Power Rankings: Burke, Michigan bolster case

It’s time for my latest Big Ten hoops power rankings. While it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the top team, there’s plenty of debate after No. 2 Michigan. See where I rank your team in this post.

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, (15-0, 2-0) – The Wolverines have scored at least 93 points in three of the last four games, including 94 (at Northwestern) and 95 (vs. Iowa) to open Big Ten. Times are a changing, as this is a program that has never averaged more than 67 points under John Beilein.
Last week: No. 1

2. Indiana, (13-1, 1-0) – Somehow, many are worried about Indiana’s narrow victory at Iowa in the Big Ten opener. Consider this: Sharpshooter Jordan Hulls went 0-for-10, the worst performance of his career. That doesn’t figure to happen again.
Last week: No. 2

3. Minnesota, (14-1, 2-0) – As the Big Ten Geeks point out, the Gophers are grabbing a nation-leading 50 percent of their misses on way to averaging a ridiculous 16.8 offensive boards. And this is a team that is shooting a respectable 47 percent!
Last week: No. 3

Georgia Tech at Illinois4. Illinois, (14-2, 1-1)Nnanna Egwu‘s 16-point, eight-rebound effort against Ohio State was, by far, the big man’s best career performance. While the Illini can’t expect lines like that every night, they’d be a real tough team if Egwu became a consistent inside presence.
Last week: No. 5

5. Michigan State, (12-3, 1-1) – Something I’ve thought numerous times watching the Spartans this season: I hope Gary Harris stays in college as long as possible. This wing is something special, and he’s only a freshman, one who has battled injury to boot.
Last week: No. 6

6. Ohio State, (11-3, 1-1) – The Buckeyes are 0-3 against ranked foes. In the losses, they’ve allowed 73 points (at Duke) and 74 (vs. Kansas; at Illinois). Without a true No. 2 scorer behind Deshaun Thomas, they need to keep the top opponents in the 60s.
Last week: No. 4

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7. Wisconsin, (11-4, 2-0) – The Badgers are one of four unbeaten teams left in Big Ten play. But Wisconsin fans shouldn’t be without worry. That’s because the wins have come against Penn State and Nebraska, and neither has been very easy or impressive.
Last week: No. 8

8. Iowa, (11-4, 0-2) – Step away from the ledge, Hawkeyes fans. Yes, your team is 0-2 in Big Ten play, but the losses were to No. 5 Indiana and No. 2 Michigan, teams with a combined 28-1 record. Few, if any, expected Iowa to split those first two tests.
Last week: No. 7

9. Purdue, (7-7, 1-1) – Big Ten fans, meet Purdue’s A.J. Hammons. Three days after Hammons’ dud of a Big Ten debut, the freshman went for 20 points (8-of-12 FG), seven rebounds and three blocks against Michigan State’s big and long frontline of Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne.
Last week: T-No. 10

10. Northwestern, (9-6, 0-2) – First, it was JerShon Cobb’s season-long suspension. Next, it was All-Big Ten candidate Drew Crawford‘s season-ending shoulder injury. Then, it was Reggie Hearn‘s ankle. Hearn is back, although it sure doesn’t feel like Northwestern’s year.
Last week: No. 9

11. Nebraska, (9-6, 0-2) – It’s been a question all season: Where is the scoring going to come from? Through two Big Ten games – albeit against solid defensive teams in Ohio State and Wisconsin – Nebraska averages a head-scratching 42.5 points.
Last week: T-No. 10

12. Penn State, (8-5, 0-1) – Here’s something you probably didn’t know: D.J. Newbill (15.5) and Jermaine Marshall (14.9) rank as the Big Ten’s fourth-most prolific scoring duo.

Here’s a look at the top 5:

1. 34.6 – Michigan’s Trey Burke & Tim Hardaway Jr.
2. 31.6 – Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas & Lenzelle Smith Jr.
3. 30.6 – Illinois’ Brandon Paul & Tracy Abrams
4. 30.4 – Penn State’s D.J. Newbill & Jermaine Marshall
5. 30.3 – Indiana’s Cody Zeller & Victor Oladipo

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.


Your Opinion?
Show Comments (4 Comments)
Doug on 1/7/2013 @ 7:31pm EDT Said:

Nice job Brent, looks pretty accurate.

Josh Willett on 1/7/2013 @ 10:15pm EDT Said:

I agree with almost everything in this post. As a matter of fact, I posted my own Big10 power rankings on another site just this morning. Here’s what I had to say, I’d love some feedback!

This is how I’d grade out the whole Big10 as of now…

I have to put Michigan at number one. Staying undefeated means something. Actually it means a lot. The only hesitation I have is that Michigan hasn’t faced the strongest of competition as of yet. Their only game against a ranked opponent came on November 27th against then #18 NC State. Michigan won that home game by seven points. The schedule finally gets a bit tougher on January 13th against OSU when Michigan starts a stretch of five out of seven games against ranked opponents.

Indiana started the season at #1 and for the most part have looked strong ever since. Their only loss came in OT vs. Butler (granted Butler was unranked at the time, but have since climbed to #17 in the AP poll). The real negative of that loss was that it came at home. Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo are first team all conference type players (if not better). Tom Crean has done a masterful job in turning around one of the nation’s most storied basketball programs. I expect Indiana to be a top ten team all season and they are clearly one of the easy favorites for the Big 10 season title.

Minnesota’s only loss this season was to Duke (#5 at the time, currently #1) on a neutral court . No shame in that. Quality wins this year include a 84-75 victory over #19 Memphis, and most recently a 76-63 win over #18 Michigan State. The rest of Minnesota’s schedule is full of blowout type wins. This week will be huge for Tubby Smith’s team. The Gophers travel to #11 Illinois on Wednesday and then #5 Indiana on Saturday.

Michigan State has Tom Izzo and years of success to fall back on. Guard play is a strength (which always bodes well in college basketball). Keith Appling is a leader and a scorer; two things good teams have in their starting point guard. I expect this team to be strong all year, if not quite a Big 10 title contender.

Ohio State has three losses this season, but only one (and a half) that I’d find concerning. Their first blemish came against Duke (#2 at the time, #1 now) in a toughly fought five point loss at Cameron Indoor Arena. I have no problem with that. The next defeat came at the hands of #9 Kansas. This one raised a bit of an eyebrow because it came on Bucky’s home floor and Ohio State lost by eight points. That being said, Kansas is Kansas and I’m willing to give OSU a hesitant pass for that one too. The third loss happened this week and it was ugly. OSU went to #11 Illinois and laid an egg, losing by 19. This came just days after Illinois had been beaten by Purdue. This isn’t a good sign at all for OSU. All of their wins this season have come against lesser competition while they have also lost to every ranked team they have played.

Illinois is an interesting team. They are somewhat puzzling, actually. After starting out 12-0 they are 2-2 in their last four games. One of those two wins was a nail-biter against a poor Auburn team (winning 81-79), the other being and absolute drubbing of #8 Ohio State. Their two losses were uninspiring as well. Losing by nine to #12 Missouri and by seven to Purdue. So the question remains: Which Illinois team is the real Illinois team? Games this week against #9 Minnesota and at Wisconsin should clear this up a bit.

All season long I have been expecting Wisconsin to start playing better and to be what they usually are: a very solid team on both ends of the floor that is nearly unbeatable at home, and is always in contention come March. I’m starting to think that this season may actually be different for Bo Ryan and the Badgers. They have opened the conference schedule 2-0 but neither of those wins inspire much confidence. Beating Penn State and Nebraska in an ugly “grind it out” fashion leaves something to be desired. The schedule certainly get a lot tougher over the next several weeks with nine of their next 11 games coming against ranked teams.

I believe Iowa is a vastly improved team. The Big Ten season couldn’t have started out tougher for the Hawkeyes, with their first two games coming against Indiana (whom they nearly beat) and Michigan. Iowa probably won’t win more then six conference games, but they won’t always be an easy win for opponents either. The Hawkeyes are likely a year or two away from making a serious run at the NCAA tournament, but there seems to finally be some evidence of the program returning to respectability.

Northwestern has been decimated by injuries all year. Reggie Hern, NW’s best player just missed a couple games with injury and looked far from 100% in his first game back against Minnesota on Sunday night. I expect the Wildcat’s to play solid defense and confuse and slow down some teams with their 1-3-1 zone. If the 3-pointers are falling , NW could give some strong opponents fits and even pull of a big upset this season.

Purdue seems to be a pretty weak team this season as evidenced by losses to Bucknell, Oregon State, Xavier and Eastern Michigan (amongst others). That being said, they have also shown the ability to beat a quality opponent on their home floor. The 68-61 win over #11 Illinois this week showed that ability. This will likely be the biggest win Purdue is fortunate enough to get in 2013. But it also shows the Big 10’s best teams that they cannot assume an easy victory when they travel to Mackey Arena to face Matt Painter’s Boilermakers.

Penn State followed by Nebraska round out the bottom of the conference. Both these clubs will struggle to beat anyone other then each other during the conference schedule. Three or Four conference wins should be considered am accomplishment for either team, especially considering the level of talent the Big 10 boasts this year.

My Big 10 Rankings (As of Jan. 7, 2013.)

1. Michigan
2. Indiana
3. Minnesota
4. Michigan State
5. Illinois
6. Ohio State
7. Wisconsin
8. Iowa
9. Purdue
10. Northwestern
11. Penn State
12. Nebraska

Notes: Illinois and Ohio State are nearly interchangeable through this point in the season. The edge goes to Illinois based on their win over Ohio State. I feel much the same about Wisconsin and Iowa, and Purdue and Northwestern. Wisconsin gets the nod over Iowa based on the 2-0 conference start opposed to Iowa’s 0-2 start. Likewise, Purdue gets the nod over Northwestern based on their win over Illinois.

Blake on 1/8/2013 @ 1:30pm EDT Said:

IU’s loss to Butler wasn’t at home, it was on a neutral court in Indy.

Josh Willett on 1/8/2013 @ 2:59pm EDT Said:

Blake, your right on that IU game. My fault. My memory isn’t what it once was.