USA TODAY Sports
With Selection Sunday just a month away, now is the time for teams to start playing their best basketball of the season to leave a lasting impression in the selection committee's head.
Ohio State and Minnesota are two teams that are sliding in the competitive Big Ten, while Iowa and Illinois have put together winning streaks to try and earn a bid into the 68-team tournament. This is the time of year when you hear a lot about the RPI as a strong RPI could be enough to punch a team's tournament bid or a weak RPI could keep a team at home in March. CBS has a easy way to help track your team's RPI and show how each win or loss can effect RPI. That tool could get quite the workout if your team is sitting on the bubble going into Selection Sunday.
#2 Duke (22-3, 9-3): WIN v. North Carolina (73-68), LOSS @ Maryland (83-81): On Wednesday night the Blue Devils gave Mike Krzyzewski quite the gift on his 66th birthday with a win over archrival North Carolina. The Tar Heels jumped out to a early lead and held it for the entire first half and for the first 6 minutes of the second half. Mason Plumlee scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the win against the Tar Heels, but struggled mightily in the upset by the Terrapins. Plumlee was only able to score a season-low 4 points against Maryland, as Duke couldn't take advantage of the countless Maryland turnovers. Even with 26 turnovers, the future Big Ten member was able to down Duke on a pair of Seth Allen free throws with 2.8 seconds left. This week brings games against the ACC's basement dwellers for Duke. Thursday night Duke heads to Blacksburg to face Virginia Tech before coming home for a Sunday afternoon matchup against Boston College.
#14 Kansas (21-4, 9-3): WIN v. #13 Kansas State (83-62), WIN v. Texas (73-47): The recent 3-game losing skid by Kansas had allowed for Kansas State to move into the top spot in the Big 12 standings. On Monday night, Kansas made sure that their rival's stay at the top was a short one with a dominate win over the Wildcats. Ben McLemore hit six 3-pointers and finished with 30 points on his 20th birthday while Jeff Withey broke Greg Ostertag's school record for blocks in a career. Saturday night's romp of Texas saw Withey add to his accolades by setting the Big 12 record for blocks in a career that Chris Mihm previously held. The Kansas defense smothered Texas in the blowout, holding them to 22 percent shooting from the field. Kansas will have revenge on their mind this week as they trying and avenge losses to Oklahoma State in Stillwater on Wednesday before coming back home to host TCU on Saturday.
Nebraska (12-14, 3-10): LOSS @ #1 Indiana (76-47), LOSS v. #8 Michigan State (73-64): The odds were stacked against Nebraska last week as they faced off against the #1 and #8 teams in the country. The first half of the game against the Hoosiers saw Nebraska try and slow the pace to keep within shouting distance of Indiana, but the second half saw Indiana pull away from Nebraska. A return home to Lincoln to face the Spartans saw the Cornhuskers have a similar problem as they did in the Indiana game. Nebraska was a close as 41-40 with 14 minutes left in the 2nd half but a 20-6 Michigan State run erased any doubt. Dylan Talley scored 28 points in the losing effort for Nebraska. The Cornhuskers only have one game this week as Iowa visits Lincoln on Thursday night.
Illinois (19-8, 6-7): WIN v. Purdue (79-59), WIN @Northwestern (62-41): After losing seven of nine games to open Big Ten play, Illinois is suddenly hot, winning their last four games. The Illini met little resistance from Purdue and Northwestern, leading both games at halftime by 14 points. Illinois scored the first 16 points of the second half, and led Northwestern at one point by a 45-15 score. Senior D.J. Richardson led Illinois in scoring in both games, scoring 18 points in each of the routs last week. John Groce's squad will try to keep their winning streak going on Thursday when Penn State travels to Champaign before a tough road test against Michigan awaits Illinois on Sunday.
Purdue (12-14, 5-8): LOSS @ Illinois (79-59), LOSS @ #1 Indiana (83-55): Last week was a week that Matt Painter probably hopes that his team forgets about quickly, as suffered two blowout losses. Painter didn't stick around to see the ending of the Illinois game, getting ejected for arguing with just over 8 minutes to play in the game. The Boilermakers managed to keep it within 30 points this time, after losing to Indiana by 37 points in West Lafayette at the end of January. Purdue has now lost five of their last six games with a home game against Northwestern on Sunday next on the horizon.
#4 Michigan (22-4, 9-4): LOSS @ #8 Michigan State (75-52), WIN v. Penn State (79-71): Tuesday night's lopsided loss to Michigan State gave Michigan their third loss in four games after being ranked No.1 earlier this month. The Wolverines played their worst game of the season and never led in the game. The only real offense Michigan had came from Trey Burke, who had 18 points in the game. Tim Hardaway Jr really struggled against the Spartans, and was hit only 1 of the 11 shots he attempted. Michigan returned to the win column on Sunday, holding off a pesky Penn State squad in Ann Arbor. Burke continued to lead the Wolverines, putting in a season-high 29 points, while Glenn Robinson III tied a career-high with 21 points. Michigan will try and quiet a surging Illinois at Crisler Arena on Sunday.
#8 Michigan State (22-4, 11-2): WIN v. #4 Michigan State (75-52), WIN v. Nebraska (73-64): With football coaches Brady Hoke and Mark D'Antonio in the crowd at the Breslin Center, Michigan State dominated Michigan from start to finish on Tuesday night. Tom Izzo had at least four players score in double figures as the Spartans held the Wolverines to a season-low in points. Izzo was nervous about the Nebraska game being a trap game but his team was up to the test and pulled away from the Cornhuskers in Lincoln on Saturday night. Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne each registered double-doubles against Nebraska, as the Spartans outrebounded the Cornhuskers 42-24. A Tuesday night showdown in East Lansing pits Michigan State against Indiana for the outright lead in the Big Ten before the Spartans visit Columbus on Sunday afternoon.
Iowa (17-9, 6-7): WIN @ Penn State (74-72), WIN v. Minnesota (72-51): Iowa used a big game from Devyn Marble to keep Penn State winless in Big Ten play in Happy Valley on Thursday night. Marble finished the game with 22 points as the Hawkeyes had a hard time putting away Penn State. Iowa led by at least 10 points at a couple different points of the game but the Nittany Lions didn't go away quietly. The Hawkeyes didn't have quite as much of a problem putting away Minnesota on Sunday afternoon. Minnesota jumped out in front of Iowa 21-5 in the first half, but Iowa used a 37-10 to take a 42-31 lead in the second half. Aaron White and Marble had 15 points each for the Hawkeyes in the win versus Minnesota. Iowa has now won three straight games and will look to build on that this week when they go to Nebraska on Thursday night.
Penn State (8-17, 0-13): LOSS v. Iowa (74-72), LOSS @ #4 Michigan (79-71): Last week saw Penn State come close to earning their first win in conference play, but the Nittany Lions didn't have quite enough to finish the job. Penn State hit eight 3-pointers, which was a season-high in conference play, and were led in scoring by D.J. Newbill with 26 points. Sunday's game at Michigan saw Penn State keep the score a lot closer than many thought they would. Penn State held a lead until right before halftime on Sunday, and hung tough with Michigan for most of the second half before the Wolverines created a little breathing room towards the end of the game. The next shot for Penn State to gain their first conference win will by on Thursday at Illinois.
#20 Wisconsin (18-8, 9-4): LOSS @ Minnesota (58-53 OT), WIN v. #13 Ohio State (71-49): Wisconsin had their chances to close out Minnesota on Thursday night, but couldn't take advantages of the opportunities that they had. Mike Bruesewitz turned the basketball over on an in-bounds play with 22 seconds to go to allow the Golden Gophers to tie the basketball game. At one point in the second half and overtime Wisconsin was scoreless for 8:48 and Ryan Evans missed five free throws during that stretch. The Badgers recovered pretty quickly as they left little in doubt when they returned home to beat down on the Buckeyes on Sunday afternoon. Early in the first half the Badgers went on an 18-0 run and they never let the Buckeyes get within double digits the rest of the game. Wisconsin is currently tied for third in the Big Ten standings with Michigan and this week travels to Evanston to face Northwestern on Wednesday.
#1 Indiana (22-3, 11-2): WIN v. Nebraska (76-47), WIN v. Purdue (83-55): After holding onto the No.1 ranking even with the loss to Illinois, the Hoosiers left little doubt that they should be on top of the rankings with two blowout wins last week. Cody Zeller faced some foul trouble against Nebraska and played a season-low 18 minutes but still paced the Hoosiers with 16 points against Nebraska. Zeller added 19 points against Purdue, and Will Sheehey was 9-9 from the field to score a season-high 22 points for Indiana. Indiana has owned Purdue this season, becoming the first Hoosier team to beat Purdue twice in the same season by at least 20 points. The lone game for Indiana this week is a big one, as they travel to Michigan State to battle for first place in the Big Ten.
Northwestern (13-13, 4-9): LOSS @ #13 Ohio State (69-59), LOSS @ Illinois (62-41): Thursday night Northwestern made Buckeye fans a little uneasy by hanging tough with the Buckeyes for most of the game, hitting seemingly every 3-pointer that they threw up. The short-handed Wildcats managed to hit 11 3-pointers before the Buckeyes used a late run to close out the game. Alex Olah returned from Northwestern against Illinois but it didn't make a difference as the Wildcats were blown out by the Illini pretty early. Northwestern only hit 25% of their shots and trailed by as many as 30 points at one point in the game. Northwestern is one of the few Big Ten teams with two games this week, when they host Wisconsin on Wednesday before traveling to Purdue on Sunday.
Minnesota (18-8, 6-7): WIN v. #20 Wisconsin (58-53 OT), LOSS @ Iowa (72-51): Since starting Big Ten play 3-0, Minnesota has now lost seven of their last ten conference games this season. The Golden Gophers need overtime to down Wisconsin, but a Andre Hollins 3-pointer in OT put Minnesota ahead for good on Thursday night. Hollins finished the game with 21 points, but Minnesota is still having problems scoring. Over the past six games the Golden Gophers have only broken the 60 point barrier twice. This held true on Sunday against Iowa, as Minnesota jumped out to an early lead but only scored 10 points in a 20 minute span to allow the Hawkeyes to catch-up and then pull away from the Gophers. Another defensive battle figures to be on tap this week when Minnesota comes into Columbus on Wednesday night.