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Conference Spotlight: Big Ten

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College Crosse picks a conference each Thursday and shines a light on its existence. This Thursday we're looking at the Big Ten.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Conference Spotlight: Big Ten

Current League Standings:

BIG TEN
TEAM OVERALL RECORD CONFERENCE RECORD WINS LOSSES
Michigan 1-0 0-0 Bellarmine
Penn State 1-0 0-0 Vermont
Rutgers 1-0 0-0 St. John's
Johns Hopkins 1-1 0-0 UMBC Towson
Ohio State 1-1 0-0 Robert Morris Detroit
Maryland 0-0 0-0

Wha' Happened?:

  • Ohio State may have had the oddest result -- at least based on preseason expectations -- of any team in the Big Ten at this stage of the season. The Buckeyes traveled north to Detroit to face the Titans this past weekend and Ohio State came away with a troubling 8-9 loss. The Buckeyes took a hammer to Robert Morris' skull just three days after falling to Detroit, but losing an opportunity to start the season with consecutive victories is probably something that Ohio State would like to erase from their memories.
  • Johns Hopkins lost to Towson for the first time since 1996, mitigating the goodwill that the team built in the Jays' unrepentant abuse of UMBC to start their campaign. The biggest contrast between the two games may have been Hopkins' shooting: The Blue Jays put up 47 shots with 16 goals against the Retrievers while popping five goals on 31 attempts against a disciplined Tigers defense.

Upcoming Games of Earth-Shattering Importance:

  • Johns Hopkins at Villanova (February 14): The Jays have an opportunity this weekend to attack a solid Villanova team on the road in Philadelphia. A strong performance from Hopkins would quiet some of the insanity that has surrounded the team after the loss to Towson, stabilizing a program that still has Championship Weekend potential despite the mind-bending midweek result against the Tigers. It will be interesting to see what kind of offensive production Hopkins can create against the Wildcats, especially through the midfield. The game also holds extra importance to the Jays as Hopkins will travel to North Carolina just a week after making an appearance in Philadelphia, signaling a major increase in competition and limited opportunity to slowly accelerate toward maximum capacity.
  • Penn State at Loyola (February 14): The Nittany Lions stepped on Vermont's neck last weekend, but Loyola isn't of the same Birkenstock-wearing ilk as the Catamounts. The 'Hounds looked strong against Virginia last weekend, and Penn State will receive a massive test against Loyola at Ridley this coming weekend. These are the kinds of games that can impact the Lions' NCAA Tournament at-large candidacy, but more importantly a solid showing from Penn State against Loyola would create some good feelings around what the middle of the Big Ten will look like in 2015.
  • Michigan at Detroit (February 14): How many people in Michigan are hoping that the Wolverines drop Detroit this weekend not because it would earn Michigan a victory against an in-state opponent but rather that it would provide the Wolverines a transitive property victory over Ohio State? (Answer: Every person that lives in Michigan.) The Wolverines used a nuclear-powered second half to put away Bellarmine last weekend, and a consistent effort against Detroit could merit the Wolverines a second victory before the team hosts Notre Dame on February 21st.

"That Guy" Watch:

  • Gerald Logan (Michigan): The keeper is back! After sitting out all of 2014 with an injury, Logan returned to the cage for the Wolverines and registered 12 stops and a 42.86 save percentage. Those aren't spectacular numbers, but Logan was a horse for the Wolverines prior to his injury and has shown an ability to control a defense.
  • Joseph Nardella (Rutgers): The faceoff specialist went 11-19 at the dot against St. John's, providing the Scarlet Knights with about 38 percent of the team's offensive opportunities against the Johnnies. In Patrick McEwen's latest FOGO ratings, Nardella ranks 11th nationally.
  • Ryan Brown (Johns Hopkins): The Jays' offensive fist is shooting 40.90 percent through his first two games, having taken around 28 percent of Hopkins' total shots. Assuming he keeps up this pace, Brown will finish the 2015 regular season with 59 goals on 143 shots. That's not unreasonable, but it's also based on only two games.

NCAA Tournament Prognosis:

  • League: The Big Ten is probably a two-bid league, and that hasn't changed since the start of the season.
  • Johns Hopkins: The Jays are probably going to be fine this year despite the loss to Towson. Everybody needs to calm down. Unless something drastic happens in the near future, the Jays are still a NCAA Tournament team.
  • Maryland: The league's other postseason-probable team starts competition this weekend against Navy. The Terps have questions, but there's still a lot of talent kicking around College Park.