The Big Ten has been this years most impressive conference. After having only four teams earn bids to last years big dance, this year’s field could easily include 9 to 10 Big Ten teams.
Last year, the Big Ten began playing its’ conference games in December, with each team playing two Big Ten games before the new year. Here are the current Big Ten standings (As of 12/29/18).
#2 Michigan 2-0
#13 Ohio State 2-0
#23 Indiana 2-0
#8 Michigan State 2-0
#15 Wisconsin 2-0
#24 Iowa 0-2
Penn State 0-2
The Big Ten is going to be a gauntlet this season, and honestly it’s anyone’s title for the taking. The separation between 1-14 is minimal, which makes for a great Big Ten season. Here are the “Top” contenders for the regular season title.
How can you not start off this list with arguably the most impressive/surprising team in the nation? Jon Belein’s team has continued to ride off the highs from last years National Championship run and is one of the five remaining unbeaten teams. After losing Mo Wagner, Duncan Robinson and Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman, it has forced guys like Jordan Poole, Jon Teske, and freshman sensation Ignas Brazdeikis to step up and compliment Charles Matthews and Zavier Simpson. The Wolverines boast wins over Villanova (Road), Providence (Neutral), North Carolina and Purdue (Home). To top it off, they currently sit atop the Big Ten with wins over Purdue and Northwestern.
Tom Izzo’s squad is not the the typical Michigan State team we are used to, as they do not have that “star.” Cassius Winston is very close to that level and has done everything for this team so far. Izzo has also gotten some unexpected production from Kenny Goins and Kyle Ahrens. The Spartans per usual boast a solid non conference resume with wins over Florida, UCLA and Texas. They also sit 2-0 in the Big Ten with wins over Rutgers and Iowa.
Chris Holtmann’s team has been as good as anyone this season and has several quality non-conference wins to prove it. They went on the road and beat a solid Cincinnati team, won on the road at the Century Link Center against Creighton, and took care of an uninspired UCLA team on a neutral court. After losing Keita Bates-Diop and Kam Williams, the Buckeyes lack a go to scorer, but have gotten solid production from guys like Andre Wesson, Kyle Young and Luther Muhammad. The Buckeye’s resume looks good to get Chris Holtmann to back to back tournament appearances since arriving in Columbus.
Who will win the Big Ten in 2019?
Not much of a bold prediction here, but in a conference where 1-14 could be anyone, the most consistent team is going to hold serve. The Wolverines play suffocating defense, and can light you up from downtown any night. In a year where the majority of the Big Ten could hover around .500, I think Michigan wins the league by at least 2 games.