Power Rankings: Indiana returns to top of list

It’s Monday, and that means it’s time for my latest Big Ten hoops power rankings. This week, following Michigan’s first loss, there’s a new – and familiar – No. 1. 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. Indiana, (15-1, 3-0) – There’s been whispers about it, but it’s time Victor Oladipo received more Big Ten Player of the Year chatter. Already one of the Big Ten’s elite defenders, Oladipo is shooting a ridiculous 68 percent, including 69 percent in Big Ten play (18-of-26).
Last week: No. 2

2. Michigan, (16-1, 3-1) – Why did Michigan suffer its first loss at Ohio State on Sunday? The Buckeyes limited Trey Burke (4-of-13), Tim Hardaway Jr. (5-of-15), Glenn Robinson III (3-of-8) and Nik Stauskas (0-of-3) to 30 percent from the field.
Last week: No. 1

3. Minnesota, (15-2, 3-1) – It’s not often that a loss improves a team’s overall stock, but what Minnesota showed in almost rallying all the way back from a 23-point halftime deficit at a raucous Assembly Hall proved a lot about this deep and talented team.
Last week: No. 3

Aaron Craft4. Ohio State, (13-3, 3-1) – After losses to Duke, Kansas and Illinois in its first three tests versus ranked foes, the fourth time was the charm for Ohio State, which sent then-No. 2 Michigan to its first loss Sunday. Defense was the difference this time against top competition, as Deshaun Thomas still lacked a wingman.
Last week: No. 6

5. Michigan State, (14-3, 3-1) – Exhale, Michigan State fans. The scare Branden Dawson gave us when he went down holding his knee Sunday against Nebraska was nothing more than that. The athletic sophomore returned and showed his usual explosiveness, evidenced by this last-second alley-oop.
Last week: No. 5

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6. Wisconsin, (12-4, 3-0) – As good as the Badgers looked Saturday – and it was REALLY good – it’s tough to get a true read on them. Yes, they’re one of two Big Ten unbeatens left, but their three wins have come against teams with a combined 1-11 Big Ten clip.
Last week: No. 7

7. Illinois, (14-4, 1-3) – Saturday’s 74-51 loss at Wisconsin wreaked of last year’s uninspiring play down the stretch; you know, the  pathetic effort that ultimately cost Bruce Weber his job. Seniors Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson must make sure there isn’t a repeat.
Last week: No. 4

8. Iowa, (12-5, 1-3) – Sunday was a great day for the Hawkeyes. Finally playing a non-Big Ten power, Iowa drilled Northwestern for its first Big Ten win. Perhaps even more important, though, was sharpshooter Josh Oglesby finally busting out of a season-long slump.
Last week: No. 8

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9. Purdue, (8-8, 2-2) – The way fellow freshmen Ronnie Johnson and A.J. Hammons are playing, it only made sense for Matt Painter to insert Rapheal Davis into the starting rotation. He did Sunday, and Davis rewarded him with a solid 10-point, 5-rebound effort.
Last week: No. 9

10. Nebraska, (9-8, 0-4) – Sans Brandon Ubel, the Huskers went into the Breslin Center on Sunday and gave the Spartans everything they could handle for 40 minutes. That’s a promising sign and a massive confidence booster for this inexperienced unit.
Last week: No. 11

11. Northwestern, (10-7, 1-3) – It must be painful to be Drew Crawford. Not only is the star out the rest of the season with a shoulder injury, he must watch what’s left of this Northwestern offense and constantly think about how he could help in some way, any way.
Last week: No. 10

12. Penn State, (8-8, 0-4) – Four Big Ten games in, the Nittany Lions haven’t scored more than 54 points. We all knew it was going to be a struggle on offense without Tim Frazier, but things are even worse than expected – 29.7 percent (52-of-175) from the field in the last three games.
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.

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3 Comments

Your Opinion?
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Josh Willett on 1/14/2013 @ 3:03pm EDT Said:

Here are my personal thoughts and Power Rankings that I posted at 12 AM this morning on various other sites. Feedback is always welcomed.
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January 14, 2013
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BIG TEN POWER RANKINGS
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1. Indiana (15-1, 3-0 Big Ten)
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The Hoosiers had a big week. The week started out on a good note with an easy 23 point win over Penn State. On Saturday Indiana welcomed #8 Minnesota to Assembly Hall in what figured to be a difficult game. Indiana blew the lid off the arena in the first half shooting 66% from the field and 64% from behind the arc. The combination of their brilliant shooting and Minnesota’s sloppy ball handling (12 turnovers) led to a staggering 23 point halftime lead. Indiana found the second half much more difficult as the Gophers mounted a strong comeback, but in the end the lead proved too large to lose. The Hoosiers face the Big10’s only other team without a conference loss on Tuesday when they welcome Wisconsin to town.
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2. Michigan (16-1, 3-1 Big Ten)
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When #1 Duke lost on Saturday to #20 North Carolina State, the #1 ranking in the country was left wide open for the taking. #2 Michigan was on the proverbial doorstep. Needing a win on the road at #15 Ohio State to remain the only unbeaten team in Division I men’s basketball and to clinch the (likely unanimous) #1 ranking in the country, the Wolverines came up three points short in their quest. The road doesn’t get any easier for Michigan as they are set to travel to Williams Arena on Thursday to face Minnesota.
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3. Minnesota (15-2, 3-1 Big Ten)
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The Gophers faced a daunting task as the past week began. On Wednesday Minnesota began a brutal stretch of games that has them facing off against #12 Illinois (on the road), #5 Indiana (on the road) and #2 Michigan (at home) in consecutive games. The trip to Illinois got the Gophers off to a good start. Minnesota fought the Illini to a four point half time lead before imposing their will and cruising to an impressive 17 point road win. The second game of the set proved to be a much more difficult challenge. Indiana was ready for the test and gave the Gophers their most difficult game of the season. Minnesota showed grit as they clawed back from a 23 point halftime deficit to get within three points with just 19 seconds remaining in the contest. But the margin proved too large to overcome and the Gophers took their first conference loss. This coming Thursday night Minnesota welcomes Michigan to The Barn in what should be another highly entertaining contest.
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4. Ohio State (13-3, 3-1 Big Ten)
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The #15 Buckeye’s went 2-0 this week. On Tuesday they won a hard fought game on the road, knocking off Purdue in West Lafayette. On Sunday they pulled of a huge victory over #2 Michigan at home in Columbus. These wins have eased the minds of worried OSU fans after the Buckeyes miserable 19 point loss at Illinois last week. Michigan should have had plenty of motivation heading into Sunday’s game as the #1 ranking in the country was there for the taking after #1 Duke’s loss on Saturday. Motivation or not, Ohio State came to play and took a 12 point lead to the half. As expected the Wolverines mounted a comeback and and came within a shot of taking the lead with 17 seconds left in the game when Trey Burke’s jumper rattled in and then out. Buckeye fans breathed a sigh of relief and OSU had their statement win. The coming week will continue to test the mettle of OSU as they travel to #22 Michigan State and welcome the hard nosed Iowa Hawkeyes to Columbus.
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5. Michigan State (14-3, 3-1 Big Ten)
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Michigan State put up two wins this week. Neither win came with any ease. On Thursday Sparty went into Iowa City and squeaked out a tightly fought game against the Iowa Hawkeyes. Branden Dawson scored 17 points and Keith Appling went 4 for 4 from the line in the final 20 seconds as Michigan State escaped with a three point win. On Sunday Nebraska battled MSU to a much closer game then most expected. The Spartans led by just one point with less then two minutes to play before they finally pulled away to win by 10. Michigan State travels to Penn State this week before a highly anticipated game against Ohio State in East Lansing on Saturday.
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6. Wisconsin (12-4, 3-0 Big Ten)
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The Badgers are a tough team to figure out. Before their win over #12 Illinois on Saturday, Wisconsin was 0-2 versus ranked teams this season and often looked unimpressive even in victory. The next few weeks will tell the story of Wisconsin’s season. The Badgers face ranked teams in eight of their next ten games (the only games against unranked teams are both against Iowa). If Wisconsin plans on staying in the upper half of the Big Ten this is where they will have to be at their best. If they can get through this stretch of games with five wins it could be looked at as a success.
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7. Illinois (14-4, 1-3 Big Ten)
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Illinois has had a pretty rough start to the Big Ten season. When the schedule opened the Illini were riding pretty high. They were 13-1 and had just been ranked in the top 10. Then came along Purdue, Ohio State, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Three losses in the four games have left people wondering if the strong start to the season was just a mirage. Illinois has two very winnable games this week. They are at home versus Northwestern and then on the road at Nebraska. I know it is still “early” but these feel like must wins. The following week the schedule gets much harder again and Illinois can’t afford to dig themselves an even deeper hole.
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8. Iowa (12-5, 1-3 Big Ten)
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The Hawkeyes seem to be right on the verge of having a very successful season. Their three games to open the Big Ten schedule (vs. #5 Indiana, at #2 Michigan, and vs. #22 Michigan State) were as tough as any team in the conference faced. In two of those games Iowa fell to Indiana by four points, and Michigan State by three points. Iowa followed those nail-biters by walloping Northwestern by 20. This team will surely be the thorn in the side of at least one Big Ten contender this season. They will be put to the test this week when they face off against Wisconsin in Iowa City. I predict a win for the Hawkeys as they begin to make their mark on this Big Ten season.
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9. Purdue (8-8, 2-2 Big Ten)
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The Boilermakers had a predictable week. They put up a quality effort before falling in a 10 point loss at home to #15 Ohio State and easily handled an over matched Penn State team in an 18 point home win. Purdue has shown an ability to beat decent teams on their home floor (they knocked off the then #11 Illinois at home to open the Big Ten season), but they are far too inconsistent to regularly give top teams much trouble. The upcoming week has Purdue traveling to Nebraska in what should prove to be a tight game, followed by a non-conference match up against West Virginia.
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10. Northwestern (10-7, 1-3 Big Ten)
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Northwestern has had a slew of injuries that have made an average team a poor team. Their lone win in the Big Ten came against bottom feeder Penn State. The Wildcats next five games don’t show a lot of room for optimism. They will travel to Illinois this week and face a team that has struggled as of late and will be desperate for a win. They then get Indiana at home in a game that seems nearly unwinnable. Things don’t get easier as the schedule unfolds. Northwesten’s next games include Minnesota at home and then Nebraska (admittedly, this is a potentially winnable game) and Michigan on the road.
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11. Nebraska (9-8, 0-4 Big Ten)
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Like most teams in the conference, Nebraska has faced a difficult conference schedule. Their best conference showings to date have been a six point loss at home to Wisconsin and a 10 point loss at Michigan State. In their most recent game the Huskers battled to the end and trailed by just one point with less then two minutes to play. Nebraska travels to Purdue this week and then gets Penn State at home (a game I predict will be their first conference win of the season).
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12. Penn State (8-8, 0-4 Big Ten)
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The Nittany Lions round out my conference rankings. It looks like it will be a long shot for Penn State to win more then two or three games in the Big Ten this year. Their most competitive conference game to this point has been a nine point loss to Wisconsin. Their three other losses have come by and average margin of 15.67 points. Games this week against Michigan State and Nebraska leave little hope as they will both be played on the road. It will definitely be a long season in State College.

Mitchell Lively on 1/14/2013 @ 4:50pm EDT Said:

Nebraska hosts Purdue this Wednesday, it’s not at West Laf.

Doug on 1/16/2013 @ 4:10pm EDT Said:

after wisky beat indiana and minny beats michigan, minny will be # 1, who would have thought ?