Power Rankings: State of Indiana owns top of Jon Crispin's first top 10
More Big Ten men’s hoops
Last season, I had a lot of fun with my weekly Big Ten Power Rankings presented by ArcelorMittal. While some of my early season assumptions proved to be correct, many were thrown back in my face on a weekly basis. I try my best to root my perspective and opinion in sound logic and unemotional and unbiased reason, however the “anything can happen” component of college basketball will ultimately prove to be the only truth in the game.
I enjoy the passionate banter we have when these lists come out, and I encourage you to challenge me when you disagree. Especially you Iowa fans. I missed the boat on the Hawkeyes last year, and the friendly Hawkeye fans were quick to let me know. Just remember, I don’t hate your team and I have no vested interest in any team’s success or failure. I have the pleasure of getting to know all of the coaches and players in the Big Ten, personally, and I want them all to be successful. But, this is the Big Ten and there are no participation trophies for showing up. Certainly no ribbons for coming in last.
That being said, here’s what I’m thinking to get the discussion started. (You’ll notice I’m just doing the top 10 this year.)
Editor’s note: Records are through Sunday, Nov.27, action.
1. Indiana (4-1). Clearly the Kansas win earlier this month has a lot to do with this assessment. I believe this team has the highest ceiling of any Big Ten team, as it has one of the most dynamic and balanced offenses in the country. Thomas Bryant, OG Anunoby and Juwan Morgan provide a unique front court of physical dominance and position-less versatility that allows Tom Crean’s offense to shine.
2. Purdue (5-1). It’s impossible to start a conversation about the Boilermakers without first mentioning Isaac Haas and Caleb Swanigan. When Matt Painter’s crew is able to play inside-out….and likely back inside again, this team is nearly impossible to stop in the half court. The sky(line) is the limit yet again for this team.
3. Wisconsin (5-2). Opponents have been successful against the Badgers by packing in their defense to take away easy opportunities for Ethan Happ and Nigel Hayes. Perimeter shots will start to fall, and Greg Gard and Wisconsin will be a national power yet again this season.
4. Michigan (5-1). I’m not sure there’s another team in the country that seems to be having as much fun as the Wolverines. They’re also a joy to watch. As their defense improves, John Beilein’s versatility and depth will truly shine. This is a tough team to match up with at many levels and many positions.
5. Michigan State (4-3). Spartan fans know well enough to be patient with any Tom Izzo coached team. This an incredibly young bunch with limitless potential. Leadership will likely be the key for them all season, but this team will be ready for Big Ten play following another grueling non-conference slate. By thea way: Miles Bridges is on another level.
6. Maryland (7-0). Mark Turgeon is truly excited about this year’s squad. Clearly, that starts with Melo Trimble at the helm, but he likes the depth and balance. As this team continues to build as a cohesive unit, its true potential will be on display. I’d still like to see Melo get more opportunities to create in transition and take advantage of his ability to play off the ball with multiple other ballhandlers present.
7. Ohio State (6-0). The Buckeyes have potential that it would seem even they are not aware of. Marc Loving, JaQuan Lyle and Jae’Sean Tate have to be assertive leaders on both ends of the court for this team to be NCAA tournament bound in March.
8. Northwestern *(4-2). Is this the year for Northwestern? I’ve got them here for now, which gives them a shot. Bryant McIntosh is terrific and getting Vic Law back from last year’s season-ending injury is huge. This one of the most athletic and deepest teams I’ve ever seen in Evanston, and I can’t commend Chris Collins and his staff enough for what they’ve been able to build.
9. Iowa (3-3). Peter Jok has shown us all that jump-shooters will always have a spot on the floor at any level in basketball. His ability to make shots from anywhere on the court frees up opportunities for a talented, yet inexperienced, core. Tyler Cook is a real game-changer too. Strength, energy and versatility….a dangerous combination.
10. Illinois (4-3). The Illini are still my dark horse in the Big Ten, but they’ve got to start turning it on now. The potential is there. They’re experienced and are, literally, old. The key will be for the Illini to figure out how to play hard but play fearlessly. Their talent, depth, experience and length should put John Groce in a good position to bring back some excitement in Champaign.