Below is an incredibly sloppy attempt to visualize the strength of Purdue's '10-'11 conference schedule. I don't foresee any major shifts in the Big Ten this year so I thought the previous year's conference wins would be a good way, at a high-level, to quantify the strength of each team. I am well aware that this doesn't make the perfect predictor of this upcoming season, but the trends should be pretty accurate.
It doesn't take a brain surgeon to identify the two vicious stretches in the schedule that will likely decide the Big Ten. Obviously this is the Big Ten and anyone can lose on an off night. But realistically, these two stretches will greatly influence the final conference standings.
Stretch #1 – 1/22 – 2/1
- 1/22 – Michigan State at home
- 1/25 – At Ohio State on the road
- 1/29 – Minnesota at home
- 2/1 – At Wisconsin on the road
If Purdue meets their expectations for this season, this set of games will draw a huge amount of national exposure. It's nothing Purdue isn't used to at this point, but being under the microscope always brings an extra amount of pressure. We've all seen what can happen when the team's confidencehas been tested under similar circumstances. Hopefully Purdue can use last year's derailing as a teachable moment as it's very possible that the team's first loss comes during this week and a half long gauntlet. It'll be a good of how well Purdue can picks themselves back up.
Stretch #2 – 2/16 – 2/26
- 2/16 – Wisconsin at home
- 2/19 – Ohio State at home
- 2/23 – Indiana on the road
- 2/26 – Michigan State on the road
After the first brutal stretch of the schedule, Purdue plays one (if not two) "easier" games before the (proverbial obsenity) hits the fan yet again. The final leg of the schedule could have some major implications on the outcome of the Big Ten as well as the Big Dance. With seeding on the forefront of everyone's minds (less Indiana), it’s garunteed to be an emotional 10 days for Purdue fans... Hopefully, it’s the good kind of emotion instead of the type that puts holes in my walls.
To make matters worse, these two games are sandwiched by a pair of games against a talented yet under performing Illinois. If I were to pick one team in the Big Ten that has the potential to vastly improve the from last season, Illinois would be my top choice.
Needless to say, the Big Ten Championship will be be well deserved, no matter who is crowned BT Champ. There is going to be some great competition for the top spot. And Purdue has a huge advantage with the leadership of Hummel, Johnson, and Moore.