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Week Fifteen: BTP Game of the Week: Ohio State at Michigan

Buckeyes Go on the Road to Lock Up Big Ten Title

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Last week in the Big Ten was a moderate loss for Purdue but a big win for just about everyone else. In particular, fans get an added dose of excitement as the now-conference leading Buckeyes face perhaps their toughest week of 2018. Road trips to State College and Ann Arbor will determine if Ohio State can claim the Big Ten title. Their four remaining games are significantly harder than those faced by Purdue or Michigan State, but given that they hold the tiebreaker over both other contenders, they’re now heavy favorites for the league crown.

Game of the Week:

- Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan Wolverines, 2/18/2018 1:00 PM ET, CBS

Its certainly indicative of this season that this is Ohio State’s first Game of the Week appearance. The Buckeyes’ performance relative to preseason and even mid-season expectations is downright shocking. Unbalanced scheduling has played a role here too, no doubt, but that will soon change as Ohio State looks primed for many more meaningful games in March.

The Wolverines remain something of enigma, though they’ve hung around the 20-25 range in the rankings nearly all conference season. They looked bad is a road loss to Northwestern a week ago, but we must remember that they were faced with the unenviable task of playing the re-motivated Wildcats twice in eight days. The Wolverines have perhaps the most difficult remaining schedule in the Big Ten. Their final four games should help us understand if this year’s team is more like 2016 Michigan or 2017 Michigan.

Honorable Mention:

- Ohio State Buckeyes at Penn State Nittany Lions, 2/15/2018 8:00 PM ET, BTN

Before their critical weekend showdown with Michigan, Ohio State will play an equally tough game at Penn State. Though their record and overall efficiency isn’t as high as the Wolverines, the Nittany Lions are a team peaking at the right time. Besides taking care of lesser opponents, they handed the Buckeyes their only conference loss in Columbus, and followed that up by nearly beating Michigan State in East Lansing. Penn State is still desperate for a couple more resume-building wins, though Ohio State will be especially motivated to avoid the season sweep and maintain their lead in the standings.

- Michigan State Spartans at Northwestern Wildcats, 2/17/2018 2:00 PM ET, FOX

I hesitate to say that Northwestern is “back” to tournament form after their loss to Maryland that saw second-leading scorer Bryant McIntosh get shut out. They have, however, been tough at home, most notably beating Michigan and taking Ohio State to the brink.

Michigan State is rolling even as they’ve been on the road a lot lately (a trend which will continue: the Spartans play 5 of their last 7 games on the road). Despite the travelling, this is the toughest game left on a remaining schedule filled with doormats – anything less than stretching out their regular season winning streak to 12 will be a disappointment.

Worst Game of the Week:

- Minnesota Golden Gophers at Wisconsin Badgers, 2/19/2018 9:00 PM ET, FS1

At this point in the season, I’ve narrowed the worst-game criteria to include “meaningless” games between non-tournament teams. There are still plenty to choose from, but this clunker stands out.

Did you know Wisconsin last beat a non-Illinois team on January 2nd? Even still, they will likely be favored in this game. That says as much about Richard Pitino’s squad as it does the Badgers.

Season Stats:

Game of the Week Appearances by Team:

  • Iowa – 1
  • Maryland – 2
  • Michigan – 6
  • Michigan State – 5
  • Nebraska – 1
  • Northwestern – 1
  • Ohio State – 1
  • Purdue – 5
  • Wisconsin – 1

Game of the Week Honorable Mention Appearances by Team:

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

Total Appearances by Team:

  • Illinois – 1
  • Indiana – 3
  • Iowa – 2
  • Maryland – 8
  • Michigan – 7
  • Michigan State – 9
  • Minnesota – 6
  • Nebraska – 6
  • Northwestern – 4
  • Ohio State – 7
  • Penn State – 4
  • Purdue – 7
  • Wisconsin – 5

Worst Game Appearances by Team:

  • Illinois – 4
  • Indiana – 1
  • Iowa – 3
  • Michigan – 1
  • Michigan State – 1
  • Minnesota – 1
  • Nebraska – 1
  • Northwestern – 1
  • Ohio State – 1
  • Purdue – 1
  • Rutgers – 3
  • Wisconsin – 4