Big Ten Power Rankings

Robin Scholz | Associated Press

1. OHIO STATE

Last time around: 1

This week: Penn State (Jan. 25), Michigan (Jan. 29)

This is what being in the driver’s seat looks like. It took a few slip-ups for the Buckeyes to get here, but when all of your Big Ten wins are coming in huge blowouts (mind you, they did lose to Indiana and Illinois), then you’re in good shape. The Buckeyes are still the most-talented team in the Big Ten, look like a lock for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and still can get better. They still have two matchups to go with Michigan State and Michigan, and anything can happen in those games. But my money is on Ohio State being here till the bitter end.

2. MICHIGAN STATE

Last time around: 2

This week: Minnesota (Jan. 25)

The Spartans lost their third straight game to Michigan this past week, but followed that up with a vengeful pounding of Purdue at the Breslin Center. And in Michigan State’s two most recent games, Draymond Green accounted for just 15 points combined. Sure, he contributed in other ways, but it’s important for Michigan State to get the big guy taking and making shots. He’s my Big Ten Player of the Year so far, but he’ll only hold on to that title if he can carry the Spartans in their bevy of important games coming up.

3. MICHIGAN

Last time around: 5

This week: at Purdue (tonight), at Ohio State (Jan. 29)

Michigan still hasn’t really won on the road and losing to a beatable Arkansas team didn’t do much for the Wolverines’ momentum. But it’s hard to argue for anyone else to be above them, considering they beat Michigan State last week and did so with a nearly incompetent Tim Hardaway Jr., who has struggled as of late. The Wolverines’ losses are mostly justifiable, but they’ll need to win a road game to warrant staying at the No. 3 spot. Luckily, they’ll get a few chances coming up, with their next two matchups against Purdue and Ohio State both on the road.

4. INDIANA

Last time around: 3

This week: at Wisconsin (Jan. 26), Iowa (Jan. 29)

Do the Hoosiers have it figured out yet? I’m not sure. But we’ll know a heck of a lot more when these power rankings come out next week. A tough battle with Wisconsin awaits at the Kohl Center, and Indiana will need to be at its most focused to win against Bo Ryan’s gouge-your-eyes-out, efficient ‘D’. With Cody Zeller playing as good as he has all year and Victor Oladipo looking a bit more like himself after Sunday’s game against Penn State, it’s possible. For a team so reliant on the 3-pointer though, the Hoosiers will need to get back into a rhythm from behind the arc quick. If they get hot from long range in their upcoming stretch of tough road games though, then IU could be back to national acclaim soon.

5. WISCONSIN

Last time around: 6

This week: Indiana (Jan. 26)

Some have touted the Badgers as one of the hottest teams in the country in the past week or two, and I guess I understand that claim, considering the resurgence of preseason All-American point guard Jordan Taylor. Taylor scored 19, 15, and 19 in his last three games, all wins for the Badgers. Still, I’m not quite on Wisconsin’s bandwagon just yet. Two of those wins were at home to bottom-tier Big Ten teams (Northwestern and Nebraska) and one on the road to the conference’s most inconsistent team (Illinois), and Wisconsin’s best wins of the season are at Illinois and at home against Purdue. That doesn’t strike fear into the hearts of many Big Ten teams, and unless they can pull off wins over Indiana and Ohio State, I think people will realize soon how down the Badgers are.

6. ILLINOIS

Last time around: 4

This week: at Minnesota (Jan. 28)

Illinois is far and away the most annoying team to speculate about in this conference, as the Illini beat Gonzaga and Ohio State and held Missouri to a too-close-for-comfort game in Champaign, but also lost to Penn State and Wisconsin, while being blown out by Purdue and UNLV. It only gets harder from here for Bruce Weber’s squad, and sooner or later, they’ll realize how much they need to utilize Meyers Leonard to compete in the Big Ten. Leonard has almost as much upside as Zeller, but he gets the ball even less.

7. PURDUE

Last time around: 7

This week: Michigan (tonight), at Northwestern (Jan. 28)

The Boilermakers seem to be settling into their role as a middling Big Ten team, losing to teams they’re supposed to lose to (Michigan State and Wisconsin) and beating teams they’re supposed to beat (Iowa and Minnesota), since their atrocious loss to Penn State. Things only get harder from here, as Purdue will need a much better showing from Robbie Hummel in its next few games, than he had his last time around (0-for-11 shooting). Hummel is shooting under 40 percent now on the season, as he’s been forced to carry a bigger load than ever before.

8. MINNESOTA

Last time around: 10

This week: at Michigan State (Jan. 25), Illinois (Jan. 28)

Minnesota doesn’t have much talent on the roster without Trevor Mbakwe, but Tubby Smith is getting as much out of that limited talent as he possibly can lately with three straight wins, including a doozy in Bloomington. The Gophers have one of the top 25 shooting teams in the country and are in similar company when it comes to assisting on buckets. Julian Welch has really stepped up as of late, and Ralph Sampson III has even taken a step forward this summer. This team will probably lose in East Lansing, but a three-game win streak after that (against Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska) is possible.

9. IOWA

Last time around: 8

This week: Nebraska (Jan. 26), at Indiana (Jan. 29)

Calling a team a “dark horse” is often a fickle moniker, especially in college basketball, and the Hawkeyes were the No. 1 receiver of that title since the Big Ten season began. After being granted with that kiss of death, the Hawkeyes have lost three of four (their one win was against Michigan). To be fair, it was a tough four-game stretch, and Iowa could be on the rise in the coming weeks – the only ranked team it faces in the next month is Indiana (twice). That’s an awfully easy schedule to take through February, while other Big Ten teams in the top tier beat themselves up.

10. NORTHWESTERN

Last time around: 9

This week: Purdue (Jan. 28)

Oh, Northwestern. For a team that has never been to the NCAA Tournament, the Wildcats have done an awful lot this season to excite and subsequently disappoint the fans who have stuck with them. The Wildcats have also lost three of four with an even more impressive win in that time than Iowa (a seven-point win against Michigan State). And although Northwestern’s schedule isn’t as easy as Iowa’s in the next month, the Wildcats could push through that slate with at least a .500 record. That might put Northwestern in contention for a tournament bid, but knowing the Wildcats’ history, I’d be hesitant to hand them anything before the Big Ten Tournament.

11. NEBRASKA

Last time around: 11

This week: at Iowa (Jan. 26)

With a late comeback against Indiana, the Huskers got their first significant win as a Big Ten program. It may have been more the Hoosiers’ doing in that game, but Nebraska has nonetheless shown some ability to compete in close games, especially at home. A 34-point loss to Ohio State doesn’t do much for a team’s psyche though. Bo Spencer will need to take better, higher-percentage shots for this team to succeed any further, but the Huskers are definitely able to upset a more talented, Big Ten team when playing in Lincoln.

12. PENN STATE

Last time around: 12

This week: at Ohio State (Jan. 25)

It’s about to get ugly for the Nittany Lions. Three of Penn State’s next four games are against Ohio State, Michigan State, and Wisconsin, and the other one is against a tough-to-predict Iowa team on the road. That screams four straight losses, and although Tim Frazier has been getting some scoring help lately, it likely won’t be enough to make many strides this season in the Big Ten. Penn State just needs some more guys who can play for its hardnosed coach to succeed. It’s crazy to think that Michigan’s Trey Burke was committed to the Nittany Lions at one time. But that seems like a long, long time ago now.

20 comments

  1. Ryan-

    Indiana has already played 3 of their 4 against OSU and MSU(your two top picks in the Power Rankings). Michigan has had only one game to this point with the same two teams. Though Michigan did defeat Minnesota in a relatively close contest in Ann Arbor, Indiana has had the tougher Big 10 opponents to this point. IU also defeated the #1 ranked team in the nation.

    You’re letting the love for your alma mater get in the way. Your next three games(not including Purdue knocking you off in West Lafayette tonight) will give you a closer comparison of how your Wolverines stacks up against the team you’re working at Scoop to cover.

    Thank goodness you have those two senior guards plucked from Indiana(Novak-Chesterton & Douglas-Carmel)to give your soft boys some grit, or you would be bottom dwellers. You do have that relatively decent 7-footer from Chesterton(IN) coming in next year, so your future is bright.

  2. Harvard,

    I think you’re a little too hard on Ryan. He actually has IU higher than a lot of people in their power rankings. Power rankings aren’t as holistic as actual rankings. It’s more of a snapshot of who is playing well right now. I’d put Michigan ahead of IU right now because we’ve had two recent bad losses compared with Michigan’s one. And although this was published before the game, Michigan proved they aren’t soft with a win at Purdue.

    Maybe you’re letting your alma mater get in the way. Overall, I think IU should be better now, but with 3 straight losses, 4 in the deepest conference in America isn’t bad. After Wisconsin lost 3 straight, i think Ryan had them in the 7-9 range.

  3. Damn straight I’m letting the love for my alma mater get in the way. Impartiality is so boring.

    I would hope Ryan realizes I’m just messing with him. I mean no harm. I’ve never made fun of his big hair. I like Ryan..He’s an upbeat young man and he brings a very positive vibe and fresh perspective on Scoop when talking of the Hoosiers. Not sure why Dustin sometimes has a bit of a grimace on his face when Ryan is bright and chipper on ScoopTalk sessions..Maybe it still taking some adjustment time for Dustin…He doesn’t know what to make of an honest eye sitting next to him that can actually find constructive things to say about the Hoosier basketball team without the undertone of cynicism or snideness. Kellenberger and Korman were such Debbie Downers. It often felt like that had some sort of ax to grind with Indiana.

    Anyway, I actually like Michigan(except when they’re playing the Hoosiers). That was a nice win for Michigan tonight in West Lafayette. Congrats to your team, Ryan.

    Still sorta pisses me off they landed Mitch McGary out of CHESTERTON. He is going to be a beast to contend with in the middle. Should be entertaining to watch him go against Cody next year.

  4. It often felt like they had some sort of ax to grind with Indiana.

    Time to catch a couple hours of sleep. Did you know Thomas Jefferson refused to sleep through a sunrise? He would stay up extremely late(avid reader)and still get up every morning for the glorious event the return of daytime. And didn’t he die within hours of John Adams on the 4th of July?

  5. They both died in the same fireworks accident down at the Masonic Lodge.

    I’m impartial but I did give my Heisman vote to Tre.

  6. Harvard, I don’t get Chet’s reference, but your assertion is true. They were probably the two most ardent and influential founding fathers, the best of rivals, and occasional friends, and both died on the very same 4th of July….which was also the nations 50th birthday. Pretty amazing.

  7. It turns out they DID NOT actually die in a fireworks accident at the Masonic Lodge.

    I gotta quit getting my news from Fox.

  8. Clarion, they were compatriots while writing the declaration and they were compatriots in their old age went they became pen pals, but I’m pretty sure that history is very clear on this…. They were major adversaries During their political careers and hated each other for like 40 years! Adams was a Federalist and Jeffereson a DemocratIc-Republican and their views clashed. They also were direct competitors to take over for Washington (Adams won a narrow vote), and then Jefferson became our 3rd president by beating Adams. The history books show that Adams was so pissed he refused to attend the inauguration.

    If you want I can go out to the world wide web and find about a 1000 articles to cite…

    Would you like to find some facts to back up your statement this time or are you going to admit you are full of sh*t? I am sure you were probably alive back then and remember it vividly, just like all the talented 7-footers that played against Wilt (that didn’t exist).

  9. Just to be clear Clarion, I need to know where you stand on a few things…

    Is the world round?

    Did man walk on the moon?

    Was 9/11 an inside job?

  10. Actually I’m shooting historical fact at an old fool, but tamāto-tomâto…

    I still agree with your basketball takes. You just have a funny, made-up view of other things.

  11. Are you kidding? What would be the point? I remember a conversation once with Clarion that ventured into philosophy somehow. According to him, the empiricists were wrong, the rationalists were wrong, the materialists were wrong, the Catholic moralists were wrong, Descartes was wrong, Aristotle was wrong, Darwin was wrong… basically anyone who was smart and had written things down had gravely erred somewhere in their thinking.

    There was only one philosopher he actually agreed with, come to think of it…it was some ancient robed and bearded guy named “Hoosius Clariencus” from about 400 B.C….Hadn’t heard of him myself.

  12. ^Man, oh, man…You still got it. Blows anything I’m capable completely out of the water.

    ““Hoosius Clariencus” from about 400 B.C..” Gulp. Very, very funny.

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