Big Ten Power Rankings

1. MICHIGAN STATE

Last time around: 1

This week: at Minnesota (Feb. 22), Nebraska (Feb. 25)

Not only are the Spartans playing the best basketball in the Big Ten right now, but there’s an argument to be made that they’re playing the best basketball in the country right now. Michigan State hasn’t lost in February, and its beaten three ranked teams in that time by 10 points or more. Kentucky, Syracuse, Missouri, Kansas, and the other elite teams in the country can’t claim a hot streak like that. Draymond Green has nearly cemented himself as Big Ten Player of the Year, and now, freshman Branden Dawson is playing up to expectations. This team has the steam for a Final Four run.

2. OHIO STATE

Last time around: 2

This week: Illinois (tonight), Wisconsin (Feb. 26)

The Buckeyes barely hold on to this spot with the Wolverines hot on their tail, but considering Ohio State’s win in Columbus was bigger than Michigan’s win in Ann Arbor, I’ll give Ohio State the nod. But this team as vulnerable right now as it’s been in the last two seasons. Jared Sullinger isn’t shooting the same kind of percentage he was early in the season, and William Buford has been so on and off it’s hard to know what Buford we’ll see night in and night out. The talent is there, but without some momentum, this team could get bumped unexpectedly in the postseason.

3. MICHIGAN

Last time around: 3

This week: at Northwestern (tonight), Purdue (Feb. 25)

Michigan came away with a huge win over arch-rival Ohio State, led by freshman Trey Burke, and the Wolverines have the easiest path of any team in the top three for a Big Ten title. The remaining schedule is a cakewalk as far as the Big Ten goes, and if another team above them loses, a Big Ten title could be a reality. Tim Hardaway Jr. is starting to catch on a bit, and Burke is still pushing Cody Zeller for Big Ten Freshman of the Year. This team has the momentum to keep this going.

4. WISCONSIN

Last time around: 5

This week: at Iowa (Feb. 23), at Ohio State (Feb. 26)

Wisconsin probably didn’t deserve to fall in these rankings last week and have only lost to Michigan State and Ohio State in the past 10 games. In fact, the Badgers haven’t lost to an unranked team since 2011. Bo Ryan’s team started to get its flow from the perimeter in the past few games, and if the offense is rolling out of Madison, this team could be very dangerous come the postseason.

5. INDIANA

Last time around: 4

This week: N.C. Central (Feb. 22), at Minnesota (Feb. 26)

Oh, Indiana. The Hoosiers made me regret my confidence to move them up a spot last week, responding with a terrible road loss to Iowa. Indiana didn’t show much heart at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, and that’s a concern going forward. Jordan Hulls and Christian Watford are both slipping, and they’re two pieces of the puzzle that have to excel for this team to do any damage in the Big Ten or NCAA Tournaments. Cody Zeller can’t carry the whole team on his shoulders.

6. PURDUE

Last time around: 6

This week: Nebraska (Feb. 22), at Michigan (Feb. 26)

I thought I was going to witness another Big Ten upset when the Boilers took on the Spartans last weekend, but as Purdue has done on several occasions this season, it collapsed down the stretch. Purdue will be an NCAA Tournament team, but will it be able to do anything with that bid? I’d have a hard time getting behind this team right now, especially considering the Kelsey Barlow/D.J. Byrd fiasco that continues to unfold. Something’s just not right in West Lafayette.

7. NORTHWESTERN

Last time around: 8

This week: Michigan (tonight), at Penn State (Feb. 26)

Northwestern made a valiant push in Bloomington, but the Wildcats just didn’t have enough to hold on for a full 40 minutes. And with an NCAA Tournament-less streak looming over the program, it’ll take the best efforts of Drew Crawford and John Shurna to get them there. Games against Iowa and Penn State are must-wins, and a win over Ohio State or Michigan could put them over the hump. This is a bubble team in the highest order.

8. MINNESOTA

Last time around: 7

This week: Michigan State (Feb. 22), Indiana (Feb. 26)

Tubby Smith’s team looked so good for a month or two, but without Trevor Mbakwe as a rock down low, Minnesota is starting to fade. The NCAA Tournament is still a possibility, but the schedule does not set up well for a late-season push. Just this week, the Gophers have to find a way to take down Indiana and Michigan State. Granted, both games are at home, but we may very well be watching the 2011 Minnesota farewell tour.

9. IOWA

Last time around: 10

This week: Wisconsin (Feb. 23), at Illinois (Feb. 26)

Matt Gatens absolutely torched the Hoosiers last weekend, and if he can continue to shoot like he did in that game, the Hawkeyes might just have a chance to make some noise in the Big Ten Tournament. This Iowa team certainly does look like a team that has some potential — it always had that look about it. But the Hawkeyes have had some serious trouble with defense, and that’s been its demise. Still, that much potential on the floor could surprise some teams in the postseason.

10. NEBRASKA

Last time around: 12

This week: at Purdue (Feb. 22), at Michigan State (Feb. 25)

The Cornhuskers move out of the Big Ten cellar after they absolutely pummeled the crap out of Illinois to end a bad four-game losing streak. At one time, the Nebraska offense went on a 36-4 run! Doc Sadler’s team will likely be a one-and-done in the conference tournament, but there is potential to blow up from the perimeter, as we saw against the Illini. This is probably the highest we’ll see them this season though.

11. ILLINOIS

Last time around: 9

This week: at Ohio State (tonight, Iowa (Feb. 26)

Trainwreck. That’s the only word that comes to mind when talking about the Illini, as Bruce Weber looks to have a one-way ticket out of town. Meyers Leonard looks ready for the NBA lottery to come as soon as possible. And this team looks to have lost all aspirations for a postseason. It’s been bad, and a huge loss to Nebraska won’t do much to change that. The Illini will need to hope to get at least one win the rest of the season.

12. PENN STATE

Last time around: 11

This week: Northwestern (Feb. 25)

The Nittany Lions don’t quite deserve to be in this final spot, beating all three of the closest teams ahead of them at least one time this season, but I can’t bear to put Illinois down this far and Nebraska definitely hasn’t earned it. So the least talented team loses this battle. I will give Penn State credit though — this team has really fought down the stretch. Coach Pat Chambers seems like the guy to bring this program back from the dead.

5 comments

  1. It is the contrast in the job performances of Chambers and Bubbles that PSU should definitely be in 11th and probably in 10th but Illinois is so disappointing they’ve deserve the 12th spot in the B10, maybe even the 13th.

    I wonder if Cuonzo Martin wishes he might have waited a year to pull the trigger for Tennessee or even Brad Brownell 2 years ago for Clemson. Maybe Illinois and VCU will trade coaches. One thing is for sure and that is while looking east Steve Alford will lower his head and stay in the Land of Enchantment.

  2. The best coach in the top 100 to time the peak and prepare his team for the Party is Izzo. Other than the personnel chemistry(recruiting, development)what are his other secrets?

  3. Ohhhhh, Kartje…..Oh, Mr. Kartje…Kartje, where are youuuuuuuu?

    You know what you can do with your Big 10 Power Rankings now? Pack them up in your gold pink and blue duffel bag and take them back to Ann Arbor. 😆

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAAHHA…Senior Night no less. Did I predict this?

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