Power Rankings: Iowa breaks into top 5 of Jon Crispin's list
After three straight weeks of a new No. 1, sizzling Purdue remains atop my latest Big Ten Power Rankings, presented by ArcelorMittal.
The entire top four remains the same, actually, while surging Iowa moves up one and into the top 5.
See my full latest list below.
1. Purdue (17-6, 10-2). Not only are the Boilers winners of eight straight and just one-half game off the pace, but the remaining schedule is not as daunting as that of Michigan and Michigan State. The biggest remaining test comes on the road Tuesday at Maryland.
Last week: 1
2. Michigan (22-2, 11-2). The production from Jon Teske and Charles Matthews against Wisconsin gave us a glimpse into how good the Wolverines can be when they play with consistency and balance on the offensive end. The remaining conference schedule will prepare them for a run in March.
Last week: 2
3. Michigan State (19-5, 10-3). I toyed with moving Wisconsin ahead of Michigan State this week, but I’ll wait for their Tuesday night matchup to make any decisions. The Spartans have to accept that their margin for error has decreased and discipline and execution are required to stay in the top 4 in the B1G standings.
Last week: 3
4. Wisconsin (17-7, 9-4). The experience and identity the Badgers possess give them the edge in conference play. They’ve gotten more consistent contribution from Brad Davison and Nate Reuvers, and discipline, physicality and intensity has picked up on the defensive end.
Last week: 4
5. Iowa (19-5, 8-5). The Hawkeyes found a way to win a game against Northwestern when they didn’t play their best, until late in the game. Comeback games can be season-defining moments, and I feel like that game gives them the confidence they need to finish strong.
Last week: 6
6. Maryland (18-6, 9-4). As much as I like the Terps, their next 3 games (vs. Purdue; at Michigan; vs. Iowa) will be a battle to maintain confidence and momentum. This stretch may determine their final standing and their mindset heading into the conference tournament and postseason play.
Last week: 5
7. Ohio State (16-7, 6-6). The Buckeyes picked up a much-needed win on the road at Indiana, and they did so with simple execution down the stretch. The development of Luther Muhammad gives them a strong defender and terrific driver on the offensive end.
Last week: 8
8. Minnesota (16-8, 6-7). The Gophers have great potential but have let a few opportunities slip away this year. If you’re looking for a positive, there are a number of good potential wins on the schedule that could help them secure a spot in the field of 68.
Last week: 7
9. Illinois (9-15, 5-8). The Illini will make a huge jump next season. Giorgi Bezhanishvili, Ayo Dosunmu and Trent Frazier make up a formidable core, and many others have grown in both comfort and consistency as the season has progressed. I would not want to be matched up against the Illini in next month’s B1G tourney.
Last week: 11
10. Indiana (13-11, 4-9). Consistency and offensive continuity has been the issue for the Hoosiers. While the season can be defined by the numerous injuries, there’s still great potential with the personnel on the floor. There’s still plenty of opportunity to pick up good wins with Purdue, Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan State remaining.
Last week: 9
11. Rutgers (11-12, 4-9). The Scarlet Knights showed us something in their overtime loss at Illinois. That would be that they can score and play an up-tempo game. This is further proof of the development and adaptability of a Rutgers program on the rise. Rutgers has a chance to avoid Wednesday play at the B1G Tournament with a couple more wins.
Last week: 10
12. Northwestern (12-11, 3-9). The loss at Iowa may be the back-breaker. When the defense is good and the offense moves the ball and plays through Dererk Pardon, the Wildcats are a dangerous team. I’ll be interested to gauge their mindset following the heart-breaking loss at Iowa.
Last week: 13
13. Nebraska (13-11, 3-10). Although the Huskers are still in consideration in the NET, the play on the floor puts them out of contention for a NCAA tourney bid. The expectations were understandably high following a top-4 finish in the conference last season. Losing Isaac Copeland for the season exposes the ever-present lack of depth and bench production.
Last week: 12
14. Penn State (8-15, 1-11). The potential of this team is still very high. Experienced guard play is needed as the inconsistency around the perimeter creates and imbalance on the floor, which becomes easy to defend. Jamari Wheeler may have his limitations on the offensive end, but he, along with Josh Reaves, makes the Nittany Lions a brutal team to attack.
Last week: 14