Big Ten Hoops Power Rankings

It’s Monday, and there are no Big Ten men’s hoops games for the first time since Nov. 10. That means it’s the perfect time to release my latest power rankings. The rankings are not meant to mimic the Big Ten standings. What fun would that be? They aren’t scientific, either. They’re simply my thoughts on where each Big Ten team stands at that time. Agree? Disagree? Tweet @BTNBrentYarina.

1. Ohio State (6-0) – The Buckeyes lead the Big Ten in scoring, at 85.2 points per game, and they’ve assisted on 66 percent of their baskets. While Jon Diebler and David Lighty were big losses, Ohio State boasts several players who can beat an opponent on any given night, from Jared Sullinger to William Buford to Deshaun Thomas to Aaron Craft. It’s almost a case of pick your poison for Ohio State opponents, and it’s not like many, if any, opponents will ever be able to negate Sullinger.
Last time: No. 1

2. Wisconsin (6-0) – Here’s a surprise: Wisconsin, which lost last year’s leading scorer Jon Leuer and third-leading scorer Keaton Nankivil, is the Big Ten’s only team to have four players averaging at least 10 points per game — although Indiana and Ohio State are very close to joining them. Even a bigger surprise, Wisconsin is off to its first 6-0 start in the Bo Ryan era.
Last time: No. 3

3. Michigan (5-1) – Worries about how the Wolverines would survive without last year’s star point guard Darius Morris have been eased quite a bit by freshman Trey Burke’s immediate strong play. He isn’t the same point guard as Morris, in that he won’t rack up the dimes at the same rate, but he can drive as well as Morris and is a better shooter.
Last time: No. 2

4. Michigan State (4-2) – Considering all the new faces surrounding Draymond Green and Keith Appling, Tom Izzo must be impressed with his team’s start, especially when the first two games were against North Carolina and Duke. Michigan State lost both of those games, but it has since rolled to four victories over inferior foes by an average of 25.5 points per game since.
Last time: No. 5

5. Purdue (6-1) – Robbie Hummel isn’t playing like a guy who missed nearly two years due to knee injuries, and if he can stay healthy, the Boilermakers will be in contention. With or without Hummel, Purdue needs to find more easy buckets — 40 percent of its shots are 3-pointers, never the recipe for consistent success.
Last time: No. 4

6. Indiana (6-0) – It’s amazing the difference a talented big man can make. The only real addition from last season, Cody Zeller has turned the Hoosiers into a completely different team. Sophomores Victor Oladipo and Will Sheehey having another year under their belts helps matters, too, but Zeller gives Indiana its first inside scoring presence since D.J. White left. As a result, Indiana’s eliminated a lot of the 1-on-1 offense it relied on the past few seasons.
Last time: No. 8

T-7. Illinois (6-0) – So this is what all the hoopla surrounding Meyers Leonard was about, huh? The highly touted recruit was a flop as a freshman, but now that he’s receiving regular minutes and has a better understanding of the game, he’s living up to the lofty expectations. A force on both ends of the floor, Leonard is averaging 12.3 points and 3.2 blocks per game. And as for the question as to who will become Illinois’ new go-to guy, it looks like it’s going to be junior D.J. Richardson.
Last time: No. 7

T-7. Northwestern (5-0) – Along with Illinois’ Meyers Leonard, Indiana’s Will Sheehey and Wisconsin’s Ben Brust, Drew Crawford is one of the Big Ten’s most improved players. Unlike those players, though, Crawford has been a solid contributor in years past — it’s just that he’s gotten even better, and he and John Shurna give Northwestern a very stout 1-2 scoring punch.
Last time: No. 6

9. Nebraska (4-1) – LSU transfer Bo Spencer has made a seamless transition, leading the team in scoring (16 ppg) and assists (4.2 apg) in his first and only season in Lincoln. The Huskers already have a road win over a major conference team — beating Southern Cal in double overtime — and they have the talent to pull off several upsets this season.
Last time: No. 11

10. Iowa (4-2) – The two losses have come against underrated Creighton and Campell — they’re the Fighting Camels, by the way — but the bigger issue is Melsahn Basabe‘s struggles. The sophomore is averaging 7.2 points per game and has scored two points in each of the last three games. Is there a sophomore slump forthcoming, or is this just a rough patch?
Last time: No. 10

11. Minnesota (6-1) – Despite a strong start and plenty of young talent, the Gophers drop as a result of Trevor Mbakwe‘s season-ending ACL injury, suffered Sunday night (read about the injury). Mbakwe was as important to his team as any player in the Big Ten, because he averaged a double-double, was one of the conference’s few physical big guys, and he led a team full of unproven players.
Last time: No. 9

12. Penn State (5-2)  – As expected, junior point guard Tim Frazier is producing across the board. And, also as expected, Frazier isn’t getting much help from his teammates. Averaging 19.1 points per game, Frazier scores 11.4 more points than Penn State’s second-leading scorer, Trey Lewis (7.7). The next closet: Iowa, at 7.1-point differential.
Last time: No. 12

Brent Yarina is a web editor and blogger for BTN.com. Find all of his work here and follow him on twitter at @BTNBrentYarina.

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5 Comments

Your Opinion?
Show Comments (5 Comments)
Aaron on 11/28/2011 @ 9:22pm EDT Said:

All. Big fam of the B10. Bigger fan of IU B-ball. And our conference deserves to be viewed as the best. the best teams. the best academic achievment. and the best recognition. bur right now I am a very angry IU basketball fan.

Why?

http://iufivebanners.blogspot.com/

come join & follow the blog (especially you IU fans) and comment & let me know if you think I’m right or off my rocker.

Ryan on 11/29/2011 @ 12:54pm EDT Said:

I cant argue with your top 3 after that I really question if you have watched these teams play. I completely agree with Aaron , IU is getting absolutely no respect. I listened to you on 1070 the fan today Brent and your lack of knowledge and tradition in the big ten is very poor. IU has been down the last 3 years but what big ten team has over 20 big ten titles and 5 big boy banners? Lets look at their body of work the last 15-20 yrs not just 3 yrs. You acted like this program has been down forever and its going to take an act of God to earn respect with you. My other big issue with this list is Purdue’s place. Brent have watched this team this year? If Hummel doesnt average between 25-30ppg this team doesnt have a chance with that inside game. It goes back to you not either paying attention to this year or really lacking an ability to identify and evaluate talent and a teams abilities. Overall I would think the Big Ten Network could find a better writer and someone that knows a little more about the players and teams in the Big Ten.

    Brent Yarina, BTN.com on 11/29/2011 @ 1:54pm EDT Said:

    Indiana has struggled for nearly two decades – aside from the magical, unexpected national champ run in 2002. Look at their tourney wins (1 Sweet 16 since 1994), streak of no tourney (3 seasons and counting) number of Big Ten titles (1 since 1993) and struggles in Big Ten/ACC Challenge (3-7) over the last 15 or so years. The banners have nothing to do with how the team plays here and now. The Hoosiers have been terrible the last three seasons, and I think No. 6 is a very nice ranking, all things considered. This team was 6-0 last year, too. I’m high on them, but let’s wait until they play someone – Butler isn’t the same team as it’s been the past few years – before we get too carried away. In that same breath, the Hoosiers have one true road win under Tom Crean. ONE. It hasn’t gotten any easier to win on the road in the Big Ten, plus this is a team that still needs to learn how to win/close out games against equal competition, let alone superior teams. As for Purdue, Matt Painter is still there and it is going to play great defense and be very tough to beat at Mackey. The Boilers have no inside scoring presence and Hummel could get hurt at any point, I know, but they’re getting by and Hummel looks good.

    As I say in the intro graph of the post, these rankings aren’t scientific and they’re only my thoughts on where each team stands. That’s what makes power rankings fun, the fact everyone has an opinion and sees things differently.

    Brent Yarina, BTN.com on 11/29/2011 @ 1:56pm EDT Said:

    national champ game run, that is.

Ryan Love on 11/29/2011 @ 5:18pm EDT Said:

So making the tourney year in and year out for 21 straight years doesnt constitute as successful, what other team in the big ten even comes close to that mark? I hear ya on being terrible the last 3 yrs, when the NCAA totally brings a program to their knees over phone calls and every scholarship player is lost and you start from ground level you will have that. Im sorry I just dont agree with you on Purdue, I have watched them play 4 times this year and I will be very surprised if they win 5-6 conference games. Painter is a very good coach and they will play tough defense but they have absolutely no scoring presents inside and like I said unless Hummel gets 25-30 each game I dont even see this team being competitive in the Big Ten.