1. Michigan, (19-1, 6-1) – The nation’s new No. 1 team, Michigan has an average margin of victory of 18 points in its six Big Ten wins. Its narrowest victory: 8 points in a nationally televised prime time game at a jacked-up Williams Arena.
Last week: No. 1
2. Indiana, (18-2, 6-1) – No doubt about it, Cody Zeller (18 FG%, 5.5 ppg in last two games), must become a bigger factor on offense if Indiana wants to hoist the Big Ten crown, let alone the national crown. In the meantime, let’s all enjoy Victor Oladipo.
Last week: No. 2
3. Michigan State, (17-4, 6-2) – Adreian Payne has turned himself into one of the Big Ten’s elite big men. And if Sunday’s shooting effort is any indication, expect him to drain more 3s – which will open up driving lanes for Keith Appling and Gary Harris.
Last week: No. 3
4. Ohio State, (15-4, 5-2) – Everybody knows Deshaun Thomas needs scoring help, particularly vs. top competition. Sam Thompson is the key. This is a guy who shoots 55 percent and averages 8.4 points vs. unranked foes, compared to 32 percent and 5.2 points vs. top 25 teams.
Last week: No. 6
5. Wisconsin, (14-6, 5-2) – Is it time to worry about Jared Berggren? The senior hasn’t scored in double digits in four consecutive games and has blocked only two shots in the same stretch. Previously, Berggren had 16 double-digit efforts in 18 games and averaged 2.1 blocks.
Last week: No. 5
6. Minnesota, (15-5, 3-4) – Losers of four straight, it’s no secret, the Gophers and Tubby Smith are frustrated. Keep this in mind, though: The losses came at Indiana, vs. Michigan, at Northwestern and at Wisconsin. We should see better results this week, vs. Nebraska and Iowa.
Last week: No. 4
7. Purdue, (11-9, 4-3) – What about Matt Painter as an early Big Ten Coach of the Year candidate? After a rough nonconference season that included a loss at Eastern Michigan, the young Boilers play a physical brand of ball that no team wants to face.
Last week: No. 8
8. Iowa, (13-7, 2-5) – As promising as Adam Woodbury‘s future is, it might be time for Fran McCaffery to consider giving the heralded freshman a mental break. In his place, juniors Melsahn Basabe and Zach McCabe should receive more minutes.
Last week: No. 7
9. Northwestern, (12-9, 3-5) – The Wildcats have rotated wins and losses the last six games, and all things considered, that’s a pretty solid accomplishment. Jared Swopshire‘s improved play (13 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 1.8 spg in last 4) makes this team dangerous on any night.
Last week: No. 9
10. Illinois, (15-6, 2-5) – Losers of four out of five, the lone win coming at Nebraska, it doesn’t get any easier for the frustrating Illini. Here’s the team’s next next six tests: at Michigan State, vs. Wisconsin, vs. Indiana, at Minnesota, vs. Purdue, at Northwestern. Yikes!
Last week: No. 10
11. Nebraska, (11-10, 2-6) – In three games since Brandon Ubel returned from an elbow injury, the Huskers are 2-1. It’s not a coincidence, either. The senior leader is averaging 12 points, eight rebounds (4 offensive) and 1.3 blocks on his way to providing a huge lift in winnable matchups.
Last week: No. 11
12. Penn State, (8-12, 0-8) – Patrick Chambers isn’t crazy, after all. The way D.J. Newbill (15.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 4 apg) is playing his first season in State College, Penn State would have had one of the nation’s better backcourts – that is, if PG Tim Frazier didn’t suffer an early season-ending injury.
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.|