Just when you thought the Big Ten couldn’t get any wilder, it does. Every day, it seemed, there was a thrilling upset. Like, Northwestern over Wisconsin. Or, Penn State over Ohio State. Or, Indiana over Michigan. Naturally, the unexpected results were felt in my latest Big Ten Power Rankings, presented by ArcelorMittal. Find out where your team lands in this post.
1. Michigan (16-5, 8-1). The way this Big Ten season has gone, at some point, the Wolverines’ perfect start would come to an end. I didn’t expect the undefeated run to end in Indiana, and I definitely didn’t expect Nik Stauskas to be held to 1-of-6 shooting. They hold the top position, but only because Michigan State and Iowa both also lost.
Last Week: 1
2. Michigan State (19-3, 8-1). The defensive effort against the Hawkeyes on the road in the second half was impressive. The same can’t be said for the Spartans’ effort in the loss to Georgetown. I like Michigan State going out of conference to play this type of style, especially since Northwestern no longer plays “Princeton-like” offense. It should help come NCAA time.
Last week: 2
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3. Iowa (17-5, 6-3). A second-half drought in a two-point overtime loss kept the Hawkeyes from a 2-0 week. Gabe Olaseni compiled another impressive impressive double-double, this one of the 15-point, 12-rebound variety, in the wild victory at Illinois. Up 21 points in the first half to being down five points in the second, Iowa got clutch scoring from Devyn Marble to earn a road victory.
Last week: 3
4. Northwestern (12-11, 5-5). I can’t remember the last time the Wildcats have been in fourth place in the Big Ten in February. Wins at Wisconsin and Minnesota give Northwestern four wins in its last five games. Now, it gets a week off before facing Nebraska at home. Chris Collins should be a national coach of the year candidate.
Last week: 8
5. Ohio State (17-5, 4-5). Lenzelle Smith Jr’s missed dunk toward the end of regulation gave Penn State the break it needed to upset the Buckeyes in overtime. The Buckeyes, however, rebounded nicely to win at Wisconsin. Coach Thad Matta told me this conference race will change 2-3 more times before it’s all said and done.
Last week: 6
6. Minnesota (15-7, 4-5). The Gophers continue to struggle without their leading scorer Andre Hollins. Losing at Nebraska didn’t surprise me as much with DeAndre Mathieu struggling when Huskers keyed on him. Then, vs. Northwestern, the Gophers were doomed by shooting just 3-of-14 from distance. Maurice Walker played well but has to finish that play at the end of the game.
Last week: 5
7. Indiana (14-8, 4-5). The young Hoosiers found out why it’s so difficult to win at Nebraska, losing by five points. The Huskers did a good job of limiting Noah Vonleh to 3-5 FG’s and just 7 points. Yogi Ferrell came back with a massive effort (career-high 7 3-pointers, 27 points) to hand Michigan its first Big Ten loss. Couple Ferrell’s scoring with his impressive defense on Nik Stauskas, and it may have been the season’s most complete effort in the Big Ten.
Last week: 7
8. Nebraska (11-9, 3-5). Pinnacle Bank Arena is becoming a house of horrors for opposing Big Ten teams. Even Michigan, the lone team to escape, needed a late bucket to win. Nebraska’s defensive effort vs. Indiana was very impressive. Terran Petteway is playing with more confidence right now than anyone in the Big Ten. I’m looking forward to calling Huskers at Michigan this Wednesday to see if Huskers can step up in the big road challenge.
Last week: 10
9. Penn State (12-10, 3-6). Fran McCaffery and John Groce said during Big Ten media day, the conference is better from top to bottom this season. The Nittany Lions are a perfect example, winners of three in a row in conference play for the first time since 1999 after beating Purdue. We will see just how improved they are in their next game at Michigan State.
Last week: 12
10. Wisconsin (17-5, 4-5). Losers of five of their last six games, the Badgers are in absolute free fall. In their last two losses at the Kohl Center, Wisconsin struggled to find their offense and scored under 60 points. The Badgers will travel to Illinois to face a desperate team in need of a win.
Last week: 4
11. Purdue (13-9, 3-6). Since their narrow win at home over Penn State, the Boilers have dropped four in a row. They’ve been competitive, for the most part, during the skid, but they have extended periods in each game where turnovers and questionable decision making seals their fate. Purdue gets another chance to stop the slide as they host Minnesota on Wednesday.
Last week: 9
12. Illinois (13-9, 2-7). There was some fighting in the Illini in their latest loss to Iowa. They could’ve caved in after spotting the Hawkeyes a 21-point lead, but they fought back to take the lead. Losers of seven straight, the Illini will welcome another struggling team, the Badgers, on Tuesday.
Last week: 11
– Team records are through February 2 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.|