Power Rankings: 12-1 Minnesota on the way up
Happy Holidays! I have a “present” for you. It’s my latest Big Ten Power Rankings. So, if you manage to get some free time from all the family and delicious eats, take a moment to see where your team ranks before the conference season tips off.
Don’t agree with the rankings? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment box at the bottom of the post. Or tweet it my way (@BTNBrentYarina).
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1. Michigan, 12-0 – Nik Stauskas is no ordinary freshman. Even as the team’s third or fourth option, the sharpshooter is remarkably consistent, scoring in double figures in all but one game (7 in season opener). Watch this.
Last week: No. 1
2. Indiana, 11-1 – In each of the last three games, Cody Zeller has attempted just nine shots, and yet he’s averaging 19.3 points during the span. Talk about efficiency, and improved free-throw shooting (24-of-29)
Last week: No. 2
3. Minnesota, 12-1 – Heralded freshman Wally Ellenson made his debut this past week (broken hand), and while he didn’t make much of an impact in either game, he’s an athletic wing (Watch this) who gives Minnesota even more depth.
Last week: No. 4
4. Ohio State, 9-2 – The Buckeyes’ biggest flaw is an obvious one: Deshaun Thomas lacks a reliable sidekick, and it’s even clearer vs. top-tier competition. Still, Ohio State’s two losses are to Duke (11-0) and Kansas (10-1).
Last week: No. 3
5. Illinois, 12-1 – Don’t let the final score fool you, Illinois’ 82-73 defeat in the annual Braggin’ Rights Game was closer than the final tally indicates. The Illini showed a ton of heart in the loss, and it’s not like Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson will combine to go 3-of-17 from deep every game.
Last week: No. 5
6. Michigan State, 11-2 – No, the Spartans didn’t get prized recruit Jabari Parker, who opted to attend Duke over Michigan State and a few other schools. There’s no need to worry, because Tom Izzo has plenty of talent, both present and future.
Last week: No. 6
7. Iowa, 11-2 – Iowa has won six straight for the first time in eight years, and Devyn Marble might be the hottest Big Ten player. The junior is averaging 22.7 points the last three games, despite not playing more than 24 minutes the last two times out.
Last week: No. 7
8. Wisconsin, 8-4 – Is he back? Following a slow start to the season, senior Ryan Evans has compiled back-to-back strong performances (13 pts, 7 rebs, 3 asts, 2 blks; 19 pts, 7 rebs, 4 asts). The free-throw woes remain a concern, however.
Last week: No. 8
9. Northwestern, 8-4 – For a guy who missed his first 14 3-point attempts, the proverbial light has come on for freshman Tre Demps. In the last four games, Demps has hit 9-of-12 treys (75 percent) and averaged 12 points, all while shooting 60 percent overall.
Last week: No. 9
T-10. Nebraska, 8-4 – Dylan Talley and Brandon Ubel are Nebraska’s best players, but long-range specialist Ray Gallegos might be its most important. Why? Because guys like him, when hot, can shoot a team to the occasional upset.
Last week: No. 11
T-10. Purdue, 5-6 – Since scoring 73 points in its ACC/Big Ten Challenge triumph at Clemson, the Boilers have averaged an unimpressive 61.4 points in the last five games. The low point: 44 points in a loss at Eastern Michigan.
Last week: No. 10
12. Penn State, 7-4 – Sunday’s rout of New Hampshire was a positive sign after Penn State struggled to put away the likes of Delaware State (overtime) and Army the last two times out.
Last week: No. 12
|About Brent Yarina||BTN.com web editor Brent Yarina covers football and men’s basketball for BTN.com. He writes the popular uniform feature “Clothes Call,” which also focuses on the latest cosmetic changes across Big Ten arenas and stadiums. Read all of his work here. You can subscribe to Yarina’s RSS feed and follow him on Twitter @BTNBrentYarina.|