the marshall plan: penn state stuns the maize & blue.

This is what it felt like for No. 4 Michigan tonight.

This is what it felt like for No. 4 Michigan tonight.

That’s why they play ’em. There isn’t a soul on the planet who would’ve picked Penn State to beat No. 4 Michigan tonight. Not. A. Soul. But they did, 84-78, thanks in large part to junior guard Jermaine Marshall’s 25 points. It was Penn State’s first conference win of the season. It snapped a 14-game losing streak.

Ann Arbor cheered when the Hoosiers lost last night. Tonight? Loved ones are hiding Michigan fans’ belts and shoelaces. As they say, that’s why they play ’em.

B1G Sigh of Relief for Hoosiers
The loss gives No. 1 Indiana a little breathing room heading into the final three games of the season, including a the season ender at Ann Arbor. It’s still a critical game for both teams, but the one B1G program that stands to make the greatest strides over the next 10 days is Wisconsin. They’ve already beaten Indiana, Michigan and Ohio State. Their March 7 rematch against Michigan State could be a chance to win the regular season championship.

But nothing is set in stone yet. As they say, that’s why they play ’em.

Miami Sets the Table
Miami’s easy 76-58 win over Virginia Tech tonight sets up a major showdown with Duke on Sunday. Depending on Gonzaga’s final two regular season games and Indiana’s Sunday game vs. Iowa, the Hurricanes or Blue Devils could launch into the No. 2 spot. Or higher.

The Battle of Michigan
The in-state battle between Michigan State and Michigan (at Ann Arbor) Sunday takes on a different level of importance. For Michigan, it’s about redemption + a chance to move back into second place. For State, a win sets up an epic battle with Wisconsin for second place. Realistically, the top seed is gone for both the Spartans and Wolverines. They’re now playing for a No. 2 seed.

You’re Still the 1
Both Duke and Miami can still earn top seeds in the NCAA National Championship Tournament. I doubt both will fall to No. 2 seeds. Right now, the top four seeds will be a battle between:
* Indiana
* Gonzaga
* Duke
* Miami
* Kansas

That can change by Monday morning, but for now, they’re in the driver’s seat. For my money, Gonzaga is a weak No. 1 seed, compared to the rest of the field. A part of me believes the selection committee will drop them to a No. 2 seed the minute the Zags have trouble. Depending on the rest of their seasons, Georgetown and Florida could challenge for a No. 1 seed, but the Gators really threw up on themselves with the loss to Tennessee.

Yep—wait for it—that’s why they play ’em.

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