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Week Eleven: BTP Game of the Week: Michigan at Nebraska

Michigan Look to Stay Hot in Lincoln

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Nebraska Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve been bullish on the Big Ten all season, so I really have no choice but to tell you to buy low and hope this is rock bottom. Other than Ohio State, all of the Big Ten’s surprises have been negative thus far. A few quick hitters:

· Michigan State almost lost to Rutgers at home a week after being ranked #1

· Minnesota lost two starters in a matter of days (though one probably shouldn’t have been playing to begin with)

· Maryland lost a starter and a rotation player in a matter of days

· Wisconsin became old-Northwestern and then Northwestern became old-Northwestern

· Illinois got the flu and the late game yips

That combination of shocking results, injuries and dubious excuses leaves the Big Ten as the worst “power 6” conference. Would any team from the Big Ten’s bloated midsection be favored to beat current last-place Big 12 teams Baylor and TCU on a neutral floor? Not right now. The league will be banking on a March surprise once again.

Game of the Week

- Michigan Wolverines at Nebraska Cornhuskers, 1/18/2018 9:00 PM ET, BTN

Ok admittedly this felt like a stretch to me too. But if you’re rightfully questioning how this could be the game of the week, go check the Big Ten schedule between 1/17 and 1/23. Their ain’t much to choose from!

While you’re at it, check Nebraska’s schedule. You’ll see that the Cornhuskers have a penchant for keeping things close, and have picked up enough decent victories to remain in the bubble conversation behind the consistent Isaac Copeland and the occasionally-brilliant but maddeningly-inconsistent Glynn Watson Jr.

John Beilein’s Wolverines are once again peaking at the right time, beating Maryland in thrilling fashion to move to 5-2 in league play. They’ll be in the mix for the title if they keep winning games like this.

Honorable Mention

- Indiana Hoosiers at Michigan State Spartans, 1/19/2018, 7:00 PM ET, FS1

Michigan State has struggled mightily over the last week-plus, but they get a week to prepare for a favorable matchup against Indiana. The Hoosiers will really miss De’Ron Davis inside. Likewise, this could be the night that Nick Ward gets his swagger back. After 18 turnovers against Michigan (16 of those by the starting five), the impetus remains on Michigan State’s guards to take care of the ball. One also has to think Miles Bridges will find another gear down the stretch.

- Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Ohio State Buckeyes, 1/20/2018 12:00 PM ET, BTN

The last time Minnesota was in New York, this happened

The Gophers looked so bad in their first few games without Amir Coffey and Reggie Lynch, Richard Pitino might have considered playing 3 on 5 because, um, how could that have been worse? They were thoroughly dominated by a reeling Northwestern team before Purdue blew the cover off the Gophers at home. A bounce back win at Penn State helped stem the tide, but Pitino and Minnesota have a lot left to prove.

In particular, the Gophers will need to figure out an answer for Keita Bates-Diop, which will likely involve Jordan Murphy expending a lot of energy on defense. Richard Pitino has his work cut out for him – it wasn’t that long ago that fans wanted him gone, and another embarrassing loss on the national stage would be extremely problematic. One would expect a better effort from what remains a talented roster.

Worst Game of the Week:

- Purdue Boilermakers at Iowa Hawkeyes, 1/20/2018 12:00 PM ET, ESPN

In a week filled with mediocre games its difficult to identify one that’s truly the worst. Maybe it isn’t fair to pick on Iowa a week after they picked up their first victory in last week’s “worst game,” but the way Purdue dismantled Minnesota would suggest a similar result this Saturday. To be even more precise, I would expect the Big Ten’ most experienced team to once again run out to an early lead, but unlike their game against Michigan (and unlike Illinois’ loss to the Hawkeyes), the Boilermakers will have no trouble putting Iowa away.

Season Stats:

Game of the Week Appearances by Team:

  • Iowa – 1
  • Maryland – 1
  • Michigan – 4
  • Michigan State – 4
  • Nebraska – 1
  • Northwestern – 1
  • Purdue – 2
  • Wisconsin – 1

Game of the Week Honorable Mention Appearances by Team:

  • Illinois – 1
  • Indiana – 3
  • Iowa – 1
  • Maryland – 3
  • Michigan – 1
  • Michigan State – 2
  • Minnesota – 5
  • Nebraska – 2
  • Northwestern – 1
  • Ohio State – 4
  • Penn State – 3
  • Purdue – 1
  • Wisconsin – 3

Total Appearances by Team:

  • Illinois – 1
  • Indiana – 2
  • Iowa – 2
  • Maryland – 4
  • Michigan – 5
  • Michigan State – 6
  • Minnesota – 5
  • Nebraska – 3
  • Northwestern – 2
  • Ohio State – 4
  • Penn State – 3
  • Purdue – 3
  • Wisconsin – 4

Worst Game Appearances by Team:

  • Illinois – 2
  • Iowa – 3
  • Michigan – 1
  • Michigan State – 1
  • Nebraska – 1
  • Northwestern – 1
  • Ohio State – 1
  • Purdue – 1
  • Rutgers – 1
  • Wisconsin – 2