B1G Hoops Power Rankings: December 17th
Top ranked Indiana lost for the first time. Illinois and Michigan remain undefeated, Purdue lost for the sixth time and we are two weeks away from the start of Big Ten play. Time for this week’s Big Ten Power rankings.
For our rankings from last week, CLICK HERE
1. Indiana (LW #1): Yes, they lost to Butler in Indianapolis, the same Butler team who lost 78-61 against Illinois back in November. I still think the Hoosiers are the best and most complete team in the Big Ten and until they start losing games in league as a habit, I am keeping them here. I never left Ohio State in any week during the football season related to my power poll and just don’t see a good reason for leaving Indiana at the altar right now.
2. Michigan (LW #2): The Wolverines beat West Virginia on Saturday to improve to 11-0. They are 5th in the nation in offensive efficiency but 328th out of 347th in adjusted tempo. They make it up in effective field goal percentage where they are also 5th in the nation. They make 40% of their three-point shots, 51.1% of their shots on the whole and they are the top defensive rebounding team in the league.
3. Minnesota (LW #4): Picked up a win against a Top 60 Pomeroy team last week to move to 11-1. Before the year began, I felt they had a chance to be the best defensive team in the league. So far they have not disappointed on that level and they can make a case for being the best offensive and defensive team combined. They are not as good offensively as Indiana but they are arguably better defensively than are the Hoosiers and they have played a much more challenging schedule than Indiana. They do play the toughest league slate of any Big Ten team, which also means they are going to have a clear say in who wins the league.
4. Illinois (LW #6): I put them too low last week, coming off the win at Gonzaga. But I feel that teams three through six are within an eyelash of on another until we start to see league games to create separation. I am still a bit leery of the Illini given their dependence on three-point shooting; they have attempted 311 through 12 games, far and away more than any other team in the league. Wisconsin is next with 258 in 11 games and Michigan third with 222 in 11 games. Brandon Paul has hoisted 83 treys himself while Nebraska has taken 144 as a team through 11 games. An oddity here; Illinois is 64-172 from three at home (37.2%) and 56-139 away from Assembly Hall (40.2%). They have made 10 or more three’s in each of their five games away from Assembly Hall and less than 10 in four of their seven home games. I don’t like to ride teams who rely on the long ball as much as the Illini are, which is why I don’t think they hold this high once Big Ten play is in full swing. For now, they have wins over Gonzaga and Butler and no losses.
5. Ohio State (LW #3): This is more a matter of just not knowing enough about Ohio State. They have only played one game against a team currently ranked in Ken Pomeroy’s Top 100 and that was a five-point loss at Duke who will be #1 in the new rankings later on Monday. They host Kansas on Saturday which should be a good litmus test.
6. Michigan State (LW #5): As I wrote last week, this team isn’t playing its best basketball right now and if they are going to be a Top 20 team it’s going to ‘happen’ for them in February. That’s not new for a Tom Izzo team, but this crew lacks the star power of past Michigan State teams. They are not going to get up and down with regularity and may have to muck it up a bit in the mean time. They host Texas on Saturday.
^^^^NCAA LINE ^^^^
7. Iowa (LW #7): Hawkeyes pick up a solid win against UNI this week. They went 2-2 in their games against Top 100 competition. The computers and guys like Ken Pomeroy still like Wisconsin (6-4) but I don’t like the Badgers reliance on three-point shooting, their lack of a point guard and how poorly they have played against pressure defenses. That’s why Iowa stays here.
8. Wisconsin (LW #8): Read above.
9. Northwestern (LW #9): They stay here, for now. But the Wildcats lost guard Drew Crawford, arguably their best player. He averaged more than 16 points per game last year and was over 13 per game this year, the team’s second leading scorer. They will still be pesky, but likely not much more.
10. Nebraska (LW #10): Huskers have lost two games in a row, two blowouts; 64-42 at home vs Creighton and 60-38 at Oregon. Both of those teams are Top 40 teams with Creighton being better than that, but Nebraska’s inability to score might be the most telling fact. They are the league’s ‘slowest’ offense with regards to adjusted temp and also one of the worst in the nation.
11. Purdue (LW #11): Matt Painter’s Boilermakers fell to 4-6 after a loss against then #22 Notre Dame in Indianapolis. It’s their worst start since their 7-21 season in 2005, Gene Keady’s last at Purdue.
12. Penn State (LW #12): Without Tim Frazier, the Nittany Lions don’t stand much of a chance. Well, they did beat Delaware State in overtime this past week.
SYNOPSIS: I think Indiana and Michigan are at the top tier right now, with Minnesota knocking on the door. Illinois, Ohio State and Michigan State are in the second tier, then there is a ‘prove it’ drop off to Iowa and Wisconsin. Below those two teams its ugly and getting uglier. I’d say it’s a six-bid league right now, with Iowa and Wisconsin needing to beat three or so teams from the top two tiers, in addition to beating the majority of the bottom tier teams when they play them if they want to get into the dance.
As it relates to Iowa, the Hawkeyes play two more very weak teams before their Big Ten opener at home against Indiana on New Year’s Eve.