SPORTS GALORE: Two-horse race in Big Ten

By Bruce Bentley • Last Updated 1:50 pm on Friday, January 31, 2014

The Big Ten men’s basketball season is looking more and more like it will be a two-horse race through the beginning of March.

Because of the Big Ten’s depth it was expected the regular season league champion could possibly have four and maybe even five losses.

Oddly, with more than half the conference season remaining, only three teams have three or fewer league losses. Iowa’s loss to Michigan State on Tuesday was its third. MSU’s only loss was at home to Michigan, and with Michigan’s win on Thursday at home against Purdue, the Wolverines are 8-0 in league play.

I’m not really sure what happened to the likes of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Ohio State. The Buckeyes, with an inside laugh, have lost five straight. Wisconsin was just upset by Northwestern at home.

It’s been a wild Big Ten season so far, to say the least. Unless your a Michigan or Michigan State fan.

MSU has long been atop the Big Ten. Michigan once was, but that was a long time ago.

With John Beilein in charge, the Wolverines have slowly risen back to the top of the Big Ten. In his six full seasons with the Wolverines, Michigan has won more than 20 games four times, made the NCAA tournament four times and last year reached the NCAA championship game.

This year, despite losing two underclassmen to the NBA (Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway), the Wolverines are thriving again. Even with, possibly, their best player, Mitch McGary, on the bench and a roster full of freshman and sophomores (just one junior and one senior on the team).

Three of Michigan’s four losses are to teams ranked in the top 20.

As for Michigan State, well, they are doing what they always do. Win!

Even with the Red Cross tent next to the bench, Michigan State has reeled off 19 wins against just two losses (North Carolina and Michigan).

Obviously, Tom Izzo is one of the best in the game. Michigan State has fought for victories at times this year. And sometimes, even for MSU fans, you wonder how they continually win.

Not having Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson hurts, but it doesn’t mean losing. Those two losses would cripple most teams. Not MSU.

As a college basketball fan and Michigan fan, this is awesome. The two best teams in the Big Ten are both from Michigan. One has been doing it longer, the other looking like they will remain on top in the future, as well.

We all have wanted a top notch rivalry between our two schools on the hard court. Now we have it.

The rematch on Feb. 23 at Crisler Arena could be for the Big Ten title. Michigan won at home last year by a point. This game should be another tight one.

The game has been announced as a noon start on CBS.

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