Big Ten Power Rankings for 1/20
It was another wild and interesting week in the Big Ten and time for a reshuffling of the Power Rankings deck.
1. Michigan: I moved them here in my mid-week look after Wisconsin beat Indiana in Bloomington. Michigan followed up with a great performance on the road, beating Minnesota 83-75 and really controlling the game for most of the way. When Minnesota punched, Michigan’s counter was more impressive and longer lasting. It was truly a great performance and Michigan is fun to watch. THIS WEEK: v Purdue, at Illinois
2. Indiana: Hoosiers lose at home to Wisconsin and fail to score 60 points (had 59). Badgers dictated everything in that game and the Hoosiers did not have the answers. Not impressive on Sunday in their 67-59 win at Northwestern, on the heels of Iowa’s beating Northwestern 70-50 in Evanston one week prior. I realize that you can’t base much off the transitive property of inequality as it relates to scores. Such as, Iowa beat Northwestern by 20 at Northwestern, Indiana beat Northwestern by eight at Northwestern, so Indiana and Iowa are real close. Well, we did see Iowa and Indiana play in Iowa City to start the year and the Hawks lost by four points. Indiana is still a good team and a road win in this league is never a bad thing, but the Hoosiers haven’t looked good offensively since jumping out to a 52-29 lead at half against Minnesota eight days ago. THIS WEEK: v PSU & MSU
3. Minnesota: I think of Minnesota playing Wisconsin or Michigan State ten times on a neutral court and I come away believing the Gophers would win more games against those two teams, so I have them here. They were one of the best defensive teams in the nation in the out of conference, but they have allowed 88 and 83 points in their last two games against Indiana and Michigan. Yes, those are elite teams but I thought Minnesota would do better on the defensive side of the ball than that. THIS WEEK: At Northwestern and at Wisconsin.
4. Michigan State: OK, their win against Ohio State got my attention, a little. A typical MSU grinder, winning 56-53. Perhaps that game confirms Ohio State more than Michigan State for me, given the venue and OSU’s grinding style this year. Sparty is 5-1 but they have played the 10th ranked conference slate in the B1G so far and tough sledding is coming; nine of their next 11 games come against ranked teams (two of those are against Wisconsin, who will be ranked on Monday) and another game is at Purdue, who is gaining confidence. THIS WEEK: At Wisconsin, at Indiana
5. Wisconsin: Two road games for the Badgers this past week; the win at Indiana and the loss in the hornet’s nest that was Iowa City on the 20th anniversary of Chris Street’s death. Badgers scored a lot of second half points against Iowa, but Iowa became the first team in the last 11 tries to score 60 or more against the Badgers (Iowa got 70). They’ve played the 11th ranked B1G slate so far, so their work is ahead of them. THIS WEEK: Michigan State & Minnesota at home…then at Ohio State and Illinois, followed by a home game against Iowa then play Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio State.
6. Ohio State: They might be uglier than Michigan State, but their four losses have come against teams that were ranked when they played them (Duke, Kansas, Illinois and MSU). Their win against Michigan will carry a lot of weight with me for a while. The gap between Deshaun Thomas and the next guy in the scoring column has widened in Big Ten play; he is averaging 23.2ppg in league games, at least 12.4ppg more than their next leading scorer. If he gets hurt or gets in foul trouble, Ohio State is toast. THIS WEEK: At Penn State
7. Iowa: There’s not a debate for this spot right now. Well, some might argue Purdue, but no one is going to argue Illinois after their three straight losses and embarrassing home loss to Northwestern. Losses to Indiana (four points) and Michigan State (three points) at home are all the more painful now, considering Iowa was without Devyn Marble against Michigan State and very well could have won either contest. I hope that in not getting a split in those games doesn’t come back to bite them come selection Sunday, but Bo Ryan said after the game on Saturday that Iowa is as good as any team they have played this year. Thus far, Iowa has played the toughest conference slate of any team in the Big Ten, but that will likely settle out somewhere south of 9th before all is said and done, so the Hawks will need to take care of business in late January and February. THIS WEEK: At Ohio State, at Purdue. A split would be nice and a 3-4 record through their daunting seven-game slate to start the season would be solid.
8. Purdue: They are 3-2 in the league with two of their wins coming against Penn State and Nebraska, the third at home against the fading Illini. They have played the easiest league slate so far, so I am not a big believer but they are grinding things out and put up a nice out of conference win against West Virginia on Saturday, up 30 with over 10 minutes to play. THIS WEEK: At Michigan, vs Iowa.
9. Illinois: They are shooting just 23.4% from three in their five Big Ten games, last in the league. They shoot as many three’s per game than anyone in the league (tied for first with Northwestern) and they are the worst at doing it. They are also the worst three-point percentage team defensively. Their offense is chuck three’s or watch DJ Richardson or Brandon Paul attempt to drive to the rim. It’s not fun to watch and Illini fans are fearing a repeat of last year where their team went into the tank in conference play.
10. Nebraska: They got their first B1G win of the year this weekend, 68-64 at Penn State. Just one league foe, Ohio State, has gotten out of the 60′s against Nebraska. THIS WEEK: vs Illinois and Northwestern
11. Northwestern: Great and convincing win for them at Illinois, then a respectable home loss to the Hoosiers. Still, they are not a good team. THIS WEEK: vs Minnesota, at Nebraska
12. Penn State: They might get someone at home. I hope it’s not Iowa. THIS WEEK: at Indiana, vs Ohio State
TOURNEY TALK: As of now, the league is a solid six-bid league and I think Iowa and Illinois will battle for the seventh bid for the conference. I believe they will get seven in and the Hawkeyes win against Wisconsin will likely have them as one of the ‘last four in’ in this week’s various bracketology looks. Iowa’s RPI moved up to 63rd at StatSheet.com and 61st at ESPN. Ken Pomeroy ranks Iowa 29th after their win against Wisconsin and has the Hawks at 20-11 overall, 9-9 in the league, which matches up with my preseason prediction.