1. Michigan, (17-1, 4-1) – This Trey Burke quote following Michigan’s win at raucous Minnesota is a scary thought for the Big Ten: “We got our confidence back, and that’s important.” Look out, because it seems like the effort in its lone loss at Ohio State was an aberration.
Last week: No. 2
2. Indiana, (16-2, 4-1) – One of Indiana’s better qualities this season has been its depth. Thing is, the last three games (vs. Minnesota, vs. Wisconsin, at Northwestern), the bench has scored a grand total of 11 points. Even more troubling: Will Sheehey has posted a couple of goose eggs during the stretch.
Last week: No. 1
3. Michigan State, (16-3, 5-1) – Winners of five straight, the Spartans are the hottest team in the Big Ten. The main reason for the streak: Adreian Payne, who’s shooting a mind-numbing 79 percent and averaging 14.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 0.5 turnovers the last four games.
Last week: No. 5
4. Minnesota, (15-3, 3-2) – OK, the miscues are becoming a bit of a concern. Minnesota is averaging 15.6 turnovers in five Big Ten games, and it hasn’t had fewer than 15 yet. As for the two-game funk, it’s a little less disconcerting when one considers the competition (at No. 5 Indiana, vs. No. 5 Michigan).
Last week: No. 3
5. Wisconsin, (13-5, 4-1) – So much for the soft schedule to start Big Ten, huh? The Badgers tallied the Big Ten’s most impressive win of the season Tuesday, upsetting No. 2 Indiana at Assembly Hall. While Wisconsin lost at Iowa its next time out – a respectable “L” – it’s clear Bo Ryan has another team that will be in the thick of the Big Ten race.
Last week: No. 6
6. Ohio State, (13-4, 3-2) – At the risk of sounding like a broken record, some Buckeye MUST step up and become a consistent No. 2 scorer. It was the same old story in Saturday’s loss at Michigan State, as Deshaun Thomas scored 28 points and no other Buckeye had more than six.
Last week: No. 4
7. Iowa, (13-5, 2-3) – Check out this stat: Aaron White scored 17 points on four (!) shot attempts in Saturday night’s win over previously undefeated Wisconsin. The sophomore lived at the free-throw line (13-of-15) and helped Iowa get several freebies (24-of-29), which was huge in avoiding a third straight home loss.
Last week: No. 8
8. Purdue, (10-8, 3-2) – No Big Ten team has improved as much as the Boilers in recent weeks. No, West Virginia isn’t “West Virginia” this year, but Purdue – the same team that lost to Eastern Michigan – is playing its typical stout defense and improving on offense.
Last week: No. 9
9. Northwestern, (11-8, 2-4) – There are plenty of names in the running for Big Ten’s most underrated player, but Reggie Hearn might be as deserving as any. This is a former walk-on who’s averaging 14.5 points despite putting up just 8.6 shots per game (76-of-147; 52 percent).
Last week: No. 11
10. Illinois, (14-5, 1-4) – Remember when Illinois was the surprise team of the season? You should, because it was only a couple weeks ago. Well, the Illini have lost four of five, including a 14-point home defeat to Northwestern, and they’re showing no signs of snapping out of it. It looks like 2011-12 all over again.
Last week: No. 7
11. Nebraska, (10-9, 1-5) – Fresh off the team’s first Big Ten win, the Huskers have plenty to be excited about. No. 1 on the list should be freshman Shavon Shields, who hit 10-of-11 shots and scored 29 points in Saturday’s win at Penn State. The last two times out, Shields is averaging 23.5 points and seven rebounds.
Last week: No. 10
12. Penn State, (8-10, 0-6) – Jermaine Marshall had an interesting first-half (0 points) and second-half (18 points) split in Saturday’s narrow loss to Nebraska. Safe to say, the result might have been different had the junior found any kind of success in the first 20 minutes.
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.|