We are one step closer to the biggest College basketball event of the year and we can see the math is pretty simple now in the Big Ten. Powerhouse Wisconsin is up by three games with four left in the regular season. Second-place teams Maryland, Michigan State and Purdue need an unlikely collapse in Madison.
The challengers must make their moves with two weeks left on the schedule, starting with the 14th-ranked Terrapins. No. 5 Wisconsin (25-2, 13-1) travels to College Park on Tuesday night for the start of a tough, season-ending stretch. The Badgers also host the Spartans on Sunday before finishing up with trips to Minnesota and Ohio State.
They might be Big Ten rookies, but the team was used to playing — and winning — high-profile home games when it was in the ACC.
“I don’t think [the experience] really carries over,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “Obviously, we’re confident at home. But it should be an electric atmosphere and all that, it should be a fun night.”
It just might be the conference game of the regular season. The key, Turgeon said, is for the squad led by guards Melo Trimble and Dez Wells to get more contributions from the frontcourt. Containing Wisconsin’s frontcourt trio of Frank Kaminsky, Sam Dekker and Nigel Hayes will be crucial for the Terps.
The Boilermakers have won seven of eight to put themselves in position for a top-4 finish in the Big Ten, which would give them a double bye when the expanded conference tournament begins in a couple weeks.
Coach Matt Painter isn’t looking that far ahead. Besides, he noted, there is a potential downside to being one of the top four seeds, in which case those teams would start on Day 3, or Friday, of the five-day tournament.
“We haven’t talked about that. Obviously, it’s an advantage,” Painter said. “The concern for anyone who plays on Friday is that you’re playing someone who has already played in that venue, who has had success.”
Purdue might be one of the best-equipped squads to challenge Wisconsin in the tournament. Seven-foot center A.J. Hammons, who was named conference player of the week, could test the Badgers’ Kaminsky, a preseason All-American and inside-out threat.
MARYLAND: Hosts Wisconsin on Tuesday and Michigan on Saturday. At Rutgers on March 3 and Nebraska on March 8.
MICHIGAN STATE: Hosts Minnesota on Thursday. At Wisconsin on Sunday. Hosts Purdue on March 4. At Indiana on March 7.
PURDUE: Hosts Rutgers on Thursday. At Ohio State on Sunday and Michigan State on March 4. Hosts Illinois on March 7. source: ncaa.com
Be sure to check out these videos on the latest NCAA basketball action for the upcoming 2015 March Madness: http://www.sportingnews.com/ncaa-basketball/story/2015-01-12/2015-ncaa-tournament-selection-sunday-march-madness-key-dates-sites-games-tv
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