It's the last Big Ten weekend of the year so let's get this one started off right. We're covering five games in two days all in order to find out the seeding for the Big Ten tournament. We might even make some progress towards the seeding of a certain larger tournament as well. Today we'll be ranking the games in order of excitement so you can prioritize your weekend activities accordingly.
1. Wisconsin Badgers at Ohio State Buckeyes -- Sunday at 4 PM EST on CBS: Not only is this an epic rematch of Wisconsin's come-from-behind upset in Madison on February 12th, but the Big Ten regular season title is up for grabs as well. The Buckeyes are back in the #1 spot in the polls and are ready to dish out the pain after shredding the Nittany Lions earlier in the week. Can Wisconsin pull the upset again? If they do, Purdue could get a share of the Big Ten title.
2. Michigan State Spartans at Michigan Wolverines -- Saturday at 2 PM EST on CBS: With NCAA dreams on the line, the Michigan vs. MSU rivalry has reached peak intensity. Michigan already stunned the Spartans in East Lansing back in January and the Wolvies would probably be a lock for the big dance had Ann Arbor's banks not stayed open late for Josh Gasser and company. However, right now Michigan are one of the last teams in the tourney and in must-win mode until further notice. Sparty is considered slightly more comfortable but could still get overlooked if they fail at Crisler Arena.
3. Purdue Boilermakers at Iowa Hawkeyes -- Saturday at 4 PM EST on ESPN: The main draw here is that Purdue is on a 7-game roll and one more victory will give them a legit shot at the Big Ten regular season crown. The Hawkeyes have only beaten MSU and Indiana in Big Ten play and would like to show their fans something a little more substantial heading into the offseason. In recent home matches, Iowa has gone to OT with Michigan and Wisconsin, so don't be shocked if this one gets hairy.
Hit the jump for the rest of the Big Ten weekend action as well as a Big Ten news update.
4. Penn State Nittany Lions at Minnesota Golden Gophers -- Sunday at 1 PM EST on Big Ten Network: Sure technically this game has more NCAA tourney implications than #3 on our list, but those implications are much feelber than they were a week ago. PSU blew their chance for a big victory when Jon Diebler lit them on fire last Tuesday. Now they face a Minnesota squad that is in meltdown mode. Beating the Gophers would mean a .500 conference record for the Lions and a better chance at an NCAA bid; the only problem is that with Minnesota playing so miserably, a win here might not even register on the selection committee's radar. For the Gophers, even if they win on senior day, it's doubtful their big early wins vs. North Carolina, WVU and Purdue would be enough to overcome what would be a 7-11 Big Ten record.
5. Indiana Hoosiers at Illinois Fighting Illini -- Saturday at Noon EST on Big Ten Network: Illinois have done nothing but underachieve since beating Wisconsin back on January 2nd. While they are still in the bracket as of today, this game versus the rival Hoosiers is a great opportunity to play themselves out of it. Indiana has lost 7 in a row but at least showed signs of life vs. Wisconsin on Wednesday. I'm hoping Gus Johnson is announcing this one, because I just love the BTN promo where he goes, "OOOOOOOOHHHHHHH OL-A-DI-PO!!!" as IU's Victor Oladipo hits a 50-footer. For more on this game, check out BT Powerhouse's in-depth preview.
Big Ten News Update
A downtown incident that happened last Saturday in State College is quickly turning into bad news for Nittany Lion fans. That's because when photos were released of the suspects, it became increasingly noticeable that a couple of dudes in the pictures look a lot like PSU freshmen Tre Bowman and Taran Buie. There's nothing official yet, but with Buie already on indefinite suspension, this could spell the end of his Penn State career. Football player Curtis Drake is also suspected of being involved.
Wisconsin also received some bad news today, as J.P. Tokoto, "one of the most hotly recruited players in the history of Wisconsin prep basketball," has decided to attend North Carolina in time for the 2012 season instead of the obvious local option. This has got to be a tough one for Badger fans to swallow. You'd think with all their recent success, they'd have a top Wisconsin recruit like Tokoto signed up no problem. UNC's Roy Williams had other ideas. "It felt like home to me," Tokoto said of Carolina, "Wisconsin's definitely home, but when I got down to North Carolina it felt like something different." Ouch. That was supposed to be the line he used after putting on the hat with the "W."
That's all for now. Stay tuned to BT Powerhouse for deeper individual previews of this weekend's action.