A two game lead for the regular season title with four games to go? No sweat, especially when your the No. 1 ranked team in the country and your name is Indiana, right?
In most seasons and in most conferences you bet that would be the case. However, if this Big Ten season has taught us anything over the last few weeks it's that the theme has to be "It ain't over till it's over."
Following Michigan State's 2nd half collapse against Ohio State that lead to a 68-60 loss the Indiana Hoosiers hold exactly that two game lead with four games to go.
A team with the talent of Cody Zeller and the all-around game of leading contender for B1G player of the year honors, Victor Oladipo, should be able to cruise to a regular season title and the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. However, no one get's off light in the Big Ten and that includes the Hoosiers.
Thankfully for IU fans they are witnessing their team play some of the best basketball they've seen all-around.
The Hoosiers are on a 4 game winning streak following what could've been a crushing last second loss to Illinois on Feb. 7th. Instead they have outscored opponents by just over 19 points a game in the current winning streak, averaging 78 points a game and holding opponents to just 59.5 points a game on the defensive end of the court.
So IU appears to be in the drivers seat and control their own destiny or whatever other cliche you want to use, but it isn't going to be the cakewalks most No. 1 teams face.
Indiana has two away games and two home games and playing on the road in the Big Ten is never easy, especially so this year. However, even more worriesome is that the final two games of the year aren't going to be easy AT ALL as they host current No. 18 Ohio State and then travel to current No. 7 Michigan to close out regular season play. Can you say pressure?
Then there's the fact that Wisconsin is right there ready to pounce at this point. They have perhaps the easiest set of games down the home stretch of the season and only face one big challenge against Michigan State. The winner own's 2nd place in the conference standings all to themselves and if it's Wisconsin that means a tie-breaker with Indiana for the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.
Michigan State's loss yesterday to OSU was big time for both the Spartans and Hoosiers as it means Indiana not only holds the tiebreaker advantage, winning both meetings between the two schools this season, but would have to lose three of the final four to allow the Spartans to become champions.
So, while the course of the Big Ten season has shown us nothing is gauranteed it's becoming a bit more obvious that no matter what happens down the stretch run here Indiana is likely your new Big Ten champions, or co-champions with the Badgers at the bare minimum.
In the infamous words of Dennis Green – "If you want to crown their asses, then crown them."