Big Ten power rankings

Here’s a look at where I think things stand after two Big Ten games for everybody. Like the weather, subject to change on a moment’s notice.

1. WISCONSIN BADGERS (14-1, 2-0)
Only team averaging more than 71 points per game in conference play, scoring 85 a night against Penn State and Northwestern. That number will go down, but the Badgers have pretty clearly distinguished themselves from the rest of the Big Ten. Wisconsin’s next two games are Purdue and Rutgers, then it gets a little more difficult heading into the dog days of February.

2. MARYLAND TERRAPINS (14-1, 2-0)
With seven straight wins and the return of Dez Wells, the Terps have established themselves as the second-best team in the league, especially after opening Big Ten play with an overtime victory in East Lansing against Michigan State. If freshman Melo Trimble can sustain his high level of play at the point, Maryland poised for an impressive debut season in the conference.

3. IOWA HAWKEYES (11-4, 2-0)
A road win at Ohio State and home victory over Nebraska have helped the Hawkeyes right the ship after back-to-back losses to in-state foes Iowa State and Northern Iowa in December had the season in doubt. Iowa’s potential has never been in doubt, as a win at North Carolina illustrated. It’s also no coincidence that Aaron White and Jared Uthoff have led the way in conference play, as both have the length and versatility to be effective against anyone.

4. OHIO STATE BUCKEYES (12-3, 1-1)
A December loss on a neutral court to UNC, then a home loss to Iowa in the conference opener brings the Buckeyes’ stature into doubt. They racked up the points against a nominal non-conference schedule, but the question is can they keep up the scoring, particularly freshman D’Angelo Russell in the Big Ten. Big man Amir Williams remains an x-factor of inconsistency.

5. MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS (10-5, 1-1)
Maryland is proving to be a quality team, making that loss less of a knock on the Spartans. That was also the first game back from a broken left wrist for Branden Dawson, who was much more effective against Indiana than the Terps. This MSU team still has a high ceiling and is defending at elite level, which should breed success if it continues.

6. MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS (11-4, 0-2)
Road losses at Purdue and Maryland to start conference play have the Gophers on their heels, but they’ve still flashed potential despite a lack of depth. That depth may catch up with Minnesota in the long run, but in the short run the Gophers need to take advantage of having three of the next four games at home to get back in the Big Ten mix.

7. PURDUE BOILERMAKERS (10-5, 2-0)
Seemingly dead in the water before Big Ten season, Purdue has taken the season off life support with home wins against Minnesota and Michigan. Seven-footers A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas give the Boilers a presence in the paint that few other conference teams have if the perimeter players can find more consistency.

8. INDIANA HOOSIERS (11-4, 1-1)
IU let an opportunity slip away with the post-Christmas loss to Georgetown, bounced back on the road at Nebraska and was a complete no-show at Michigan State. Still, you get the feeling this is a team that shouldn’t stay down for long with its potent offense. But that offense has bogged down in Big Ten play, tied for last in 3-point shooting at 25 percent (12-of-48). Perhaps playing at home will remedy that.

9. PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS (12-3, 0-2)
All the momentum that Penn State had in racing to a 12-1 start was pretty much negated when the Lions stubbed their toe at Rutgers this past weekend. There was no shame in losing at Wisconsin, but having a loss to the Scarlet Knights on the resume just makes it doubly difficult for the Nittany Lions to reach their lofty postseason expectations.

10. ILLINOIS FIGHTING ILLINI (10-5, 0-2)
News broke Tuesday that leading scorer and rebounder Rayvonte Rice would be out for an extended period of time with a broken left hand. That’s a tough blow for an Illini team that will now be without last year’s starting backcourt of Tracy Abrams and Rice. Like most teams with two road games to open conference play, Illinois has struggled out of the gate. It gets no easier with Maryland visiting this week and then two more road games.

11. MICHIGAN WOLVERINES (8-6, 1-1)
An overtime win against Illinois to start conference play was a boost, but that progress was squandered along with a lead in the second half at Purdue. Freshman Ricky Doyle has been emerging in the post, but the perimeter game is still struggling to find consistency and chemistry outside of the occasional explosion by Caris LeVert.

12. NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS (8-6, 0-2)
The tough sledding continues for Nebraska, which has only scored 70 or more points twice since Dec. 1. The Cornhuskers could get help if and when big men Leslee Smith (ACL) and Moses Abraham (wrist) return, but their chances of making a return to the NCAA Tournament are dimming by the day.

13. NORTHWESTERN WILDCATS (10-5, 1-1)
A win at Rutgers in the Big Ten opener was just what the Wildcats needed before getting a dose of reality in a home loss to Wisconsin. The Wildcats are certain to be a tough out again this year, but putting together consistent efforts and results will remain difficult for a team that remains somewhat offensively challenged.

14. RUTGERS SCARLET KNIGHTS (9-6, 1-1)
Earning a split of home games with Northwestern and Penn State was a minimum for Rutgers, which will likely be an underdog in every single one of its remaining contests this season. Coach Eddie Jordan’s crew will have to grow up quickly to add to the win total with a trip to Nebraska followed by games against Wisconsin and Maryland.

2 comments

  1. Looks about right to me, Jeremy.

    I think the Hoo Hoo Hoosiers are going to doo just fine at Assembly Hall, by the way!

    come on Ref!

  2. MN is way too high at 6, they should be down around 9/10. Michigan is also too low. Michigan is very similar to IU and will likely finish at 6/7.

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