A top tier has emerged in the Big Ten men’s basketball hierarchy.
Nearing the end of January, it’s becoming increasingly clear that one of Purdue, Wisconsin or Illinois will walk away with at least a share of the league title. Of the three, Illinois can afford the least mistakes after a shaky week.
Meanwhile, around the bottom, teams are seeking anything to add onto as resume as March hopes rapidly fade.
Let’s get into Tuesday’s games:
Game of the Day
- Time/TV: 9 p.m. on Peacock
- KenPom Spread: Spartans by 11
Both of the mitten state’s men’s hoops programs are in differing states of disarray.
For Michigan, the program itself feels like it’s teetering on the edge as the Wolverines sink to the very bottom of the league. There will be no Dug McDaniel at the Breslin Center due to his road games-only suspension.
This is the kind of season that gets a coach fired even without factoring in the off-court matters that continue to plague Juwan Howard. It’s a job to watch.
For Michigan State, the season can’t be called anything but a tremendous disappointment. The Spartans were a handful of plays away from being in the Elite Eight last year and have followed up that run with one of the worst seasons under Izzo in memory.
Barring a miracle finish, his run as Mr. March might be over.
Both programs are here do to failures in roster construction. Michigan lacks enough reliable ball-handlers while Michigan State elected to stick with a deeply flawed frontcourt instead of seeking better options in the portal.
Does Izzo want to keep doing this?
But they still have to play a game.
- Pick: Michigan State
- Time/TV: 7 p.m. on BTN
- KenPom Spread: Hawkeyes by 2
Iowa and Indiana fins themselves in similar spots
Both lost talent to the NBA and both are in the middle of down years as a result. Both have promising young frontcourt players to build around for the future and a good deal of experience at guard.
Difference being that you probably trust the Hawkeyes’ backcourt (led by Indiana native Tony Perkins, who held no offer from either Indiana nor Purdue by the way) more than the Hoosiers’.
Iowa won this matchup in Assembly Hall in dominant fashion last year. Can they repeat that effort without guys like Kris Murray?
- Pick: Iowa
- Time/TV: 7 p.m. on Peacock
- KenPom Spread: Illini by 4
Both of these teams have a good amount to lose.
- Coming off a shaky stretch, need a statement win to get back on track
- A loss likely keeps them out of conference title contention
For Ohio State
- Chris Holtmann’s job
The Buckeyes have done an inexcusable amount of losing for the way they’ve recruited under Chris Holtmann. All that talent should lead to conference title contention, not existing on the bubble or, even worse. being an afterthought.
Ohio State has won one of its last six after a 12-2 start to the season. It evokes 2018-19 Indiana (the Romeo Langford team) in its collapse. There’s a good enough backcourt to win games they just... haven’t done that.
Holtmann needs to figure this out now or he’ll be somewhere else in March.
- Pick: Illinois