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February 13, 2013

Breaking down the Big Ten race

The Wolverines' performance in Tuesday night loss at Michigan State was certainly disappointing, but it's not the end of the season.

With the end-of-the-road stretch coming up, who is in good position for a Big Ten title finish, and who has some serious work to do?
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Current Big Ten Standings (Feb. 12)
Team
B1G W-L
Pct.
Overall W-L
Pct.
1. Michigan State
10-2
.833
21-4
.840
2. Indiana
9-2
.818
21-3
.875
3. Wisconsin
8-3
.727
17-7
.708
4. Michigan
8-4
.667
21-4
.840
5. Ohio State
7-4
.636
17-6
.739
6. Minnesota
5-6
.455
17-7
.708
    Purde
5-6
.455
12-12
.500
8. Illinois
4-7
.364
17-8
.680
    Iowa
4-7
.364
15-9
.625
    Northwestern
4-7
.364
13-11
.542
11. Nebraska
3-8
.273
12-12
.500
12. Penn State
0-11
.000
8-15
.348



Let's take a closer look at the five teams who have a realistic shot at the title:

Michigan State

Wins Over RPI Top 50: Seven 67-64 over Kansas (No. 6); 74-70 over Boise State (No. 43); 59-56 over Ohio State (No. 23); 49-47 over Wisconsin (No. 33); 80-75 over Illinois (No. 25); 61-50 over Minnesota (No. 13); 75-52 over Michigan (No. 5)

Worst Loss: The Spartans opened the season with a 66-62 loss to Connecticut, who currently ranks No. 26 in the RPI standings.

Remaining Home Schedule: Feb. 19 vs. Indiana; March 7 vs. Wisconsin; March 10 vs. Northwestern.

Remaining Road Schedule: Feb. 16 at Nebraska; Feb. 24 at Ohio State; March 2 at Michigan.

Thoughts: The Spartans played very well against the Hoosiers at Assembly Hall and should be able to pull off the win Feb. 19 at the Breslin Center. That would be a huge victory for their Big Ten title hopes.

If Michigan State wins out at home, which is definitely doable, at least a share of the conference crown is almost assured, even with losses at Ohio State and Michigan. The Spartans' win last night definitely set them up for a banner.

Indiana

Wins Over RPI Top 50: Six 82-72 over Georgetown (No. 21); 83-59 over North Carolina (No. 36); 88-81 over Minnesota (No. 13); 75-70 over Michigan State (No. 7); 81-73 over Michigan (No. 5); 81-68 over Ohio State (No. 23).

Worst Loss: The Hoosiers lost at home, 65-59, at Wisconsin, who ranks No. 33 in the current RPI standings (Jan. 15).

Remaining Home Schedule: Feb. 13 vs. Nebraska; Feb. 16 vs. Purdue; March 2 vs. Iowa; March 5 vs. Ohio State.

Remaining Road Schedule: Feb. 19 at Michigan State; Feb. 26 at Minnesota; March 10 at Michigan.

Thoughts: The Hoosiers must protect home court. If they drop one of their four remaining home games, they will be fighting to earn a share of the Big Ten title.

Of all the remaining title contenders, Indiana has the toughest road ahead. Two road losses and an undefeated home slate would most likely mean at least a share of the Big Ten crown. But if the Spartans, Gophers and Wolverines all win home games vs. Indiana, the Hoosiers may be on the outside looking in.

Wisconsin

Wins Over RPI Top 50: Five 74-51 over Illinois (No. 25); 64-59 over Indiana (No. 11); 45-44 over Minnesota (No. 13); 74-68 over Illinois (No. 25); 65-62 over Michigan (No. 5).

Worst Loss: The Badgers lost 70-66 at Iowa, who ranks 91st in the RPI standings (Jan. 19).

Remaining Home Schedule: Feb. 17 vs. Ohio State; Feb. 26 vs. Nebraska; March 2 vs. Purdue.

Remaining Road Schedule: Feb. 14 at Minnesota; Feb. 20 at Northwestern; March 7 at Michigan State; March 10 at Penn State.

Thoughts: If the Badgers lose their next game - at Minnesota - their title hopes may be dashed. That would give them four losses, with games against Ohio State and Michigan State still on the docket.

Michigan

Wins Over RPI Top 50: Six 67-62 over Pitt (No. 29); 71-57 over Kansas State (No. 22); 79-72 over North Carolina State (No. 17); 83-75 over Minnesota (No. 13); 74-60 over Illinois (No. 25); 76-74 over Ohio State (No. 23).

Worst Loss: The Wolverines lost 65-62 at Wisconsin, which ranks No. 33 in the current RPI standings (Feb. 9).

Remaining Home Schedule: Feb. 17 vs. Penn State; Feb. 24 vs. Illinois; March 2 vs. Michigan State; March 10 vs. Indiana.

Remaining Road Schedule: Feb. 27 at Penn State; March 6 at Purdue

Thoughts: By going 1-3 in the last four games, Michigan gave itself very little room for error. Luckily, the schedule definitely lightens up from here.

Michigan has some time to regroup over the next two weeks, and should been Penn State (twice) and Illinois before things ramp up again. If the Wolverines want to finish off the regular season with a Big Ten title, they will likely have to win out - especially the two games they have remaining against fellow title chasers, vs. Michigan State and Indiana.

Ohio State

Wins Over RPI Top 50: Two 56-53 over Michigan (No. 5); 58-49 over Wisconsin (No. 33).

Worst Loss: The Buckeyes lost 74-55 at Illinois, who ranks No. 25 in the current RPI standings (Jan. 5).

Remaining Home Schedule: Feb. 14 vs. Northwestern; Feb. 20 vs. Minnesota; Feb. 24 vs. Michigan State; March 10 vs. Illinois.

Remaining Road Schedule: Feb. 17 at Wisconsin; Feb. 28 at Northwestern; March 5 at Indiana.

Thoughts: Another loss will likely drop the Buckeyes from the title chase, and there are definitely a few doozies still remaining. Ohio State may be on the outside looking in for the Big Ten regular season championship.


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