Jon Crispin, BTN men's basketball analyst, January 7, 2019
The return of Big Ten play saw three teams suffer their first conference defeat. That leaves two unbeatens: Michigan and Michigan State, both 4-0.
Get my latest Big Ten Power Rankings, presented by ArcelorMittal, below.
1. Michigan (15-0, 4-0). This program is a machine. Anyone who plays is in a position to contribute. I struggle to find holes in the Wolverine basketball program.
Last week: 1
2. Michigan State (13-2, 4-0). Cassius Winston is working his way toward the top of the B1G POY conversation. Balance will be the key to their success.
Last week: 2
3. Ohio State (12-3, 3-1). The Buckeyes operate with discipline, diligence, poise and purpose. Even after losing last year's B1G POY (Keita Bates-Diop), there's no drop-off.
Last week: 3
4. Indiana (12-3, 3-1). I see issues with the offense and with the slow starts, but I see the remedy in PG Rob Phinisee returning from injury. The ceiling is high.
Last week: 7
5. Wisconsin (11-4, 3-1). As the Badgers find consistency from the perimeter, there will be less pressure on Ethan Happ and less focus on the late-game foul shooting woes.
Last week: 4
6. Maryland (12-3, 3-1). I always felt that this team had great potential, but didn't see the Terps being this far along at this point of the season. Bruno Fernando and "Sticks" are formidable in their own way.
Last week: 9
7. Minnesota (12-2, 2-1). The Gophers have quietly compiled a 12-2 record, and at some point they'll show up on everyone's radar as a legitimate contender.
Last week: 8
8. Purdue (9-5, 2-1). The Boilermakers are one of the tougher teams to project due to their heavy reliance on Carsen Edwards. Conference play will determine their current style's sustainability.
Last week: 10
9. Nebraska (11-4, 1-3). It sounds like a broken record, but the outcome of the season will be determined by the Huskers' ability to win on the road. All the pieces are in place for a NCAA tourney run.
Last week: 5
10. Iowa (12-3, 1-3). I can see the Hawkeyes anywhere from 4 to 12 in the Big Ten, due to their high-upside and (conversely) their penchant to soften and get carved up on the defensive end.
Last week: 6
11. Northwestern (10-5, 1-3). If Northwestern is at 11, it's not because they aren't good. Rather, it's a testament to how good the conference is. The Wildcats are a few possessions away from being a top-25 team.
Last week: 11
12. Penn State (7-8, 0-4). Not having Mike Watkins early is proving to be an issue, as he has yet to become the player he was in previous seasons. There's great talent, but on-the-floor chemistry and continuity needs to improve.
Last week: 12
13. Illinois (4-11, 0-4). The Illini have been close in many games but struggle to finish the contest with the intensity and discipline they started the contest with. This is part of the learning curve.
Last week: 13
14. Rutgers (7-6, 0-3). As much as the Scarlet Knights are improved from last season, so is the rest of the conference. Maintaining a positive perspective and approach will be a key to their current and future fate.
Last week: 14