DETROIT – Michigan and Michigan State are largely considered the two best teams in the Big Ten, but neither is in good shape to win the Big Ten regular season title.
That distinction belongs to Purdue, which has three conference losses, compared to four for Michigan and MSU. The Boilermakers control their own destiny with two games remaining, needing wins at Minnesota and Northwestern to lock up the championship.
Northwestern, at 3-15, is in last place in the Big Ten and 12-17 overall this season. That means Minnesota is likely the final hope for the Wolverines and Spartans.
Purdue has struggled on the road of late, getting blown out at Maryland and beating 11th- and 12th-place Indiana and Nebraska by a combined five points. It's possible the Golden Gophers could at least give the Boilermakers a game.
The last month hasn't been kind to Richard Pitino's team, though, as Minnesota has lost six of eight games, including a 73-63 loss at Purdue on Feb. 3.
This game is just as big for Minnesota, which is clinging to an NCAA Tournament spot. The Golden Gophers are widely considered to be one of the last few teams that would currently be in the field, but losses to Purdue and at Maryland to end the season wouldn't help.
Since Maryland has only lost one Big Ten home game all season, Minnesota desperately needs to beat Purdue.
If Minnesota pulls off an upset, the winner of Saturday's Michigan vs. Michigan State game will share the Big Ten title with Purdue and earn the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. Purdue would be the No. 2 seed and the loser of the Michigan-MSU game would be No. 3.