My friend Chris is back and he gives us his current Big Ten Power Rankings.
1. Ohio State (24-1, 11-1): The latest victim of the almighty Kohl Center. Rest easy Ohio State fans, the loss to Wisconsin on Saturday was a minor set back, but this is still a very talented team that will win the Big Ten and likely make a long tournament run.
2. Wisconsin (19-5, 9-3): Enjoy it Badger fans because the highlight of your season just happened. Great win for Wisconsin, who yet again will find a way to finish in the top three of the Big Ten and likely yet again find an early exit in the tournament against a lower seed. As good as Bo Ryan is in the Kohl Center is as bad as he is as a favored seed in the tourney. A big road test awaits in Mackey Arena on Wednesday—as a Boiler fan I’m hoping there is an Ohio State hangover.
3. Purdue (20-5, 9-3): This is perhaps the most predictable team in the country. With the exception of the Richmond loss, this team has taken care of business against weaker opponents and struggled on the road against high-caliber teams. JaJuan Johnson is a likely first team All American, but the inconsistency of fellow senior E’twaun Moore takes this team from potentially elite to merely good. The Boilers finally got a decent road win (although the win at Valpo is looking better as they just entered the RPI top 50—at 49) in Champaign on Sunday. This week could be epic—or an epic failure—as the Badgers and Buckeyes visit the house that Patrick Bade built…with all his bricks. Win these two games and it’s likely a top 3 seed in the dance.
4. Illinois (16-9, 6-6): This spot is up for grabs. While consistency has been a mark of the top three teams in the conference, the rest of the squads—not so much. Illinois is a paper tiger this year, looking very formidable with their experience and talent, yet they cannot quite seem to put it together. They got a somewhat quality win on the road at Minnesota last Thursday night, but still sit on the bubble. This is a team that should be in come March, but with pre-season All-Big Ten performer Demetri McCamey’s inconsistent play, this is a hard team to figure out. Has Weber lost this team?
5. Michigan (16-10, 6-7): Given the recent struggles of…well everyone below them, Michigan earns this spot as winners of five of their last six—including breaking a long winless streak at the Breslin Center and going into Happy Valley and taking down a desperate and senior laden Penn State squad. The lone blemish during this stretch was at Ohio State in a very competitive game. Beilein has this team playing well, and this is a team with young talent that has a chance to make the NCAA tournament.
6. Michigan State (14-10, 6-6): Their struggles have been well documented here, but this team still has the talent in the starting five to make a push for a tournament spot. A daunting schedule down the stretch will not make it easy—starting with a road test in Columbus against an Ohio State team that suffered their first loss of the year after holding a double digit lead in the second half…yikes.
7. Penn State (13-11, 6-7): Schizophrenic might be the best way to describe this team. A ten point loss to Maine pre-conference, then wins vs. ranked (at the time) Michigan State, Illinois and Wisconsin, followed up by a three game losing streak against other fringe NCAA teams, and then demolishing a hapless Northwestern squad on Sunday. Just when Talor Battle and company looked to be turning the corner, they find themselves now fighting for an NIT berth.
8. Minnesota (17-8, 6-7): Losing both your point guards midseason will destroy any team. They ended a four game skid with a huge win at Iowa on Sunday, but a lot is working against this team as they try to make a push for the tournament.
9. Northwestern (14-10, 4-9): This was finally the year that the ‘cats were going to be dancing. Nope. Shurna looks like a different player the last few games as he has simply not been producing.
10. Iowa (10-14, 3-10): Shown signs of improvement over the season and are now playing tough against everyone. The Hawkeyes stay out of the bottom spot by virtue of their sweep of Indiana, but they looked pretty awful against Minnesota at home on Sunday.
11. Indiana (12-14, 3-10): The lack of talent in Bloomington is glaring, but talk to any Hoosier fan (even the ones who actually own an IU degree) and they will tell you the glory days are quickly coming back. The future is likely bright for this program, as historical programs such as this do not stay dormant forever, but right now this team, while they play hard, will find wins hard to come by; as the skill level between them and other teams is not comparable. They possibly have the most annoying coach in the Big Ten as well—his sideline aerobics workout is ridiculous.
1) Ohio State wins the Big Ten regular season title—but loses at Purdue next Sunday.
2) Purdue wins the Big Ten tournament
3) Teams dancing: Ohio State (1 seed), Purdue (3), Wisconsin (3), Illinois (7), Michigan State (10) Michigan (12); with only Ohio State surviving the first weekend.