Get Gamm – Week Five…
Game time. Home teams are 28-10 (.737) but there are a few tough home contests on the slate this week, starting with Michigan State’s visit to Illinois. Ohio State goes on the road twice this week and has a better than average shot at emerging unscathed. Perhaps the biggest road battle takes place Wednesday when white hot Wisconsin invades Bloomington looking to keep an NCAA best 17-game win streak going…
This Week’s Schedule:
Jan. 30 – Michigan State at Illinois
Jan. 31 – Ohio State at Purdue
Jan. 31 – Wisconsin at Indiana
Jan. 31 – Minnesota at Northwestern
Jan. 31 – Iowa at Michigan
Feb. 3 – Purdue at Penn State
Feb. 3 – Indiana at Iowa
Feb. 3 – Northwestern at Wisconsin
Feb. 3 – Ohio State at Michigan State (Tiebreaker)
Feb. 3 – Minnesota at Illinois
For players and coaches, there are no such things as moral victories. But from this angle, Michigan State had one at Ohio State. Wins and losses are all that ultimately matter of course, but there is something to be said for the confidence a team can gain in a “moral victory.” The Spartans are finally starting to get healthy while Illinois continues to be bitten by the injury bug. State has lost the last three in Champaign by an average of 21 and may not have enough gas in the tank to get a huge road win. This will make for classic TV, but Illinois finds its range from three and nips MSU late. Illinois 68 – Michigan State 66.
Another very intriguing game on tap this week is set to tip Wednesday night in West Lafayette. Ohio State escaped with a win over Michigan State on Saturday and goes to face a suddenly resurgent Purdue squad. The key for the Boilermakers is playing on Keady Court because frankly, the gold and black are horrid on the road (and have been for a few years). Painter’s squad spanked the Illini on Saturday and will hope to ride that momentum to a big win over OSU. I’m not sure Purdue has enough horses inside to keep Greg Oden at bay, but I’m going with the upset anyway. Purdue 70 – Ohio State 67.
Much like Purdue, Indiana is a totally different team at home than on the road. IU isn’t as bad as their rival away from Assembly Hall but I digress. This is arguably the Hoosiers’ biggest game of the season. A shot at the Badgers at home. The cream and crimson are mighty efficient offensively in games played in Bloomington and folks, no one goes unbeaten in the Big Ten. Indiana pulls off an upset along the lines of the last second win over then number one Michigan State back in 2001. Indiana 71 – Wisconsin 69.
Uh, um, okay, well… there isn’t much to say about a rematch of cellar dwelling Northwestern and Minnesota. So, that’s all I have to say about that (Forrest Gump Reference). Northwestern 56 – Minnesota 52.
Looking for a big time early-ish season Bubble game? Look no further than Iowa’s visit to Michigan. Iowa is no where near the bubble and really needs to win the Big Ten Tournament to go dancing. However, Michigan is firmly in the vicinity of the bubble and absolutely must get back on track after an abysmal week on the road. A win here keeps Michigan’s head afloat and gives them another “decent” feather in their NCAA Hopes cap. A loss here and you can ready the “Fire Tommy” ammo. But alas, a temporary reprieve … Michigan 67 – Iowa 62.
When Purdue travels to State College to take on the desperate Nittany Lions on Saturday, there is an awful lot on the line. If Purdue can manage to prove me right and beat OSU, this would be a good opportunity to win a road game and get in the vicinity of the proverbial bubble. The Boilers handled Penn State for about 30 minutes in their first meeting, before a late flurry almost carried the Nits to a road win. Penn State is the enigma of the Big Ten. Plenty of talent, a good venue, above average coach and more but no ability to get over the hump. Purdue has lost something like 28 straight on the road. Will that end? Toss a coin … Purdue 74 – Penn State 70.
In January, Indiana held on to beat a game Iowa squad after handling them for the better part of 35 minutes. However, this one is at Carver Hawkeye and the black and gold are playing for their NIT lives. Iowa has been close on a lot of occasions and exacts some revenge in this one. Iowa 65 – Indiana 60.
Northwestern always gives Wisconsin a battle… in Evanston. The Badgers will be ready to jump start a new win streak after falling to Indiana. Wisconsin 70 – Northwestern 55.
Anyone who saw the fantastic game between Michigan State and Ohio State last Saturday night will be tuning in for this rematch. MSU might have done the best job to date in keeping Connoly and Oden at bay – as best as possible anyway. The key will be the start. If the Spartans can put together good shooting for the entire game to go with the suffocating defense and strong glass work, revenge will be had. It’ll be another instant classic. Michigan State 68 – Ohio State 65.
Minnesota is just plain out-numbered by most around the league. There is some skill there but even a beat up Illinois team should be able to handle the Golden Gophers. Illinois 71 – Minnesota 56.
NCAA Tournament Talk...
With all of the bracket banter starting to heat up, here is my current take on in/bubble/out for the Big Ten.
IN: Wisconsin, Ohio State, Indiana and Michigan State
BUBBLE: Michigan and Illinois
OUT: Purdue and Iowa