It’s basically decided. Anyone doing worse than Illinois has no shot. As I said previously? We still have seven tournament contenders. And yet…we only have five teams that are looking at the conference title.
Michigan State is bloodied, and there are four contenders breathing down their neck. Can they hold on? Yes. Suffice it to say they can.
Why? Sure, Purdue poses a problem without Kalin Lucas, even at Breslin. But after that we have Sparty facing Penn State twice, Indiana, and Michigan. That’s four wins. Ohio State comes to Breslin, and Purdue has a return match. Sparty could very well go 6-1. But 5-2 gets them to 14-4.
Homeristic tendencies aside? The Badgers have a shot to make run the table. With Al Nolen ineligible, traveling to the barn becomes easier. Northwestern struggles on the boards, and that’s at home. Not to say that Illinois doesn’t have the length to cause fits for Wisky, but suffice it to say that that the Badgers are looking at a 7-1 finish. Split versus Illinois, sweep Indiana, beat Iowa, Northwestern and Minnesota. So that is also a 14-4 finish.
Ohio State has two tough games as well to end the year. Purdue comes to Value City, and they travel to the Breslin. They also have two against Illinois. Indiana, Penn State, and Michigan vibe as gimmes. I see this as a 6-2 finish. But that means 13-5. It’s a little tougher of a road.
A lot tougher of a road belongs to Illinois. 4 games against Wisconsin and Ohio State. Add to that a game against Purdue, and there’s a distinct possibility they will lose all five of these games. They travel to Ann Arbor and get Minnesota at home. I’ll say they get three. Enough to get in the tournament, but 11-7 is strictly second echelon.
Purdue looks like they’ll have a say in the conference championship. Two versus Sparty, and I think they’ll get them both. But they have to travel to the Barn and Value City. Admittedly?That’s a strange scenario and they won’t go unscathed. But they’ll make the conference championship a triple triad.
It will also make the tournament fun.