As we head into the final week, the Spartans have a share of the Big Ten regular season title all locked up – thanks to a rare home loss by Ohio State to Wisconsin on Sunday.
Bad loss. The Buckeyes desperately needed this one, and they just didn’t get it done.
But it was far from the worst loss in conference play the last two months. Here are eight others (and you can vote for the worst at the end of the post):
Nebraska 70, Indiana 69 (in Lincoln); Minnesota 77, Indiana 74 (in Bloomington)
Indiana entered Jan. 12 with a 15-1 record and ranked No. 7 in the nation. Six days later, the Hoosiers were 15-4 and effectively out of the Big Ten title hunt – due in large part to two egregiously bad losses.
Against the Gophers, the Hoosiers gave up 16 offensive rebounds, turned the ball over 15 times and were never a real threat to win the game despite the close final score. This was on the same floor where the Hoosiers had beaten No. 1 Kentucky and No. 2 Ohio State the month before.
Six days later (with a 17-point loss in Columbus in between), it got worse. The Hoosiers let Nebraska hang around and hang around and hang around until finally the Cornhuskers won as Indiana’s last-ditch shot fell short.
Indiana rebounded to win seven of the next 10 games to all but guarantee an NCAA tournament bid – and the fifth or sixth seed in the Big Ten tournament.
Illinois 79, Ohio State 74 (in Champaign)
Like the loss Sunday to the Badgers, this is another one the Buckeyes wish they could have back. The Illini were flying high at the time – and never higher than this game, when Brandon Paul dropped 43 points on Ohio State.
It was the second loss in the first five Big Ten games for the Buckeyes, who were prohibitive favorites to win the conference. It also left them with absolutely no room for error in a difficult conference schedule that later included losses to Michigan State, Michigan and, of course, Wisconsin.
Illinois 42, Michigan State 41 (in Champaign)
The Spartans have a two-game lead with two games to play in the Big Ten, but this loss was a doozy. Michigan State scored 20 points in the first half, 21 in the second (at least they were consistent) – and still had a chance to win on Keith Appling’s driving shot as time expired.
It, of course, did not go in – just 43 other shots the Spartans took that night as they shot 24 percent (and 21 percent from three-point range).
Iowa 72, Wisconsin 65 (in Madison)
The Badgers lost their Big Ten home opener on New Year’s Eve to the seemingly lowly Hawkeyes – shattering Wisconsin’s aura of invincibility at the Kohl Center (after a home loss to Marquette earlier in the year). Wisconsin added less troubling home losses to Michigan State and Ohio State (with two to go against cratering Minnesota and Illinois).
After the 35 percent shooting performance, some Badgers fans (OK, one, but he was really upset) were saying it was time for Bo Ryan to go – and there was no way this was a tournament team. That proved to be wrong.
Purdue 58, Northwestern 56 (in Evanston)
There is no shame at all losing to Purdue, even at home.
But if the Wildcats somehow lose their very exciting “last-four-in” status, this home loss to the Boilermakers is going to hurt. Purdue was in the midst of losing four of five games (all to ranked teams) with the only win this two-pointer against Northwestern.
It also was the Wildcats’ third straight loss after back-to-back 20-plus point losses at Wisconsin and Minnesota. Things were looking bleak in Evanston.
Penn State 65, Purdue 45 (in State College)
The Boilermakers looked, well, lousy in this 20-point loss on the road. Purdue shot 32 percent and were badly out rebounded by the Nittany Lions (the 157th best rebounding team in the country).
Perhaps Matt Painter should have kicked Kelsey Barlow off the team in December?
Purdue 75, Michigan 61 (in Ann Arbor)
Again, no shame in losing to Purdue – but this was a big, big game for the Wolverines and they just didn’t show up at home last week as the Boilermakers beat a ranked team for the first time all season.
It also cost Michigan a shot at the Big Ten title.
Bad loss – like all of the above.
- How Did Illinois Manage Five Big Ten Wins? (dailybigten.com)