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Basketball Fri Feb 01 2013

Big Ten Basketball Heating Up


You weren't seeing things as you looked at the weather forecast this morning. It really was five degrees as you walked out the door for your Friday-morning commute. And just when it seems that it possibly can't get any colder, just know that the Rite of Spring known as March Madness is right around the corner.

Chicago is a hub for Big Ten graduates. You can't swing a life-sized cutout of Calbert Cheaney, that once occupied your dorm freshman year, without hitting a college-themed bar in Lincoln Park, Lakeview, and other surrounding neighborhoods. Flags bearing the likeness of Sparty, Purdue Pete, or a Buckeye are proudly displayed out front of each watering hole, acting as a beacon of light to attract the most loyal of fan base.

According to the Big Ten's website , there's a "gapers block" jamming four teams at the top. They include (overall, conference record):

#1 Michigan (20-1, 7-1)
#3 Indiana (19-2, 7-1)
#13 Michigan State (18-4, 7-2)
#11 Ohio State (16-4, 6-2)

Not to mention soon-to-be ranked Wisconsin and #23 ranked Minnesota one and two games back respectively.

The heavyweight fight comes Saturday night at 8:00 p.m. local, when #3 Indiana hosts #1 Michigan in Bloomington. (ESPN will carry the game, while you can listen locally on WSCR-AM 670). You can bet other matchups throughout the frigid days of February will provide warmth in the comfort of your own home or local watering hole. (Here are some ideas of where to go, compliments of the website

Yes, there are the local teams too (UIC, DePaul, Loyola, Chicago State, etc). Loyola and UIC are actually putting together pretty decent seasons, and it could be fun to watch these teams play the role of spoiler, provided they can make it to the tournament. But the Big Ten is far and away the best basketball conference in the country, and we're about to hit the halfway point of the conference schedule, which means every night will be a battle for the top of the standings.

So tuck in that Golden Gophers t-shirt underneath your sweater, dust off the Illini ski cap, and snuggle up next to your mate, or a pint of your favorite lager, and tune in for some good basketball down the stretch. If anything, it'll help you prepare for your office bracket come mid-March, and get you pumped for the Big Ten tournament, which is back in Chicago this year.

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