To no surprise, the state of Michigan continues to dominate both college hoops and our conference power rankings. Here’s our second edition of Big Ten basketball power rankings:
14. Illinois (4-12, 0-5), Last Week: 14
Illinois will rarely ever be blown out, but Brad Underwood’s team hasn’t shown it can come out on the right side of close games. It’s been an abysmal start for the Illini and it probably won’t be getting better any time soon.
13. Penn State (7-9, 0-5), Last Week: 12
The Big Ten schedule hasn’t been kind to the Nittany Lions, but it appears a disappointing season is in store. The team has lost three straight to Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska.
12. Rutgers (8-6, 1-3), Last Week: 13
Rutgers picked up its biggest win in a long time, knocking off Ohio State this past week. It’s a solid win at home over a ranked team, which was enough to bump the Scarlet Knights ahead of the Nittany Lions, but Northwestern still maintains a slight edge for the No. 11 slot for now.
11. Northwestern (10-6, 1-4), Last Week: 11
Northwestern holds a 45 place advantage over Rutgers in the KenPom ratings, which is enough to keep the Wildcats ahead of the Knights. It’s not been an inspiring start to the year for NW, with a two-point win in the final seconds over Illinois being the only bright spot. Things might get worse before they get better, especially with Michigan on deck.
10. Nebraska (12-4, 2-3), Last Week: 8
This is where things start getting interesting. There are 10 quality teams in the conference this season, and all could make the big dance. However, someone has to be 10th, so Nebraska it is. Losing to Iowa is the reason for the drop, but watch out for Nebraska at home – the Cornhuskers have won 20 straight in Lincoln.
9. Purdue (9-6, 2-2), Last Week: 9
The Boilermakers have been the epitome of average this season. They beat the bad teams and lose to the good teams. It’s double-digit loss to MSU furthers that theme.
8. Iowa (13-3, 2-3), Last Week: 10
I ragged on the Hawkeyes a bit last week, but a pair of solid wins over Nebraska and Northwestern bring them up a couple spots. A weekend win versus Ohio State would land this team back in the top 25.
7. Minnesota (12-3, 2-2), Last Week: 5
The Gophers followed up their impressive Wisconsin win with a complete dud against Maryland. This squad could fluctuate from third to tenth all season long. We’ll know more about how serious we should take Minnesota if it can beat Rutgers, Illinois and Penn State in its next three games.
6. Ohio State (12-3, 2-2), Last Week: 4
The Buckeyes are the only Big Ten team with an embarrassing loss to Rutgers. That alone is enough to push OSU down in these rankings.
5. Wisconsin (11-4, 3-1), Last Week: 6
I may be a little high on Wisconsin, but I have faith that the Badgers will be in this range most of the year. They picked up a blowout win over Penn State on the road, which is a nice rebound from their previous two losses.
4. Maryland (13-3, 4-1), Last Week: 7
As I said last week, Maryland continues to fly under the radar. After picking up two road wins this week, all eyes should be on the Terps when they take on the Hoosiers tonight.
3. Indiana (12-3, 3-1), Last Week: 3
The Hoosiers lost handily to Michigan, but still showed enough that they belong in the top three. Battered and bruised with injuries, IU should be a team that gets significantly stronger as the year moves on. It faces a huge challenge on the road tonight against Maryland.
2. Michigan State (14-2, 5-0), Last Week: 2
Michigan State is on a roll and probably won’t pick up another loss until February. Cassius Winston has become an elite guard and has us all anxious for his next battle with Michigan’s Zavier Simpson.
1. Michigan (16-0, 5-0), Last Week: 1
In a repeat from last week: John Beilein’s squad is not only the best team in the Big Ten, but may be the best team in the country. There’s not a team in the country that the Wolverines can’t beat. Road games at Wisconsin and Indiana later this month present the most likely spots for the team’s first loss.