1. Michigan State (22-5, 11-3 Big Ten) —The Spartans picked up two big road wins in the past week. After earning a tough win in Madison over Wisconsin on Thursday, Sparty used a strong second half to beat Purdue on Sunday. And with Ohio State falling to Michigan on Saturday, MSU is now alone in first place in the Big Ten standings.
2. Michigan (22-7, 10-4) —If you go to the state of Michigan in the Big Ten, don’t expect to win. Michigan and Michigan State are a combined 31-0 in their own gyms this season. The Wolverines latest victim in Crisler Arena was their arch rival, Ohio State, as Michigan slipped past the Buckeyes at home 56-51 on Saturday night.
3. Ohio State (22-5, 10-4) — After falling to Michigan, the Buckeyes are now a game back of Michigan State for first-place. The good news for the Buckeyes: they get to play Michigan State again on March 4th, bad news: that game is in East Lansing.
4. Wisconsin (20-7, 9-5) — The Badgers couldn’t beat Michigan State in the Kohl Center on Thursday and now they’ll have to hope for other teams at the top will lose if they want even a share of the Big Ten title.
5. Indiana (20-7, 8-7) — Though the Hoosiers don’t have a chance of winning the Big Ten crown, their seeding for the NCAA tournament took a hit on Sunday when they lost 78-66 to Iowa. IU still has a chance to improve its seeding with a game against Michigan State in Bloomington still on its schedule.
6. Northwestern (16-10, 6-8) — There are four games left on Northwestern’s regular season schedule. If the Wildcats can win three of them, they’ll probably make it to the Big Dance. Northwestern can’t avoid letdowns on the road at Penn State or Iowa and it will have a chance to pick up a big home win against either Michigan or Ohio State.
7. Purdue (17-10, 7-7) — The biggest news for the Boliermakers this week came off the court. After an incident at a nightclub early Friday morning, junior guard Kelsey Barlow (8.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg) was dismissed from the team and junior guard D.J. Byrd (8.0 ppg, 44.8 3-pt. %) was suspended from the team. Despite losing two key members of its team, Purdue can still crack the field of 68, especially if it can get a resume-building win against either Michigan or Indiana down the stretch.
8. Iowa (14-13, 6-8) — After falling to Penn State in State College on Thursday, the Hawkeyes surprised Indiana on Sunday in Iowa City. Iowa’s six Big Ten wins are more than many expected, but the team has struggled on the road lately and it hasn’t won a game away from Carver-Hawkeye Arena since Jan. 4.
9. Minnesota (17-10, 5-9) — After the Gophers’ 0-4 start to Big Ten play, they won five of their next seven games. But Tubby Smith and company have lost their last three and their schedule is not about to get any easier, Minnesota’s next three games are all against ranked opponents (vs. Michigan State, vs. Indiana, @ Wisconsin), and those games should make or break its NCAA tournament hopes.
10. Illinois (16-11, 5-9) — The Illini are reeling. Things went from bad to worse for Illinois in its 80-57 loss to Nebraska on Saturday. It was the Illini’s fifth straight loss and their eighth L in nine games. If this team can’t make a surge down the stretch (and it doesn’t look like it will), Bruce Weber could be out of a job.
11. Penn State (12-16, 4-11) — After rare back-to-back wins, the Nittany Lions ran into a hot shooting Wisconsin team in Madison and despite a spirited run, lost by 10 to the Badgers. Penn State will have a chance to play spoiler to some bubble teams in the final weeks of the season with Northwestern visiting the Jordan Center on Saturday and a road trip to West Lafayette for the Lions next week.
12. Nebraska (12-13, 4-10) —Bo Spencer is quietly putting a pretty nice season in Lincoln. The senior guard is averaging 15.5 points per game, good for seventh in the conference, and he also dropped 27 in the Huskers’ big win over Illinois on Saturday.