Big Ten play is just around the corner, and that is great news. It’s going to be another fantastic Big Ten conference season. I promise. Anyway, it’s time for my latest Big Ten Power Rankings, presented by ArcelorMittal. This week, Minnesota is a huge riser, while Indiana is a significant dropper.
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1. Wisconsin (12-0). With only one game in the next two weeks, vs. Prairie View A&M, it’s safe to say Badgers will be a perfect 13-0 when they start Big Ten play January 2 at Northwestern.
Last week: 1
2. Ohio State (10-0). Regardless of the non-conference slate, the Buckeyes are the top defensive team in the nation, according to KenPom. The matchup with Notre Dame in Madison Square Garden should be interesting.
Last week: 2
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3. Michigan State (8-1). The Spartans need to get Gary Harris healthy again. Branden Dawson broke out of his slump, matching a career-high with 13 rebounds against Oakland. Tom Izzo needs that on a more consistent basis.
Last week: 3
4. Iowa (10-2). It was a heart-breaking loss to Iowa State over the weekend. Iowa, however, can right the ship with Arkansas-Pine Bluff before hosting Nebraska in conference opener.
Last week: 4
5. Minnesota (9-2). Big jump for Gophers this week. Big Ten Player of Week and new 1,000-point scorer Austin Hollins is putting in work! The Gophers boast the Big Ten’s fourth-best strength of schedule and their four straight wins have them moving up quickly.
Last week: 9
6. Illinois (9-2). The Illini are moving up – even following the loss to Oregon. Standing at 9-2 and with a very good Missouri team looming, this team will drop if it can’t find a way to finish games.
Last week: 7
7. Michigan (6-4). The Wolverines played closer to their potential in Sunday’s narrow loss to No. 1 Arizona. Glenn Robinson III returned to “Big Dog” status last game, and in order for the Wolverines to thrive, he has to stay there.
Last week: 6
8. Indiana (8-3). The youth of Tom Crean’s team showed in the loss to a mediocre Notre Dame team. With three losses in the last six games and no signature win, the Hoosiers have work to do before entering conference play.
Last week: 5
9. Purdue (8-3). Bryson Scott continues to be a bright spot for the Boilers. A.J. Hammons, the conference’s leading shot blocker, needs to step up his offensive game before trip to West Virginia.
Last week: 8
10. Penn State (8-4). You just can’t lose at home in OT to Princeton, especially not when you own a double-digit lead in the second half. That loss may hurt come Selection Sunday. A guard-dominated team, Penn State needs to find ways to finish down the stretch.
Last week: 10
11. Nebraska (7-3). The Huskers rebounded nicely in their win vs. Arkansas State. A trip to Cincinnati will have major post-season implications for Huskers – if they can win.
Last week: 11
12. Northwestern (6-5). Chris Collins’ team has a chance to win its next two games (Brown, DePaul), both at home, and that could help establish some momentum before Big Ten play opens January 2 vs. Wisconsin.
Last week: 12
– Team records are through December 16 action.
|About Stephen Bardo
||The BTN basketball analyst and former Flyin’ Illini star is a regular contributor to BTN.com. Follow Bardo on Twitter @stephenbardo, read his past posts right here, and use the form below to submit your questions to his Big Ten basketball mailbag.|