Big Ten play is less than a week away, can you feel it? That means it’s time for my latest and greatest Big Ten Power Rankings, presented by ArcelorMittal. This week, Purdue made a big jump after an impressive win over West Virginia, while Indiana and Michigan fell in the rankings.
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1. Wisconsin (12-0). Barring a major collapse to Prairie View A&M, the Badgers should be perfect entering conference play. Wisconsin eases into conference play at Northwestern.
Last week: 1
2. Ohio State (12-0). Looked like “Luck of the Irish” would do in Buckeyes’ perfect start. Furious comeback with 48 seconds left to win doesn’t overshadow weak non-conference slate. Next game at home v. Louisiana-Monroe should be a win. Starting conference play at Purdue could be interesting.
Last week: 2
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3. Michigan State (10-1). Adreian Payne, Big Ten’s Player of Week, looks like he’s healthy again with 33 points at Texas in a win. Last home tuneup against New Orleans should be easy, New Year’s eve at Penn State will not.
Last week: 3
4. Iowa (10-2). Fran McCaffery has a problem most coaches would love. Josh Oglesby is back (13 points first game) after injury. Now Fran has to find minutes for 11 legitimate guys. Will be rested and ready for Huskers New Year’s Eve.
Last week: 4
5. Minnesota (10-2). Biggest question for Gophers is can they sustain their unique style and have success in the Big Ten? According to KenPom.com, the Gophers have the 20th most efficient offense in nation. One more tuneup left v. Texas A&M Corpus Christi on Saturday.
Last week: 5
6. Illinois (10-2). Got the late-game collapse out of their system with an impressive win against Missouri. The Illini have the second-toughest strength of schedule right now in the Big Ten, which should prepare them well for the Big 10 grind. Illinois plays at home away from home (United Center) next against UIC.
Last week: 6
7. Purdue (10-3). Huge win on the road at West Virginia for inconsistent Boilers team. Terone Johnson (20 points @ W Virginia) starting to find his rhythm. Throw in freshman Bryson Scott and Basil Smotherman, and Purdue’s depth is starting to take shape.
Last week: 9
8. Michigan (7-4). Nice win against big Stanford team, especially without Mitch McGary. A healthy Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III are starting to look like the best forward duo in the Big Ten.
Last week: 7
9. Indiana (10-3). This young Hoosiers team plays faster than anyone in the Big Ten. Turnovers will be a problem until Troy Williams and Noah Vonleh gain more experience. All three losses have come against “Old Big East” teams (UConn, Syracuse, Notre Dame). Indiana will be well rested for a trip to Champaign to open Big Ten slate.
Last week: 8
10. Penn State (9-4). John Johnson’s 20-point performance in his Nittany Lion debut led five players in double figures against Mount St Mary’s. Can this deep backcourt overcome lack of front-court production? We’ll find out as they host Michigan State next.
Last week: 10
11. Nebraska (8-3). The Huskers non-conference slate was not very challenging, however their next five games are brutal: at Cincinnati, at Iowa, at Ohio State, Michigan, and at Purdue. The grueling stretch will make or break this team’s spirit and postseason aspirations.
Last week: 11
12. Northwestern (7-5). The Wildcats can ride a four-game winning streak into Big Ten play if they can beat DePaul at home. Northwestern and DePaul have split the last 14 games in the series. Wildcat fans are hoping Drew Crawford can keep up his double-double level productivity.
Last week: 12
– Team records are through December 26 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.|