Winning Streak February 13, 2013
The statistic kind of slaps you in the face:
This is our first winning streak in February or March since 2010.
Yes, really. Last year, we only won one game in February or March. The year before that, our latest winning streak was right after the first of the year: we beat Wisconsin and Northwestern at home on January 2nd and 6th. So you have to go back to February 6th and February 9th in the 2009/10 season to find back to back wins in February or March. My goodness.
This time, we did it the hard way. #1 Indiana at home followed by #18 Minnesota on the road. If I understood craps at all, I’d make a killer analogy here. “Man, that’s like rolling a hard eight with $15,000 on the come line.” I honestly don’t know if that statement makes sense or makes you laugh. Probably laugh.
The best part about this little winning streak? It came at the tail end of our gauntlet. Looking at the current Big Ten standings, our last five games were against the #1, #2, #3, #4, and #6 teams in the conference. Our next five games? #7, #9, #12, #4, and #11.
Whoa. Kind of stumbled on that one there. Holy crap, is that right? This needs to be reiterated. Here’s the Big Ten Standings (tiebreakers go by overall record). Last five games in italics. Next five games in bold:
Michigan State – 10-2
Indiana – 9-2
Wisconsin – 8-3
Michigan – 8-4
Ohio State – 7-4
Minnesota – 5-6
Purdue – 5-6
Illinois – 4-7
Iowa – 4-7
Northwestern – 4-7
Nebraska – 3-8
Penn State – 0-11
Wow – how had I not been thinking about this for weeks? This is our best lull in the Big Ten schedule in years. And it comes in mid-to-late February.
And then our season closes out with #5 and #8. So yes, 5-2 is very, very possible.
And yes, I hear you. “Robert, we’ve all been thinking this, but you’re not supposed to say it out loud.” We haven’t beaten Purdue since John Groce had hair, and here I am, talking 5-2 finish.
I don’t know, maybe it’s all the Griffey lay-in, and the fact that it was Indiana, and the fact that we began the game at Minnesota like we began the game at Wisconsin, yet this time we found a way to fight back from 26-14 to actually lead at halftime. But I have this new found confidence that we can take care of business.
Maybe even to the tune of a five game winning streak. I like this team’s mindset right now, so I like our chances to beat Purdue tonight and then win in Evanston this weekend. Call it revenge week. Two games we shouldn’t have lost. A bunch of annoying, scrappy hustle dorks that need a smackdown, Sheehey-style.
Do that, beat winless Penn State at home, and everything starts to look different. We’ll be .500 in the conference with four games to play. We can start to think about Big Ten tournament seed. We can rest assured that a win over Nebraska on senior day would beyond lock the tournament for us. We could look at the games at Iowa and at Ohio State as “chance to improve our NCAA seed” games. We can approach the Big Ten Tournament the same way.
But even as I type that, this tweet hangs in my mind. I can’t escape it. It’s all I thought about today. Sent to me after the Wisconsin game on Super Bowl Sunday:
@alioneye Also, it would be so like this team to somehow beat Indiana and Minnesota in the next two, then lose at home vs. Purdue by 20.
— Brian Crozier (@BriCrozier) February 3, 2013
Yep – one glance and I can see it. It would be so us. Purdue lost to Indiana by 37 at home. We beat Indiana at home. And watch us now lose to Purdue to derail the season that just got back on track.
NO. Won’t happen. Can’t happen. These four seniors want this. Not at home. Not tonight.