CHAMPAIGN IL - JANUARY 22: Illinois Fighting Illini fans try to distract a free throw attempt by Jared Sullinger #0 of the Ohio State Buckeyes at Assembly Hall on January 22 2011 in Champaign Illinois. Ohio State won 73-68. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Predictions of how the Big Ten will finish based off of the performances of the teams, week to week.
TOP TIER- Teams that will make an big impact and have the best chances of winning the Big Ten title.
1.) Ohio State (7-0, 20-0) [ Last Projection: 1 ] - Ohio State is still number one both in the Big Ten and in the national rankings. They remain a very dangerous team, a team that is capable of running away with the Big Ten title. They were behind by eight at Illinois before going on a run to go ahead by eight and eventually win in Champaign. Ohio State should be tested again as tomorrow, they welcome Purdue to Value City Arena. That proves to be a very very important game for the conference race. If Purdue wins, they will be tied at the top with Purdue, and everyone else in the conference catches up one game. If Ohio State wins, they will have a two game lead in the Big Ten and will probably end up with the regular season crown. This week will say a lot about the Buckeyes. (Postseason Projection: NCAA Tournament)
(More projections after the jump)
MIDDLE TIER- Teams that have a chance to stir up the Big Ten race and make it interesting.
7.) Penn State (3-4, 10-8) [ Last Projection: 9 ] - Penn State is a dangerous team that is capable of upsetting really any top tier Big Ten team at this point, unfortunately, their non-conference schedule was not very nice to them, as they lost some games that they shouldn't have and some games that I really don't even know who the team is. That is what I think will keep them from the NCAA Tournament, unless they get some upsets on the road. This Penn State squad will be headed to the NIT, but at least there will be a postseason. Who knows? 2011 NIT Champions? Sounds good to me. They face Wisconsin at home this week. They must win that one to stay on the bubble. (Postseason Projection: NIT)
8.) Northwestern (3-5, 13-6) [ Last Projection: 7 ] - Northwestern is struggling, but I don't think they belong in the lower tier just yet, they can still turn things around, and finish strong and go to the NIT. They face Minnesota and OSU this week. Getting one of those wins would be good for them, they have more of a chance in the Minnesota game, but the Ohio State game would look great on their resume. (Postseason Projection: NIT)
LOWER TIER- Teams that just aren't there yet.
9.) Michigan (1-5, 11-8) [ Last Projection: 8 ] - Michigan has hit a wall and fell into the lower tier of the Big Ten, where they were projected to be at the beginning of the season. Ninth in the Big Ten sounds right. Indiana has already beat them, but with Indiana recent injury problems. I see Michigan finishing in front of Michigan. They face MSU and Iowa this week. (Postseason Projection: No Postseason)
10.) Indiana (1-6, 10-10) [ Last Projection: 11 ] - Indiana has has some injury issues and I don't see them doing much in the Big Ten, they are obviously still rebuilding. They face Illinois and MSU this week, tough tough week. But then again, every week is tough in the Big Ten. (Postseason Projection: No Postseason)
11.) Iowa (1-6, 8-11) [ Last Projection: 10 ] - Iowa got its first Big Ten win against Indiana last week. Good step for them, but I think IU finishes just above them. They play PSU and Michig (Postseason Projection: No Postseason)