Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Big Ten race is heating up!

Indiana (9-1) now has road wins over Ohio State, Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota... against one loss at Wisconsin. Concerns about our soft schedule are now moot, in my opinion - we're a legitimate contender for the B10 crown with the wins to prove it.

The other contenders are Purdue (10-1), Wisconsin (9-2), and Michigan State (8-2).

Working backwards, I don't think Michigan State has much of a chance. Their remaining schedule is brutal. The still play on the road at Indiana, Purdue, Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Illinois. The fact that they've already lost road games at Iowa and Penn State suggests that they won't win enough of those games to win the B10 title. Pomeroy predicts them to finish 10-6.

Wisconsin still has road games against Indiana, Ohio State, Illinois, and Northwestern, plus the MSU game at home. Finishing with one more loss would require a remarkable run of basketball... two losses is probably more likely. Pomeroy predicts them to finish 14-4. They've got an outside shot at the title, and if they beat Indiana on the road then they become a frontrunner.

Purdue has road games against Indiana, Ohio State, Michigan, and Northwestern, plus a home game against MSU. Given that they just won at Wisconsin, all those games are winnable, but like Wisconsin I think 1 more loss would be extremely impressive and 2 losses is probable. But that still leaves them at 15-3 in the B10 (which is also what Pomeroy predicts).

Indiana only has 3 road games left against Michigan State, Northwestern, and Penn State, by far the easiest road schedule of the contenders. It's the home games that are brutal for Indiana - Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Purdue all in a row next up, then two more home games against Ohio State and Minnesota. If Indiana holds home court it's hard to picture them not at least sharing the B10 title, but that's a big if. In addition to the MSU road game, I think there's another loss lurking in there somewhere. 15-3 is the most likely finish.

So, best guess at this point is tying with Purdue for the B10 title at 15-3 with Wisconsin one game behind at 14-4.

Who is the best bet to win the title? I have to say Purdue. They have the best win in the conference (at Wisconsin) and their only loss was by 3 at Michigan State. But their edge over Indiana at this point is very slight.

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