Get Gamm – Week Seven
I’m not quite sure, aside from a handful of rivalry games, why ESPN chose last week as its rivalry week. Well, hold on a second, yes I am sure – their beloved Duke was playing host to North Carolina. I’ll give you that that game is the crème de la crème of college hoop rivalries, but to name a whole week, for that one game?
This week is much closer to Rivalry Week for the Big Ten. Michigan and Michigan State do battle. Indiana and Purdue go head to head. Wisconsin plays Minnesota and Northwestern takes on Illinois. The only rivalry game last week was Michigan at Ohio State and last I checked that’s only a real rivalry of note on the gridiron.
Enough about that, here’s the slate followed by what I think will go down this week. Note: I will be taking a posting hiatus until Tuesday the 20th so I have included next week’s schedule at the bottom in case you want to get your picks in early.
This Week’s Schedule:
Feb. 13 – Michigan at Michigan State
Feb. 14 – Indiana at Purdue (Tiebreaker)
Feb. 14 – Ohio State at Penn State
Feb. 14 – Wisconsin at Minnesota
Feb. 14 – Northwestern at Iowa
Feb. 17 – Penn State at Wisconsin
Feb. 17 – Iowa at Michigan State
Feb. 17 – Indiana at Michigan
Feb. 18 – Ohio State at Minnesota
Feb. 18 – Northwestern at Illinois
Michigan and Michigan State have a HUGE game in East Lansing Tuesday night. The Spartans have won 13 of the last 15 starting with a win at home in 1998. State needs to keep the dominance alive to start moving off the bubble and back into solid tournament standing. Michigan gained some confidence with a win over Minnesota, at home, but shouldn’t a tourney caliber team be pounding weaker foes at home? The Spartans had a week to rest up and will be firing on all cylinders. Michigan State wins by double digits yet again… Michigan State 68 – Michigan 58.
The week’s second rivalry tilt also has big time NCAA Tournament implications. Indiana is pretty safe at this point, barring a slide of epic proportions, but Purdue has work to do. A win in this one, given the remaining slate, would bode very well for the gold and black. The Boilers get some payback and stay right in the race for a tournament berth. Purdue 71 – Indiana 66.
Ohio State travels to Penn State to play one of the more underachieving teams in recent memory in the Big Ten. Penn State has some solid talent but plays no defense. They lack a real big man and that will spell doom against Oden and the Buckeyes. The only thing to watch is whether OSU can stay focused as a young team on a game they should win and not get caught looking ahead. Ohio State 77 – Penn State 68.
When the Badgers hit the road for The Barn in Minny, we’ll have our third rivalry game of the week. The difference between this and the predecessors is that those are great match-ups. Wisconsin should be able to put away a gritty and tough but very under-manned Gopher squad without much effort. Wisconsin 70 – Minnesota 56.
Northwestern is back to .500 overall and needs to make hay in its last six if it wants a shot at the back to 32-team (from 40) NIT. It won’t be easy with a trip to Iowa mid-week. The Hawkeyes have been a marvel this Big Ten season, finding ways to win just when you think there is no way they should. A surge at season’s end is also needed by Iowa to go to the postseason, but for the black and gold the goal is the Big Dance. Iowa 67 – Northwestern 55.
Nothing like playing the cream of the crop in the Big Ten this week. That’s Penn State’s task. OSU at home, followed by a trip to Madison. Ouch, not what this team and its fragile psyche needs right now. It could get ugly fast, despite the fact that the Nittany Lions hung tough with Wisconsin for most of the first match-up. Wisconsin 78 – Penn State 60.
Another home game, another HUGE game in Michigan State’s climb off the bubble. The Spartans must follow-up a win over Michigan with a win over Iowa – a team it could have beaten in the Big Ten opener despite being outplayed for most of that game. This time, the Spartans have Morgan and Joseph healthy and the Breslin Center crowd behind them. Payback for the green and white. Michigan State 70 – Iowa 64.
Indiana stays on the road and pays a visit to Michigan, a team the Hoosiers have owned for a while now, whether at home or in Crisler. If 10,000 Michigan fans dress up as empty seats again (like at the Minnesota game), there is no way the Wolverines parlay the home crowd into a much-needed win. I’m torn in this one, but the way Indiana handled Michigan in the first one and Michigan’s propensity to collapse late… Indiana 72 – Michigan 68.
Another potential trap game for the Buckeyes as they go to the other “far side” of Big Ten territory to take on the Golden Gophers. Say what you want about the 9-16 squad in maroon and gold, they play tough and scrappy and are bound to surprise someone down the stretch. With Tollickson back, Minnesota has a body to bang with Oden. The difference is that the Buckeyes bring a guy like Cook off the bench. Ohio State 67 – Minnesota 65.
The week ends with a rivalry game in the state of Illinois. Northwestern was right in the game with Illinois until the Illini exploded to an easy win in the second half of the first contest. The Illini rarely lose at home and know they need these to stay in the NCAA Tournament picture. Illinois 64 – Northwestern 49.
Next Week’s Schedule:
Feb. 20 – Wisconsin at Michigan State
Feb. 21 – Minnesota at Indiana
Feb. 21 – Penn State at Ohio State
Feb. 21 – Texas Pan Am at Northwestern
Feb. 21 – Michigan at Illinois
Feb. 21 – Purdue at Iowa
Feb. 24 – Purdue at Northwestern
Feb. 24 – Illinois at Penn State
Feb. 24 – Michigan at Minnesota
Feb. 24 – Indiana at Michigan State
Feb. 25 – Wisconsin at Ohio State (Tiebreaker)