1. Michigan State (24-5, 13-3) – Winners of nine of the last 10, including seven consecutive, the Spartans have clinched at least a share of Tom Izzo’s seventh Big Ten crown. Impressive. It gets better: Michigan State can guarantee an outright title by winning one of its final two: at Indiana and vs. Ohio State.
Last time: No. 1
This week: at Indiana (2/28), vs. Ohio State (3/4)
2. Michigan (21-8, 11-5) – The Wolverines surrendered 75 points to hot-shooting Purdue in Saturday’s first home loss of the season, marking the first time an opponent has reached the 70-point plateau since a 75-59 loss at Iowa on Jan. 14.
Last time: No. 2
This week: at Illinois (3/1), at Penn State (3/4)
T-3. Ohio State (23-6, 11-5) – Here’s a problem: Jared Sullinger has led the Buckeyes in shot attempts just once in the last five games. During the span, the Buckeyes are 2-3. Go figure. The big man must demand the ball and take advantage of the easy looks he gets.
Last time: No. 3
This week: at Northwestern (2/29), at Michigan State (3/4)
T-3. Wisconsin (21-8, 10-6) – Jordan Taylor, it seems, always comes up big in the biggest games. The senior point guard did it again in Sunday’s upset at Ohio State. No, Taylor didn’t erupt for 27 points and seven assists, as he did last season against the Buckeyes, but he shot a season’s best 75 percent, scored 19 points and added five rebounds and four assists.
Last time: No. 4
This week: vs. Minnesota (2/28), vs. Illinois (3/4)
5. Indiana (22-7, 9-7) – It’s amazing how much more dynamic the Indiana offense is when Jordan Hulls and Christian Watford are confident and hitting shots. The two juniors bounced back in Sunday’s convincing win at Minnesota, and when they’re on, it’s truly pick your poison for the opponent.
Last time: No. 5
This week: vs. Michigan State (2/28), vs. Purdue (3/4)
6. Purdue (19-10, 9-7) – The way Robbie Hummel is playing down the stretch, averaging 23.2 points the last five games, you get the feeling he’s going to do something very special on Senior Night Wednesday. As for how Purdue will play sans Kelsey Barlow, Hummel and company are scoring 73.3 points per game, including 83 against Nebraska.
Last time: No. 6
This week: vs. Penn State (2/29), at Indiana (3/4)
7. Iowa (15-14, 7-9) – Robbie Hummel isn’t the only popular senior saving his best for last. Matt Gatens has been unconscious the past four games, shooting 56.7 percent, including a ridiculous 72.7 percent from downtown, and averaging 26.5 points per game.
Last time: No. 8
This week: at Nebraska (2/29), vs. Northwestern (3/3)
8. Northwestern (17-11, 7-9) – The NCAA tourney hopes are still alive, thanks in large part to John Shurna drawing the much-dabated foul call in the final seconds at Penn State. Northwestern has work to do, though, and a home game against suddenly struggling No. 11 Ohio State provides a great chance for another signature win.
Last time: No. 7
This week: vs. Ohio State (2/29), at Iowa (3/3)
9. Illinois (17-12, 6-10) – Considering the way the Illini responded to Brandon Paul coming off the bench two games earlier, it’s amazing Bruce Weber decided to go with Paul AND Meyers Leonard in a reserve role Sunday against Iowa. It worked, as the Illini recorded their first double-digit win since Dec. 11. To be fair, both did play 36 minutes.
Last time: No. 12
This week: vs. Michigan (3/1), at Wisconsin (3/4)
10. Minnesota (17-12, 5-11) – The Gophers are lost on offense, and it doesn’t look like Tubby Smith has any answers or any player willing to take the lead role. How else can you describe leading scorer Rodney Williams not even attempting a shot in the first half of Sunday’s loss to Indiana?
Last time: No. 9
This week: at Wisconsin (2/28), vs. Nebraska (3/3)
11. Penn State (12-17, 4-12) – Why did Tim Frazier pass the ball to Jonathan Graham, a 40 percent free-throw shooter, in the final seconds Saturday against Northwestern? Frazier is Penn State, and he makes a living getting to the basket and drawing fouls. That was a situation that calls for the best player to make a play. Other than that, Frazier was masterful.
Last time: T-No. 10
This week: at Purdue (2/29), vs. Michigan (3/4)
12. Nebraska (12-15, 4-12) – How bad were those 34 points the Huskers had in Saturday’s loss to first-place Michigan State? This bad: Four Big Ten players have scored at least that many points in one game this season.
Last time: T-No. 10
This week: vs. Iowa (2/29), at Minnesota (3/3)