The 2018-2019 college basketball season is in full swing, and it appears to be yet another strong season for the Big Ten. At the moment the conference has eleven teams that could make the tournament. Let’s look at them all.
The two teams with the most work to do are Northwestern and Purdue. After a strong 9-2 start to their season, Northwestern has fallen during conference play. Of their first four games in Big Ten Conference play, the Wildcats have lost to Indiana, Michigan, and Michigan State. Yes, those are three acceptable losses, but those defeats can’t keep piling up. If the Wildcats want to get back to the tournament, they must turn a few of those tough games into wins. With Iowa, Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin all coming up, they will have have a good chance to do that. Meanwhile,Purdue has begun turning it around in Big Ten play, winning two of their first three, including a solid 86-70 win over Iowa.
Iowa and Nebraska are in danger of squandering great starts to their season. Nebraska started 10-1 and Iowa started 11-0. Both teams are 1-3 so far in conference play. In fact, they played each other on Sunday and it was Iowa who came away victorious with a 93-84 win. The best player for the Hawkeyes, Jordan Bohannon scored a season-high 25 points to lead the way.
As we move up the Big Ten standings, we reach a trio of very solid teams- Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Maryland. The Minnesota Gophers are currently 12-2 including 2-1 in conference playand are riding a six-game winning streak. During this streak, the team has beaten Nebraska, Arkansas State, North Florida, North Carolina A&T, Mt. St. Mary’s, and most recently Wisconsin. The Gophers have a chance to keep that streak going with upcoming games against Maryland, Rutgers, Illinois, and Penn State. For Wisconsin, it appears as if, at least for the moment, they have shaken off a disastrous2017-2018 season. So far, Bucky Badger is off to an 11-4 start, including 3-1 in Big Ten Conference play. The Maryland Terrapins and Indiana Hoosiers are both sitting at 12-3 and 3-1 to open up conference play themselves.
Finally, we have the top three teams, Ohio State, Michigan State, and Michigan, in a position that is very much like last season. Ohio State, currently ranked 14th in the country, are 12-2 to begin the season, and 2-1 in conference play. Looking at the Buckeyes resume, they really don’t have any impressive wins over teams out of the conference, so they are going to have to play very well in their coming games. With all that being said, the Big Ten conference really comes down to two teams right now, Michigan and Michigan State. The Spartans are 13-2, including 4-0 in conference play, and their only two losses are to number one ranked Kansas and Louisville. Meanwhile Michigan is 15-0 on the season, already have wins over Villanova and North Carolina. However, the Wolverines have some tough road games coming up against Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio State, and Iowa, so the question being asked right now is who’s it going to be? Who is going to end the Wolverines dreams of an unbeaten season? All four of those teams are ideal candidates.