The Ohio State Buckeyes spanked Indiana today, while Purdue crushed Michigan State. Their victories set up what should be an interesting final week of the Big Ten regular season.
The Buckeyes close at Penn State, on Tuesday night, and then finish at home against Wisconsin on Sunday. Purdue, in the meantime, hosts Illinois on Tuesday and then ends the season at Iowa on Saturday. Although there will be a Big Ten Tournament the following weekend, and the winner of that tournament will be deemed the Big Ten championship for purposes of the automatic NCAA Tournament bid, every true Big Ten fan knows that the regular season title is the more important one. There is a lot of pride involved in surviving the rugged life on the road in the Big Ten and winning enough away games to claim the regular season title.
This year, Ohio State, Purdue, and Wisconsin clearly are the class of the conference. Ohio State fans hoped that Purdue might stumble in East Lansing, but instead the Boilermakers drubbed the struggling Spartans. That win means the Buckeyes will have to win out to claim the regular season title, and Ohio State held up its end of the bargain today by clubbing the Hoosiers at Value City Arena. Indiana is a good example of a once-storied program that has fallen on hard times. Although the Hoosiers may bounce back next year, when they have a good recruiting class coming in, right now they just don’t belong, talent-wise, on the same floor as Ohio State, Purdue, or Wisconsin. They are cannon fodder, like the Washington Generals or the anonymous masked wrestler who gets trounced by Hulk Hogan in the run-up to Wrestlemania.
The game at Happy Valley Tuesday night will be a huge one for both teams. The Nittany Lions need a win to build their resume for an at-large NCAA bid, and the Buckeyes need the win to stay ahead of Purdue in the race for the regular season Big Ten crown.