Josh & Mike from Big Ten Geeks are the RTC correspondents for the Big Ten Conference.
In a highly competitive Big Ten, Michigan State has now managed to achieve a bit of separation. It wasn’t easy – it took a closer-than-expected road win against Penn State and a comeback from a 9-point second half deficit against Illinois - but the Spartans remain the only squad without a conference defeat and are clearly the team to beat after Purdue‘s early stumbles.
Behind Michigan State, there are five teams with 2 conference losses, each with realistic tourney hopes. Minnesota got a huge victory at Wisconsin, a feat that will be difficult for other teams to match. The Gophers followed that up with a loss at Northwestern illustrating how tough it is to consistently win on the road in the Big Ten.
It appears that Ohio State‘s romps over Houston Baptist and Indiana have allowed the Buckeyes to right the ship – their defense, which had been MIA for several weeks, held Michigan to their 4th worst offensive efficiency of the season. The three teams that had better defensive games against Michigan? UCLA, Duke, and Illinois. An Ohio State squad playing defense like that can be a major factor in the Big Ten race.