The Runner Sports

Is The Big Ten Purdue’s League To Win?

Following Wisconsin’s 64-58 loss to Michigan on the road Thursday night, things got a lot more interesting in the Big Ten. Now tied on top of the standings with Maryland and Purdue, Wisconsin no longer looks like the front-runner to win. The way things are playing out, it looks like Purdue has the best chance of winning the conference.

Purdue already controls the head-to-head over the Badgers, and lucky for the Boilermakers, they won’t have to play in Madison this season. With five games remaining for each team, things could go a number of ways. Purdue still has tricky road games against Northwestern and Michigan. The Boilermakers also have a road game against Penn State (which has proved to be tough this year) and home games against Indiana and Michigan State. Wisconsin has seemingly manageable home games against Maryland, Iowa, and Minnesota, but the Badgers also have to face Ohio State and Michigan State on the road.

KenPom projects that both teams finish the season 4-1 in their last five games, which seems reasonable, to say the least. Purdue probably won’t win on the road against Michigan and on the road against Northwestern. The Boilermakers are likely to lose at least one of those games (I’m thinking it’s going to be against the Wolverines). Wisconsin’s finish to the regular season seems a tad bit easier, but likewise, I don’t see the Badgers escaping without a loss. With a home game against Maryland and road games against Ohio State and Michigan State looming, it seems the Badgers will probably drop one of those games.

A tiebreaker would give the league to Purdue who owns the head-to-head, and given the remaining schedules and the way these two programs have been playing, I’d give Purdue the nod right now. Of course, a lot can happen, and you can’t count out Maryland just yet either. I’d think that Wisconsin should handle the Terrapins at home this weekend, but if Maryland finds a way to pull the upset, that makes things incredibly more interesting. All in all, I don’t think any of us expected to have a race this close at the end of the season. It seemed like Wisconsin’s league to win, but after a surprising home loss to Northwestern and a follow-up loss to Michigan, it’s now anyone’s league.