Jon Crispin, BTN men's basketball analyst, November 27, 2017
With conference play starting up later this week, Big Ten teams should be looking to clean up execution issues, secure rotations and (ideally) be closer to mid-season form. This past week was a tough week for the conference, with numerous teams losing multiple games that would have appeared to be certain victories.
While it hasn't changed my mind on the quality of those teams, I do have to take a better look at where they are now. I'm sure this week's slate of ACC/B1G Challenge games and the beginning of conference play will change a lot, but here's how I see it at the moment.
View my latest Big Ten Power Rankings, presented by ArcelorMittal, below.
Editor's note: Team records as through Sunday, Nov. 26, action.
1. Michigan State (5-1). A much-improved defense is allowing the Spartans to win games against high-level opponents while they continue to find identity on the offensive end. It's amazing how much better this team is when Joshua Langford and Matt McQuaid make shots.
Last week: 1
2. Minnesota (7-0). I've already tried to forget about that strange finish (to the Alabama game) and focus on what makes this team good. Jordan Murphy is playing on another level, and there are plenty of options in that starting lineup. Continuing to find and establish depth will be a key to their Elite-8 level potential.
Last week: 3
3. Purdue (5-2). I still think the Boilermakers are the second-best team in conference in the end, and the rally against Arizona was a positive sign. But, to be great you've got to believe you are. I didn't see that in the two consecutive losses. Whatever mentality and swagger they brought to the Zona game needs to bottled and sold.
Last week: 2
4. Northwestern (4-2). The Wildcats have their issues pertaining to depth, but their balance and Bryant McIntosh's playmaking ability will prevail. It would surprise me if they finished higher than fifth in the conference. It'll be an interesting week with Georgia Tech and in-state rival Illinois on the calendar.
Last week: 5
5. Maryland (6-1). I'm surprised this team isn't still undefeated, but it may lose a few it should win. That being said, I think they can compete with anyone in the conference. We'll see more after Cuse and Purdue this week.
Last week: 4
6. Michigan (6-1). I have seen this team come together quite a bit over the first month of the season. It is much better when it is able to play with pace and spacing. I can see the Wolverines slipping at times, but there's also still room for improvement.
Last week: 8
7. Wisconsin (3-3). I'm not letting the overall (3-3) record determine where I think this team stacks up in the conference. Plus, the three consecutive losses came against top 25 teams. It's hard to imagine the Badgers finishing any higher. I've been wrong before, though.
Last week: 6
8. Iowa (4-2). Don't be surprised if Iowa is eighth in my power rankings one week and fourth the next. That's what this season may look like, but I'm buying the firepower of this team, especially when it realizes what it takes to win at a high level. Hang in there, Hawkeye fans.
Last week: 7
9. Penn State (6-1). I learned more about the potential of this team in the Texas A&M loss than I have in any of the Nittany Lions' other games. They've got an opportunity to beat an ACC team this week and begin conference play against a struggling yet dangerous Iowa team.
Last week: 9
10. Illinois (6-0). I've got my eye on this team at the moment. The 6-0 start against mediocre teams hasn't shown me much, but there's potential there. Michael Finke and Leron Black secure the frontcourt, but the backcourt play will determine the outcome for the Illini.
Last week: 11
11. Ohio State (5-2). The Buckeyes have shown significant signs of life and improvement since the beginning of the season. Keita Bates-Diop has been much better in the consistency department, and the intensity and attention to detail is much better. It's still the beginning of the process, though.
Last week: 10
12. Indiana (4-2). The Hoosiers have certainly grown a bit from the team we saw lose in their home opener to Indiana State. The problem is, they've got a brutal stretch of games looming: Duke, Michigan, Iowa, Louisville and Notre Dame up next. Ugh!
Last week: 12
13. Nebraska (5-2). It is too soon to say where the ceiling is for this team. There is potential in certain individuals, but the whole needs to be greater than the sum of its parts. The Huskers must be trying to make Indiana feel better about its schedule by trying to match: Boston College, Michigan State, Minnesota, Creighton and Kansas.
Last week: 13
14. Rutgers (6-0). I think we'll learn a lot about the Scarlet Knights against Florida State on Tuesday night. It may take one or two big wins to help this team make the jump forward. It won't be easy as conference play begins with Minnesota and Michigan State.
Last week: 14