Big Ten grind highlights marquee matchups of ranked teams

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Wisconsin's Micah Potter tries to get past Maryland's Galin Smith during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Monday, Dec. 28, 2020, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

The Big Ten Conference had an astonishing nine of its teams ranked in the Top 25 in the latest poll Monday.

Naturally, the best ranked of them would immediately lose to an unranked opponent.

Maryland's victory over sixth-ranked Wisconsin on Monday night — along with No. 21 Minnesota's rout of No. 17 Michigan State — sets the stage for what could be an epic start to the new year in the improbably deep Big Ten.

Tenth-ranked Iowa, fresh off its overtime loss to the Golden Gophers, takes on No. 19 Northwestern on Tuesday night while No. 14 Purdue hosts Rutgers. Nebraska heads to No. 25 Ohio State on Wednesday, and Minnesota faces the Badgers and No. 16 Michigan tries to remain unbeaten against the Terps on New Year's Eve.

All before the weekend even begins.

The Hawkeyes continue their brutal schedule at Rutgers on Saturday, when Purdue heads to No. 15 Illinois and Michigan State visits the Cornhuskers. The weekend wraps up Sunday with Wisconsin visiting Penn State, Northwestern heading to Michigan and Ohio State traveling to Minnesota in a pair of matchups involving ranked teams.

Get ready for a wild start to 2021 in the Big Ten.

GONZAGA GETS A BREATHER