This Week in Big Ten Men's Basketball

Big Ten Standings (As of Monday, January, 23rd)
1.    Maryland 5-1 (17-2)
2.    Wisconsin 5-1 (16-3)
3.    Northwestern 5-2 (16-4)
4.    Purdue 5-2 (16-4)
5.    Indiana 4-3 (14-6)
6.    Michigan State 4-3 (12-8)
7.    Minnesota 3-4 (13-7)
8.    Michigan 3-4 (13-7)
9.    Iowa 3-4 (11-9)
10.    Penn State 3-4 (11-9)
11.    Nebraska 3-4 (9-10)
12.    Illinois 2-5 (12-8)
13.    Ohio State 2-5 (12-8)
14.    Rutgers 1-6 (12-8)
Tuesday, January 24
7 PM Rutgers @ #22 Maryland, Big Ten Network
The two east coast Big Ten teams will battle it out in College Park, Maryland. Rutgers just got their first win of the Big Ten season with a victory over Nebraska. This win for the Scarlet Knights ended their eight-game losing streak. Maryland has been riding a four-game win streak, winning three on the road. How are they going to be when they return home? Rutgers is 1-4 in last five games while Maryland is 4-1. Maryland averages 75.7 ppg while Rutgers manages 68.1.
Prediction: Maryland
7 PM #20 Purdue @ Michigan State, ESPN2
Caleb Swanigan returns to East Lansing to play the team he committed to originally before being flipped to Purdue. This game will be a battle of big men. Michigan State offers the best options for Big Ten Freshman of the Year in Miles Bridges, Nick Ward, and Cassius Winston. Purdue offers the best candidate for Big Ten Player of the Year in Caleb Swanigan. Purdue is riding a two game win streak while the Spartans have dropped two in a row. Purdue offers better points per game and points allowed, but the game will be in the all-powerful Breslin Center.
Prediction: Purdue
9 PM Penn State @ #15 Wisconsin, Big Ten Network
Penn State will travel to Madison to take on arguably the best team in the Big Ten, Wisconsin. Wisconsin is getting into their late season form while Penn State is still figuring out the Big Ten. Ethan Happ, Nigel Hayes, and Bronson Koenig lead Wisconsin to their 76.4 points per game and 61.2 points allowed for a difference of 15.2 points per game. Penn State started the year off hot, but have gone 2-3 in their last five, losing those three games by a total of 31 points. However, don’t forget this is the same team that beat Minnesota and Michigan State.
Prediction: Wisconsin
Wednesday, January 25
7 PM Minnesota @ Ohio State, Big Ten Network
Minnesota was ranked not so long ago. They rushed out to a hot start in the nonconference and struggled in Big Ten play. Ohio State’s year has not been at all what it was supposed to be, with some bright spots coming off wins over Nebraska and Michigan State. Both teams are 2-3 in the last five, OSU riding a 2 game win streak and Minnesota riding a 3 game losing streak. Nate Mason will match up with JaQuan Lyle for a good guard battle. Averaging nearly identical points for and points against this game is shaping up to be a good fight. Minnesota is lucky Value City Arena is not as influential as some of the other Big Ten arenas.
Prediction: Minnesota
9 PM Iowa @ Illinois, Big Ten Network
Illinois and Iowa both took a step backward this season but still have time to get a good enough record to be selected to a secondary postseason tournament. Iowa is 2-3 in the last five and Illinois is 1-4. Both played Purdue in those five games. Iowa beat the Boilermakers 83-78 and Illinois lost to them 91-68. Luckily for Illinois, it’s a home game making the game somewhat even.
Prediction: Iowa
Thursday, January 26
8 PM Nebraska @ Northwestern, Big Ten Network
Nebraska came out of the gates hot in the Big Ten and much to everyone’s surprise took down some good teams. Northwestern has been consistent all year besides the big loss to Michigan State and the loss to Minnesota the following game. Northwestern is 3-2 in the last five riding a 3 game win streak. Nebraska is 1-4 in the last 5 riding a 4 game losing streak. Northwestern is the better team and hosting the game, but don’t put anything by the Huskers who took down Indiana and Maryland in back to back games earlier this season.
Prediction: Northwestern
9 PM Indiana @ Michigan, ESPN2
Indiana is no longer ranked, but they still have the talent of a ranked team. They are 4-1 in their last 5 with a 3 game win streak. Michigan is 2-3 in the last five with a 1 game win streak. Wolverines are scoring 74 points per game, a full ten below the 84 averaged by the Hoosiers. Indiana allows 69 per game and Michigan allows 65. Indiana is more talented but the Crisler Center plays to Michigan’s favor. This is a must-win if Michigan wants to reach the NCAA Tournament and a must win for Indiana in their pursuit of a Big Ten title.
Prediction: Indiana
Saturday, January 28
12 PM Rutgers vs #15 Wisconsin (Madison Square Garden), Big Ten Network
Rutgers will be playing host to Wisconsin at Madison Square Garden, a move that does not play into their own favor. Wisconsin has fans traveling from all over to watch the Badgers at MSG, Rutgers not so much. The #15 Wisconsin team with deep experience and three-star players should get a big win.
Prediction: Wisconsin
2:15 PM #22 Maryland @ Minnesota, Big Ten Network
This game will be close, very close. The Barn gets rocking when Minnesota plays good, and they have been as of late. If Minnesota gets the win earlier in the week, expect their momentum to flow with them all the way back to the Barn. A downtrodden Golden Gopher squad will not pull the same support making for an easier game for Maryland. Maryland and Minnesota average nearly the same in points per game and points allowed. The Gophers are playing good ball and against an equal opponent in the Barn, they should win.
Prediction: Minnesota
4:30 PM Illinois @ Penn State, Big Ten Network
Illinois will travel far to reach University Park, Pennsylvania. The Bryce Jordan Center seats 15,000 and it has not seen full capacity lately. An afternoon Saturday game against a fellow Big Ten bottom dweller should not drive in the tens of thousands to the arena playing into Illinois’ favor. Penn State and Illinois both have point differentials of +3 but their home/away records will be the decider. Illinois is 1-5 on the road and Penn State is 9-4 at home.
Prediction: Penn State
8 PM Ohio State @ Iowa, ESPN2
Ohio State will head to Carver-Hawkeye Arena to play an equal Iowa. Both are averaging the same point differential, with Iowa scoring at 81 points per game but allowing 78 per game. Ohio State is only allowing 67 per game, but only scoring 73 a game. Carver-Hawkeye is easy to overlook in a conference with the Breslin Center, Assembly Hall, Mackey Arena, The Barn, the Kohl Center, and the Xfinity Center, but it is still one of the best places to play a weekend primetime game in the country.
Prediction: Iowa