This week BT Powerhouse staffers determine the odds of Ohio State missing the NCAA tournament, take their pick between conference bottom dwellers, and give their most underrated and overrated players in the conference. And of course, Super Bowl pick 'em.
1. What are the odds Ohio State misses the NCAA Tournament?
Jason Dorow - Unlikely but possible. The Buckeyes will probably lose their next two as they go to Wisconsin and Iowa, but there are still plenty of winnable games on their schedule.They have time to fix their offensive woes before getting some W's. Heading into the conference tournament, OSU should have at least 20 or 21 wins, in large part from a perfect non-conference schedule, and they will likely slip into the NCAA tournament.
Jeremy Michael Haynes - Things are going to get much worse for Ohio State before they get better, with road games against Wisconsin and the Iowa Hawkeyes coming up. But things will get better. Ohio State has talent, they're just limited offensively. They still have home games left that they should win and they'll also host Michigan and Michigan State in what will be two opportunities to earn a signature win.
Aaron Yorke - Missing the NCAA Tournament now appears to be more likely that not for Ohio State, but I think they can still sneak in with a .500 conference record thanks to their perfect non-conference run. With upcoming games at Wisconsin and at Iowa, there's a good chance that their slide continues, but there are still plenty of opportunities after that to pick up quality wins.
Mark Mowery - Very low. While they have looked awful the last 4 games or so, the games have still been competitive. They've only been blown out once (by Iowa) and almost won in East Lansing, one of the most difficult places to play in the conference. While the offense has been a horror show, they still have the talent and the defensive to be comfortably in the field come Selection Sunday. I'd say it's time for one of those "players only" meetings. They seem to be effective, right?
Thomas Beindit - Certainly not as crazy as Buckeye fans would like to believe right now. Ohio State clinging largely to two things right now: an undefeated non-conference season and a few average wins. With Wisconsin and Iowa coming up next, the time to get things rolling has to begin right now. Losing these two games would not knock them out by any means, but they have beaten no quality teams in the Big Ten yet. There's no way they make the tourney without at least beating a couple.
2. Take Your Pick: Nebraska, Illinois, or Penn State?
Jason Dorow - Terran Petteway has been on fire of recent, and I have to go with the hot hand. Nebraska is looking really good at home, picking up wins against Ohio State, Minnesota, and Indiana. You do not want to be going into Lincoln right now (or ever really). Penn State and Illinois rely on their guards for almost all their scoring, so they are going to be streaky. Give me Nebraska in the long run.
Jeremy Michael Haynes - Can I pick Northwestern? No? Then I'll take Penn State. D.J. Newbill and Tim Frazier form one of the Big Ten's best backcourts, and they've actually got some talent around the two guards with guys like Brandon Taylor, who poured in 19 against Penn State, and Ross Travis. It doesn't hurt that Penn State has a few winnable home games coming up against Purdue and Illinois.
Aaron Yorke - I think I would pick Nebraska to finish with the best conference record out of the three. Their quality play of late has been encouraging, and I think Terran Petteway will be good enough to make up for the loss of Deverall Biggs and keep the Huskers out of the conference cellar. Penn State can also avoid finishing last if it wins its home game versus Illinois on February 9. Despite beating the Lions soundly in early January, Illinois is the worst team in the Big Ten right now.
Chris Kay - Nebraska for me.. They have Petteway and are going to be tough at home. Michigan had a scare there earlier this season and have beaten Minnesota, Indiana, and Ohio State there. They'll struggle on the road, but I think Nebraska is the best of that bunch.
Mark Mowery - I never thought I'd say this, but I'll go with the Cornhuskers. Nobody wants to play in Lincoln right now and Terran Petteway has been a revelation the last few games. I trust Tim Miles in year two more so than Groce or Collins in year one.
Thomas Beindit - I will take Nebraska all day. I actually wrote an article about this team in the non-conference season and people didn't believe when I said they could make the NIT. They have been excellent at home and are getting close to locking up their first postseason appearance in quite a long time. Penn State did get a big win over Ohio State on the road, but we still cannot be too sure on the value of that one now and Illinois has completely fall apart. Have to go with Nebraska here.
3. Most Underrated player in the Big Ten?
Jason Dorow - Iowa plays so many guys that talent gets overlooked too often. Aaron White is putting together an incredible season. He's averaging 13.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in just 26.3 minutes per game. White is shooting 62.3 percent from the field (leads conference) and 85.2 percent from the free throw line (2nd in conference). Talk about efficiency! White's value to Iowa is not nearly recognized enough.
Jeremy Michael Haynes - Can a player on a top 25 team get too little ink? Aaron White has been one of the best players in not only the Big Ten, but the country. Yes, the athletic forward isn't a supremely skilled player, nor does he have the ability to create a ton of offense on his own, but White knows his strengths, sticks to them, and ends up having a larger impact on the game than his talent might suggest. White scores over 13 points per game on free throws, putbacks, and dunks and sports a .62% field goal percentage to prove it.
Aaron Yorke - For me it's a toss up between Tim Frazier and D.J. Newbill of Penn State. I'm going to go with Newbill because I didn't think he'd handle the ball as much as he has now that Frazier is healthy again. Frazier has continued to be a great table-setter, but Newbill is the straw that stirs the Penn State drink. The Lions need him to be on his game if they hope to win on a given night. Drew Crawford and Terran Petteway are also plenty underrated thanks to their presence on teams that don't attract a national audience.
Mark Mowery - How about Terran Petteway? I don't think I've seen his name in a single mainstream article this year and he currently ranks 8th in player efficiency rating in the conference while having the second highest usage percentage. He effects the game in so many ways for the Cornhuskers but does so quite efficiently. It doesn't help that his team only sports a record of 10-9 but I don't think anyone really wants to play Nebraska right now.
Thomas Beindit - This depends a lot on who is rating the players. On a national scale, it has to be Terran Petteway. I said this about a week ago, but he is really make a run for 1st team All-Big Ten. He might not be there quite yet, but what he has done for Nebraska has been huge. He is putting up huge numbers and helping the Cornhuskers to win some real games. If you're talking to someone that follows the Big Ten closely, they probably already know Petteway. In that case, I would go with Caris LeVert. Not because he is the greatest player, but people focus so much on Nik Stauskas that they miss the improvement he has undergone from last season. He is the most improved player in the Big Ten.
4. Most Overrated player in the Big Ten?
Jeremy Michael Haynes - I hate to pile on the guy when he can't be feeling too great lately, but Wooden Award candidate Aaron Craft hasn't been playing to his reputation for most of the season. DJ Newbill took on Aaron Craft in overtime and left Value City Arena with a road win over the Buckeyes and Craft has broken 10 points just twice in eight conference tilts. Ohio State's next two games, on the road against Wisconsin and Iowa, probably aren't what the doctor would prescribe for the ailing senior guard, unfortunately.
Aaron Yorke - I think everyone will pick Aaron Craft because of the way the media gushes over him even though he's turning the ball over too much this season and has trouble creating his own shot. He's still an elite defender and is good at setting up for his teammates, but Craft cannot carry his team on offense the way a star player should be able to. That's why Craft is not a star player despite being treated like one. Overrated player who is not Aaron Craft? I'd say Andre Hollins because his point totals make him seem like a great scorer even though his percentages aren't very good.
Mark Mowery - (Andre Hollins?!? Come on Aaron, 7th in offensive rating, 9th in offensive win shares!!!) I suppose I'll say Aaron Craft, though I would like to mention that A.J. Hammons could very easily dominate the conference night in and night out but just checks out mentally too often to truly be a difference maker for the Boilermakers.
Jason Dorow - The popular pick here certainly is Aaron Craft. While he doesn't belong on the Wooden Award watch list, Craft is still an outstanding player who is invaluable to Ohio State. Sam Dekker was supposed to be Wisconsin's leader this season and recently he has underperformed. Dekker averaged just over 10 points per game while 13-34 in losses to Indiana, Michigan, and Northwestern. He does not look like a star or even the go-to guy for Bo Ryan. Dekker is just like the entire Wisconsin team, overrated.
Thomas Beindit - This may be the most obvious answer out there. The most overrated player in the Big Ten is Aaron Craft. I have raved about his defense for years (tough for a Michigan fan to admit), but how he got on the Wooden Award list is beyond me. He is probably the best defensive player in the conference, but he has never been a good offensive player. He is decent at running at offense and passing the ball, but Ohio State is trying to use him as their primary option and the results have been, well, pretty terrible. Why the national media believes he belongs among the nation's elite right now makes no sense. Good player? Absolutely, but he doesn't even belong on the 1st team All-Big Ten right now.
5. Wild Card: Super Bowl Predictions?
Jason Dorow - Peyton Manning silences the haters and proves he has the clutch gene. The Broncos simply have too many receivers, and Richard Sherman can't guard all of them. Marshawn Lynch seems like he cannot handle the big stage, and Russell Wilson won't be able to get it done, just like in the 2012 Rose Bowl. Denver will get their offense going, even in the elements. Hopefully, the NFL elects to do more cold weather Super Bowls, the way the game was meant to be played. If anything, the weather will hurt the halftime show. Not even Beyonce could heat up the stadium during a half hour break.
Jeremy Michael Haynes - I like the Broncos. Peyton has struggled in cold weather games, which will be a factor during the Superbowl, but he has continued to grow as a player and I think he is going to have enough to best Seattle's defense. Seattle will end up exploiting Denver's defense more than their offense, which won't get it done for Russell Wilson.
Aaron Yorke - I think that Bruno Mars will shy away from singing "Gorilla" because of the national audience and the controversy that could ensure. The song is essentially about having sex. "Treasure" and "Locked Out of Heaven" seem like better, safer choices. Oh you mean about the actual game? I think Seattle will win because the good defense seems to have the advantage in his "offense vs. defense" games. Except when Peyton Manning beat the Bears in Super Bowl XLI. Oops. I still like Seattle because Russell Wilson is awesome and the Seahawks should win the trenches. Potroast be darned.
Chris Kay - Give me the Broncos in this one. The cold will not bother Peyton as he hasn't done bad in it lately, but it's the wind (if present) that will hurt him. Doesn't look like it'll be windy as of now.. Moreno is a great runner and they have Ball as well to run if they need it. Their screen game is great, WRs are great, and the defense seems like they're getting better(ish). Russell Wilson hasn't played well in about six weeks and all eyes are on that defense specifically Sherman. Good thing for Peyton is that he doesn't have to throw his way to be successful. Seattle is also a worse team on the road there's no doubt about that. They're still great, but they lose that home edge they typically have. Broncos win 27-14.
Mark Mowery - The Broncos win as Peyton throws for 4 TDs, quacks at Richard Sherman, and announces that instead of going to Disney World after the game, he's headed to Canton to pose for his bust they are already in the process of making.
Thomas Beindit - Probably go with the Seahawks here. Their defense should be able to get some pressure on Peyton and force him to get rid of the ball. Either way, I'm just hoping for a great halftime s----sorry can't finish that because Bruno Mars is performing. Well, let's hope for some great commercials.