tough as I can remember and when you look at the big picture, it all comes down to who drew what when the computer spit out the slates for this league season...
Champ chase getting clearer... The past few weeks, I was certain that we'd have a four-way tie atop the conference. With two games left for most teams, I am here to tell you that unless Ohio State gets tripped up in Evanston tonight (a distinct possibility - just ask Iowa and Wisconsin) it will be the scarlet and gray sitting all alone in the top spot. From there, it gets cloudy. The seeding scenarios are all across the board when it comes to Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Michigan and Indiana. Hang on tight, it'll be a wild ride.
Upset of the week... Hands down, it was the way Daniel Horton more or less single-handedly beat the Illini in Ann Arbor. That was a huge, and unexpected win for the then bubble bound Wolverines.
Team of the week... The Buckeyes. They put themselves in a position to win this thing all by themselves with a huge road win in East Lansing and a nice home win over rival Michigan.
Back to seven... Barring a catastrophe this week, Indiana has played itself back into the NCAA Tournament and the Big Ten will again be sending seven teams, maybe more if someone like Minnesota or Northwestern shocks everyone with a four day run to the B10 Tourney title in a week.
Where do they rank? I'd put the following teams in my Top 25: Ohio State (10), Illinois (12), Iowa (20), Michigan State (23), and Wisconsin (24) with Michigan not far behind.
How it will go down... Ohio State will be your champ at 12-4. Iowa will finish second with a solid 11-5 record. Illinois comes in third at 10-6. Michigan State, Michigan and Wisconsin tie for fourth at 9-7 and Indiana finishes off at 8-8. Penn State and Northwestern will go 6-10, Minnesota 5-11 and Purdue 3-13.
Back to the NCAA Tourney talk... ESPN has it this way. I see it as follows:
I see Ohio State as a two seed, playing close to home. The only way they drop is with a one and done in Indy, but I don't see that happening.
I see Illinois as a three seed in what I consider the weakest bracket (one with Memphis as a one seed). They could sneak up to a two or fall to a four, but both are doubtful.
I see Iowa as a dreaded five seed with the potential to go out early or sneak all the way to the Elite 8 or beyond.
I see Wisconsin as a six with the potential to do the sort of damage that the 2000 team did.
I see Michigan State as a five seed. This team doesn't have the record of last year's but just played the toughest slate possible in the Big Ten and played a solid OOC schedule. Worst case, State is looking at 19-12, and that would mean more like an 8-10. Best case, they are looking at 24-9. I see them 22-10 and right at a five. Another team that could go out early or make a nice run.
I see Michigan as an eight or nine no matter what happens from here on out. Likely in a region with an "upset-able" one seed.
I see Indiana as an 11 seed, unless they lose both games this week and then it could be NIT for the cream and crimson.