Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 2/20/13
The road to the Big Ten championship goes through Ann Arbor. The only problem? Michigan's going to need some help in order to be part of the battle. After Indiana beat Michigan State on Tuesday, the top-ranked Hoosiers now have a one-game lead over the Spartans atop the conference. Michigan and Wisconsin, both with four losses, are another game back. So why does Michigan play such a key role? The Hoosiers and Spartans both come to the Crisler Center in the season's last weeks. If the Wolverines could win both games and they are unbeaten at home they would be even with Michigan State in the loss column, but still would need someone else to beat Indiana to get a chance at a second straight share ofthe title. It isn't out of the question, as both Michigan State and Indiana will be tested in their final four games, although the Hoosiers will feel better about them than they might have a month ago. They start at Minnesota, which has lost eight of 11 games. Then, after what should be an easy win at home against Iowa, they host an Ohio State team that they just beat comfortably in Columbus. If Indiana continues to play the way it did against Michigan State on Tuesday, it's quite likely that theHoosierswill come to Ann Arbor with a 15-2 conference record, having already clinched at least a share of the title. For Michigan State, it is in the unfamiliar position of having to cheer for Michigan; its best chance of picking up a banner requires the Wolverines to beat Indiana in the final game of the regular season. However, for that to help, the Spartans have to finish 4-0, and that won't be easy. They go to Ohio State this weekend, then face Michigan in a must-win for both teams on March 2. After that, the Spartans will host Wisconsin, another team desperate to stay in the race, before getting a breather when Northwestern comes to town for the season finale. The Wolverines have the favorable schedule, getting Indiana, Michigan State and Illinois at home and easy trips to Penn State and Purdue, and might have been a favorite for at least a share of the title if not for Ben Brust's halfcourt miracle that led to their overtime loss in Wisconsin. Michigan needs to go 5-0 and hope that Minnesota or Ohio State can knock off Indiana. That's right while Michigan State will be cheering for Michigan, the Wolverines will be rooting for the Buckeyes. Black is white and night is day at the end of this crazy Big Ten season. Of course, the league title is just one of the things that will be decided between now and March 10. Even if the Hoosiers appear to be favored to win the championship, the Wolverines, Spartans and Badgers still will be fighting for the second, third and fourth seeds in the Big Ten tournament, and all four schools will be working to better their eventual seeding in the NCAA Tournament. There's also one more battle that probably will come down to the final day of the season: the game between Michigan and Indiana. This one isn't over a team accomplishment, but rather for the Big Ten Player of the Year award, and quite possibly the national Player of the Year as well. Michigan point guard Trey Burke has been the favorite all season, and still has the stats on his side. Burke averages 18.6 points, 6.9 assists and 3.2 rebounds, and that doesn't count the intangible value of being the main focus of every team's defense and having to overcome that by getting his young teammates involved in the offense. A challenger has emerged, though, in Indiana junior Victor Oladipo. In Indiana's six games against ranked opponents this season all wins Oladipo is averaging 20 points, six rebounds and three steals. In Tuesday's win at the Breslin Center, playing on a sprained ankle, he put up 19 points, nine rebounds and five steals. Six of those points came in the final 60 seconds, as the Hoosiers rallied to beat the Spartans and take control of the conference title race. Oladipo can't match Burke when it comes to scoring he averages only 13.8 points and he doesn't handle the ball nearly as much. However, he is averaging six rebounds a game and hitting an astonishing 64 percent as a shooting guard. He's also one of the nation's best defenders, rivaling Ohio State's Aaron Craft as the best in the league, and is obviously at his best in big games. The vote might come down to Burke and Oladipo's performances at the Crisler Center on the last day of the regular season, and if one outplays the other, it could have major implications on the conference championship and seeding for both tournaments. Right now, Indiana and Burke are the favorites. We'll see if anyone can change that in the next 18 days.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Sanu: Halftime show played role in Super Bowl collapse

James Dolan is among potential group of investors of new arena for New York Islanders

Report: Rams, Clippers discussing NBA venue in Inglewood

Terrence Jones reportedly interested in joining Celtics

LeBron reverses course, says he ‘always felt good’ about Cavs

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Ole Miss tried to implicate Mississippi State in football scandal

Jamaal Charles could be on the roster bubble

Jimmy Butler on state of Bulls: ‘I just want to win at all costs’

Report: Giants will be ‘aggressive’ in trying to sign Jason Pierre-Paul

Report: Porzingis avoided ligament damage in ankle

Brooks Koepka meltdown includes whiff, stomping head off driver

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Box Score 2/24: A night of NBA disrespect

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

The Aesthetic: Pushing the boundaries of the three-pointer

NBA coaches who should be fired soon

College Basketball News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

QUIZ: Name every MLB pitcher who has recorded 10 or more shutouts in a single season

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker