Get Gamm - Week Four…
Home teams sputtered a bit last week (5-4) and are now 20-8 (.714) this Big Ten season. That cost a few in the Get Gamm standings, but alas, a new week is upon us. There are some solid games that will mean a lot in the standings and as we look towards March Madness, which is creeping up faster than we think.
This Week’s Schedule:
Jan. 23 – Indiana at Illinois
Jan. 24 – Minnesota at Michigan State
Jan. 24 – Michigan at Wisconsin
Jan. 24 – Ohio State at Northwestern
Jan. 24 – Penn State at Iowa
Jan. 27 – Michigan at Indiana
Jan. 27 – Penn State at Minnesota
Jan. 27 – Illinois at Purdue (Tiebreaker)
Jan. 27 – Michigan State at Ohio State
Jan. 28 – Wisconsin at Iowa
A big game to start off the week in the Big Ten. A red hot Indiana squad travels to Champaign to take on a desperate Illinois team. The Fighting Illini lost a tough one to Wisconsin over the weekend, their third loss at home this season. To put it in perspective, they hadn’t lost more than one at home this century! Indiana is right in the thick of the conference race and getting better with each game. Illinois needs a win in a big game to get back on track as far as the NCAA Tournament is concerned. I don’t see the Illini losing another one at home. Illinois 74 – Indiana 71.
Ask Tom Izzo and he’ll tell you after this one, Michigan State plays as tough a slate as anyone in the nation. Minnesota is the resident doormat in the league this year and while State cannot look past the Gophers, this is the last easy game on the schedule. In an eight day span following this game, the Spartans play Ohio State and Illinois on the road and the Buckeyes back at home. Get while the gettin’s good… Michigan State 75 – Minnesota 59.
A HUGE game for Michigan and an opportunity to make a statement to the league is at hand when the Wolverines head to Madison to take on the white hot Badgers. Wisconsin won’t waltz through the league unbeaten, but losing in the Kohl Center is a rarity. Try this one on for size – the only team in the Big Ten to beat Bo Ryan and his squad at home is Illinois – twice. The streak lives. Wisconsin 71 – Michigan 62.
Northwestern gets a return trip a week after the beating it took in Columbus. This is the sort of place that can trip up a young team like Ohio State. Then again, after watching the systematic dismantling of the Wildcats at Value City Arena, there is little chance the home court edge means a thing in this game. Ohio State 75 – Northwestern 57.
Penn State and Iowa are two teams in need of victories. Iowa has dropped three of the last four and Penn State is coming off a home whipping by Michigan State. Both teams are likely battling to stay above .500 overall for the season and come March, these are the games that determine if you make the NIT or stay home. I like the home court edge at Carver Hawkeye. Iowa 69 – Penn State 65.
As if the trip to Mad-town wasn’t enough, the maize and blue follow it up with a trek to Bloomington. Indiana will be stinging after a tough loss at Illinois and will take it out on a Michigan team that the Hoosiers have owned at Assembly Hall of late. Indiana 78 – Michigan 65.
Penn State stays on the road with a trip to Williams Arena to take on Minnesota. The Gophers hammered Purdue at home but got spanked by Northwestern on the same floor. Penn State has a solid starting five and will get some wins this year. For the second time this week, the home advantage doesn’t hold up. Penn State 67 – Minnesota 60.
A big rivalry game is on tap when the Illini take to the road to face the Boilermakers. Purdue has been disappointing to me so far in conference play. Then again, Illinois is right there too. This game has enormous long term implications. Home teams cannot afford to lose these games and make the Big Dance. Road teams that can steal big wins in tough arenas peak the interest of the selection committee. In an overtime thriller, Purdue uses a week of rest to its advantage and takes out Illinois. Purdue 79 – Illinois 77 (OT).
Michigan State and Ohio State has been a good battle over the past several years and this one is shaping up to be more of the same. The Buckeyes are young but extremely talented. Michigan State might have the best shot at slowing Greg Oden of any team, if only because the Spartans have four big bodies to rotate on the super frosh. This is the type of game where the backcourt can wear out for the Spartans. Walton and Neitzel give it all they have but the OSU depth there is the difference. Ohio State 68 – Michigan State 63.
Don’t laugh but this might be the best shot at a season making win Iowa has. Wisconsin comes to town riding high and looking to extend a school record win streak. Like I’ve said, the Badgers might be the class of the league, but they will not go 16-0. This is as likely a spot to lose as any. Iowa pulls off the shocking upset and the fans clamoring for an Alford exit quiet down for at least a day. Iowa 66 – Wisconsin 65.