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 (9-0, 22-0) [ Last Projection: 1 ] - No surprise here, again. They are still undefeated in both conference and overall. They are the number one team in the country. These are all things you hear again and again. I think Ohio State will fall in a game or two coming up in their remaining Big Ten schedule, but I think they still win the Big Ten. They did struggle at Northwestern, but every team struggles now and then. We will see if they can rebound as they take on arch rival Michigan at home this week before traveling to 20th-ranked Minnesota. (Postseason Projection: NCAA Tournament)
(More projections after the jump)
2.) Purdue (7-2, 18-4) [ Last Projection: 2 ] - Purdue was embarrassed by Ohio State last week but they rebounded nicely at home with a win over a then-18th ranked Minnesota team. With that said, they are still the conference's second best team at this point. Purdue needs to get a win at Wisconsin this week to remain on pace with leader Ohio State. If they get that win, it will do wonders for their confidence as well as their outlook on the remaining part of their schedule. (Postseason Projection: NCAA Tournament)
3.) Wisconsin (5-3, 15-5) [ Last Projection: 3 ] - Wisconsin fell at Penn State last week, putting them a game behind Purdue and three games behind Ohio State. Ohio State, Purdue and Wisconsin are the only teams performing at their expectations or better that have a shot at winning the Big Ten title, at this point. Wisconsin has a huge home game against Purdue and one against Michigan State this week. They will need to win both of those if they are really going to be considered a threat for the Big Ten title. (Postseason Projection: NCAA Tournament)
4.) Illinois (4-4, 14-7) [ Last Projection: 4 ] - Illinois is losing it. They lost to Indiana last week. I haven't given up on this Illinois team yet. They haven't lost players, unlike MSU and Minnesota, they are just struggling right now. I see them getting back on track and competing at the end of the Big Ten season. They will finish fourth in the Big Ten though, if not tying for third. They have games against Penn State at home and Northwestern on the road this week. Both games are potential trap games for the Illini because of how they have been playing recently. Don't look past either team. Remember, Penn State beat you last time and Northwestern almost beat Ohio State at home without their best player. (Postseason Projection: NCAA Tournament)
5.) Minnesota (5-4, 16-5) [ Last Projection: 6 ] - Minnesota lost Al Nolen and Devoe Joesph, two blows to a team that was expected to contend for the title. They can't contend for the title in my eyes with the players they have left. They lost a Purdue this week, not a bad loss if you look at the numbers. They have games at Indiana, which could be interesting, IU coming off a win against Illinois and a one point loss to MSU on the road, also, they host number one Ohio State, a game where The Barn will be loud and rocking from every angle. (Postseason Projection: NCAA Tournament)
6.) Michigan State (5-4, 13-8) [ Last Projection: 5 ] - The mystery that is Michigan State. Final Four talent. Trouble with Lucious. Slowly falling farther and farther away from what they were expected to be. Michigan State lost to Michigan , their rival, at home this week. They then barely beat an Indiana team coming off a win against Illinois. The Breslin Center is no longer intimidating. It will be interesting to see how MSU does down the stretch. They could possibly end up behind Penn State. Who knows? The are at Iowa and at Wisconsin this week. Two tricky games for a tricky MSU team. (Postseason Projection: NCAA Tournament)
MIDDLE TIER- Teams that have a chance to stir up the Big Ten race and make it interesting.
7.) Penn State (5-4, 12-8) [ Last Projection: 7 ] - Penn State... yes... look below.. yes, that does say NCAA Tournament. I do see PSU making the tournament. They are on the bubble right now.. but I think they win at Illinois, getting the signature road win that they needed and they climb their way into the tournament. They upset Wisconsin this week, proving how dangerous they can be. This week, they face Illinois on the road as I stated earlier and a game at home against Michigan. (Postseason Projection: NCAA Tournament)
8.) Northwestern (3-7, 13-8) [ Last Projection: 8 ] - Northwestern surprised some with a one point loss to Ohio State at home, without their best player. Northwestern will end up in the NIT, they have already played their self out of the NCAA Tournament. This week they face Illinois this week at home. They will be looking for a big upset there after challenging Ohio State. (Postseason Projection: NIT)
9.) Michigan (3-6, 13-9) [ Last Projection: 9 ] - Michigan upset Michigan State on the road, which right now.. really doesn't say much. They will also end up in the NIT. Michigan plays a big game at Ohio State and then another big game at Penn State this week. Good luck in both of those, it looks to be a tough week for the Wolverines. (Postseason Projection: NIT)
LOWER TIER- Teams that just aren't there yet.
10.) Indiana (2-7, 11-11) [ Last Projection: 10 ] - Indiana upset Illinois at home and then almost upset MSU on the road.. is it Indiana getting better or Illinois and MSU just under-preforming? Probably the second choice. IU hosts Minnesota and Iowa this week.(Postseason Projection: No Postseason)
11.) Iowa (1-8, 8-13) [ Last Projection: 11 ] - Iowa hosts MSU this week, they could get the upset if they play like they sometimes can at home. They also travel to IU, which will be tougher for the Hawkeyes to get the win. (Postseason Projection: No Postseason)