Posts Tagged ‘Penn State’

Big Ten power rankings: Week 10

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

As the Big Ten regular season wrapped up on Sunday Michigan was able to sit back and relax having wrapped up the outright conference title by three games and the number one seed in this week’s tournament. The Wolverines will face the winner of the last two teams they faced to close the season, Illinois and Indiana, in the quarterfinals on Friday. The rest of the tournament bracket can be found here

As the conference heads to Indianapolis to battle it out for the automatic NCAA Tournament berth, we took another look at the power rankings.

1. Michigan (23-7, 15-3)  Even
Last week: Mar. 4 W at Illinois 84-53, Mar. 8 W vs Indiana 84-80
This week: BTT quarterfinals Friday vs (8) Indiana or (9) Illinois 12pm ESPN/ESPN2

Michigan finished off an incredible conference season by outlasting Indiana on senior night. Jordan Morgan went out with a bang, recording his first double-double of the season and keeping the Wolverines alive early with critical offensive rebounds. The Big Ten outright champions earned the top seed in the conference tournament after running away from the pack and finishing three games ahead of second-place Wisconsin and Michigan State. 

2. Nebraska (19-11, 11-7) • Up 1
Last week: Mar. 5 W at Indiana 60-50, Mar. 9 W vs #9 Wisconsin 77-68
This week: BTT quarterfinals Friday vs (5) Ohio State or (12) Purdue 2:25pm ESPN/ESPN2

In its biggest game of the season Sunday, Nebraska beat Wisconsin to finish the year with a league-best 15-1 home record. Incredibly, the preseason pick to finish dead last in the Big Ten earned a first-round bye in the conference tournament and landed just one game out of second place. 

3. Wisconsin (25-6, 12-6) • Down 1
Last week: Mar. 5 W vs Purdue 76-70, Mar. 9 L at Nebraska 68-77
This week: BTT quarterfinals Friday vs (7) Minnesota or (10) Penn State 6:30pm BTN

Bo Ryan’s Badgers had their eyes set on a prize outside the Big Ten: A No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. A nine-point loss to Nebraska seemingly eliminated Wisconsin from that discussion, but it still earned the second seed in the conference tournament after an 8-1 finish.

4. Michigan State (23-8, 12-6) • Up 3
Last week: Mar. 6 W vs #24 Iowa 86-76, Mar. 9 L at Ohio State 67-69
This week: BTT quarterfinals Friday vs (6) Iowa or (11) Northwestern 8:55pm BTN

Michigan State looked like it was back on track after a win over Iowa on senior night. However, a loss to Ohio State in the regular season finale dropped the Spartans to just 5-7 in their last 12 games and 1-2 since sending a healthy starting lineup back on the court.

5. Ohio State (23-8, 10-8) • Up 3
Last week: Mar. 9 W vs #22 Michigan State 69-67
This week: BTT first round Thursday vs (12) Purdue 2:25pm BTN

At the beginning of the conference schedule, Sunday’s Michigan State-Ohio State game looked like a potential shootout for the regular season championship. In reality, the game meant very little to the final Big Ten standings. But Aaron Craft did get a win on senior night, and the Buckeyes just barely managed to finish above .500 in the conference.

6. Illinois (18-13, 7-11) • Down 1
Last week: Mar. 4 L vs #12 Michigan 53-84, Mar. 8 W at #24 Iowa 66-63
This week: BTT first round Thursday vs (8) Indiana 12pm BTN

John Groce’s team could’ve thrown in the towel after a nine-game losing streak planted it firmly in last place. Instead, the Illini rallied and won four of their last five games, all of which were against NCAA Tournament hopefuls (Minnesota is the only non-lock at this point).

7. Minnesota (19-12, 8-10) • Up 2
Last week: Mar. 9 W vs Penn State 81-63
This week: BTT first round Thursday vs (10) Penn State 6:30pm ESPN2

Minnesota put itself into a very tough position heading into the final weekend of the regular season. Losses in nine of 14 games put Minnesota on the outside of the tournament bubble looking in with just a home game against Penn State left. The Gophers did what they had to do, blowing out the Nittany Lions 81-63, but it still may not be enough.

8. Iowa (22-11, 9-9) • Down 2
Last week: Mar. 6 L at #22 Michigan State 76-86, Mar. 8 L vs Illinois 63-66
This week: BTT first round Thursday vs (11) Northwestern 8:55pm ESPN2

Near the midway point of the season, Iowa was ranked in the top 10 of the AP poll and competing for a Big Ten championship. After five losses in its final six games, this team is reeling at the worst possible time. Iowa drew a favorable matchup in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, facing a Northwestern team that it beat by 26 points — twice.

9. Indiana (17-14, 7-11) • Down 5
Last week: Mar. 5 L vs Nebraska 60-70, Mar. 8 L at #12 Michigan 80-84
This week: BTT first round Thursday vs (9) Illinois 12pm BTN

The preseason top-25 Hoosiers know there’s only one route to the Big Dance now: winning the conference tournament. Indiana dropped its last two games to land in the No. 8 slot in Indianapolis and a matchup against the streaking Fighting Illini.

10. Penn State (15-16, 6-12) • Even
Last week: Mar. 6 W at Northwestern 59-32, Mar. 9 L at Minnesota 63-81
This week: BTT first round Thursday vs (7) Minnesota 6:30pm ESPN2

Minnesota waxed Penn State in the final road game for the Nittany Lions, but they still managed to finish the conference season with a 6-6 record in the final 12 games after losing the first six. Penn State drew a rematch against the Gophers in the first round Thursday — a chance to strengthen its NIT resume.

11. Northwestern (13-18, 6-12) • Up 1
Last week: Mar. 6 L vs Penn State 32-59, Mar. 9 W at Purdue 74-65
This week: BTT first round Thursday vs (6) Iowa 8:55pm ESPN2

Northwestern quietly earned a big road win on Sunday to stay out of the cellar and finish 11th in the Big Ten. The Wildcats held much higher expectations after a 5-5 start, but a seven-game losing streak put any hopes of contending quickly to rest.

12. Purdue (15-16, 5-3) • Down 1
Last week: Mar. 5 L at #9 Wisconsin 70-76, Mar. 9 L vs Northwestern 65-74
This week: BTT first round Thursday vs (5) Ohio State 2:25pm BTN

Matt Painter’s team sure hit rock bottom this season. After nearly dethroning the first-place Michigan Wolverines two weeks ago, Purdue had its heart ripped out and lost its three final games. The Boilermakers finished the season by losing 11 of 13 games, including the final six.

Stauskas, Beilein earn top honors, Wolverines re-enter top 10

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Big Ten champs celebration

Nik Stauskas became Michigan’s second straight Big Ten Player of the Year the conference announced on Monday evening. The sophomore was voted the top honor by both the coaches and media, following Trey Burke who won the award a year ago. Stauskas has averaged 17.4 points, 3.5 assists, and 3.3 rebounds per game this season with 13 games of 20 or more points. He is the only Big Ten player to rank in the top 10 in field goal percentage (48.9), three-point percentage (45.8), and free throw percentage (81.1).

Stauskas was also a unanimous selection to the All-Big Ten first team and named to the Sporting News All-America second team.

In addition, John Beilein was named Big Ten Coach of the Year by the media, becoming the first Michigan coach to win the award since Bill Frieder in 1985. Johnny Orr also accomplished the feat in 1974 and ’77. Nebraska’s Tim Miles was awarded the honor by the coaches.

Caris LeVert was named to the All-Big Ten second team  after averaging 13.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game. Glenn Robinson III garnered honorable mention honors, averaging 13.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game. Derrick Walton Jr. was named to the all-freshman team, averaging 8.1 points, 2.9 assists, and 2.9 rebounds per game. This is the fourth straight season the Wolverines have had a player on the all-freshman team (Robinson III in 2013, Burke in 2012, and Tim Hardaway Jr in 2011).

Below are the full All-Big Ten teams as selected by both the coaches and the media.

All-Big Ten first team
Coaches Media
Name School Name School
Nik Stauskas* Michigan Nik Stauskas* Michigan
Roy Devyn Marble Iowa Roy Devyn Marble Iowa
Gary Harris Michigan State Gary Harris Michigan State
Terran Pettaway Nebraska Terran Pettaway Nebraska
Frank Kaminsky Wisconsin Frank Kaminsky Wisconsin
All-Big Ten second team
Coaches Media
Name School Name School
Yogi Ferrell Indiana Yogi Ferrell Indiana
Caris LeVert Michigan Caris LeVert Michigan
Adreian Payne Michigan State Adreian Payne Michigan State
D.J. Newbill Penn State D.J. Newbill Penn State
Sam Dekker Wisconsin Aaron Craft Ohio State
All-Big Ten third team
Coaches Media
Name School Name School
Noah Vonleh Indiana Noah Vonleh Indiana
Aaron White Iowa Aaron White Iowa
Aaron Craft Ohio State Drew Crawford Northwestern
LaQuinton Ross Ohio State Tim Frazier Penn State
Tim Frazier Penn State Sam Dekker Wisconsin
All-Big Ten honorable mention
Coaches Media
Name School Name School
Rayvonte Rice Illinois Rayvonte Rice Illinois
Glenn Robinson III Michigan Glenn Robinson III Michigan
Keith Appling Michigan State Will Sheehey Indiana
Denzel Valentine Michigan State Keith Appling Michigan State
Andre Hollins Minnesota Denzel Valentine Michigan State
Shavon Shields Nebraska Andre Hollins Minnesota
Drew Crawford Northwestern DeAndre Mathieu Minnesota
A.J. Hammons Purdue Shavon Shields Nebraska
Ben Brust Wisconsin LaQuinton Ross Ohio State
A.J. Hammons Purdue
Ben Brust Wisconsin
Josh Gasser Wisconsin
Traevon Jackson Wisconsin
All-Big Ten all-freshman team Sportsmanship Award honorees
Name School Name School
Kendrick Nunn Illinois Joseph Bertrand Illinois
Noah Vonleh Indiana Will Sheehey Indiana
Derrick Walton Jr. Michigan Mike Gesell Iowa
Kendall Stephens Purdue Jon Horford Michigan
Nigel Hayes Wisconsin Denzel Valentine Michigan State
All-Big Ten defensive team Austin Hollins Minnesota
Name School Shavon Shields Nebraska
Gary Harris Michigan State Drew Crawford Northwestern
Aaron Craft Ohio State Lenzelle Smith Jr. Ohio State
Shannon Scott Ohio State Tim Frazier Penn State
A.J. Hammons Purdue Travis Carroll Purdue
Josh Gasser Wisconsin Ben Brust Wisconsin
*Unanimous selection

Michigan also moved back into the top 10 in both polls, checking in at No. 8 in the AP Poll and No. 9 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. It is the first time the Wolverines have been in the top 10 since the first week of February when they reached 10th.

Wisconsin’s loss to Nebraska on Sunday dropped the Badgers below Michigan, to 12th and 13th. Michigan State remains at 22nd in both polls for the second straight week, while Ohio State moves back in at 24th in both. Iowa dropped out.

As for Michigan’s non-conference opponents, Arizona dropped one spot to fourth in both polls, fell to seventh and sixth, and Iowa State is still 16th in both.

The full national rankings are below.

AP Poll Coaches Poll
Rank Team Rank Team
1 Florida (29-2) 1 Florida (29-2)
2 Wichita State (34-0) 2 Wichita State (34-0)
3 Villanova (28-3) 3 Villanova (28-3)
4 Arizona (28-3) 4 Arizona (28-3)
5 Louisville (26-5) 5 Louisville (26-5)
6 Virginia (25-6) 6 Duke (24-7)
7 Duke (24-7) 7 San Diego State (27-3)
8 Michigan (23-7) 8 Virginia (25-6)
8 San Diego State (27-3) 9 Michigan (23-7)
10 Kansas (23-8) 10 Kansas (23-8)
11 Syracuse (27-4) 11 Syracuse (27-4)
12 Wisconsin (25-6) 12 Cincinnati (26-5)
13 Cincinnati (26-5) 13 Wisconsin (25-6)
14 Creighton (24-6) 14 Creighton (24-6)
15 North Carolina (23-8) 15 North Carolina (23-8)
16 Iowa State (23-7) 16 Iowa State (23-7)
17 Oklahoma (23-8) 17 Saint Louis (26-5)
18 Saint Louis (26-5) 18 Oklahoma (23-8)
19 Memphis (23-8) 19 Memphis (23-8)
20 New Mexico (24-6) 20 New Mexico (24-6)
21 Connecticut (24-7) 21 Connecticut (24-7)
22 Michigan State (23-8) 22 Michigan State (23-8)
23 Virginia Commonwealth (24-7) 23 Southern Methodist (23-8)
24 Ohio State (23-8) 24 Ohio State (23-8)
25 Southern Methodist (23-8) 25 Virginia Commonwealth (24-7)

Big Ten Tournament bracket: Michigan the top seed

Sunday, March 9th, 2014


Big Ten power rankings: Week 9

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

This week’s edition of the Big Ten power rankings features more movement than usual as the conference continues to deal surprise after surprise. With March upon us, teams that play well down the stretch often outperform teams with more impressive overall resumes in postseason tournaments.

While teams like Michigan State, Ohio State and Iowa will certainly make the field of 68, playing poorly in late February and early March can really take the steam out of a potential deep run in the Big Dance. Meanwhile, teams that streak into the tournament on the final days of the season (Nebraska? Indiana?) represent extremely dangerous matchups.

So here’s how the Big Ten teams are playing with less than a week remaining before they head to Indianapolis.

1. Michigan (21-7, 13-3)  Even
Last week: Feb. 26 W at Purdue 77-76 OT, Mar. 1 W vs Minnesota 66-56
This week: Tuesday at Illinois 7pm ESPN, Saturday vs Indiana 6pm 

The in-state rival Spartans lost just before tip-off in Ann Arbor on Saturday, and after Michigan took care of Minnesota, it officially clinched at least a share of the regular season Big Ten championship. John Beilein’s surprise team can seal the title alone with a win at Illinois tonight or against Indiana on Saturday. 

2. Wisconsin (24-5, 11-5) • Even
Last week: Feb. 25 W vs Indiana 69-58, Mar. 2 W at Penn State 71-66
This week: Wednesday vs Purdue 9pm BTN, Sunday at Nebraska 7:30pm 

History shows that no matter what happens early in the season, a hot team is dangerous in March. The Badgers are red-hot heading into the final week of conference play, riding a seven-game winning streak and tied with Michigan State for second place in the Big Ten. Wisconsin could represent the most dangerous team in the conference, but clinching a share of the title gave Michigan the nod at No. 1 for now. 

3. Nebraska (17-11, 9-7) • Up 4
Last week: Feb. 26 L at Illinois 49-60, Mar. 1 W vs Northwestern 54-47
This week: Wednesday at Indiana 7pm BTN, Sunday vs #9 Wisconsin 7:30pm

Despite last week’s loss to Illinois, which looks slightly less egregious after the Illini won in East Lansing on Saturday, Nebraska finds itself contending for a first-round bye in Indianapolis. Tim Miles’s team held off Northwestern on Saturday and can secure a winning conference record with a win in either of its final two games (at Indiana on Wednesday or against Wisconsin on Sunday).

4. Indiana (17-12, 7-9) • Up 4
Last week: Feb. 25 L at #14 Wisc. 58-69, Feb. 27 W vs #20 Iowa 93-86, Mar. 2 W vs #22 OSU 72-64
This week: Wednesday vs Nebraska 7pm BTN, Saturday at #12 Michigan 6pm

Don’t look now, but Indiana is making the run that Big Ten fans were waiting for. Indiana knocked off two straight top-25 teams last week to keep its dim tournament hopes alive. They may not recover from the 3-7 stretch that plagued the heart of their conference schedule, but the Hoosiers aren’t going down without a fight. It may take a win in Ann Arbor in the season finale to put Indiana over the hump.

5. Iowa (17-12, 6-10) • Up 3
Last week: Feb. 26 W vs Nebraska 60-49, Mar. 1 W at #18 Michigan State 53-46
This week: Tuesday vs #12 Michigan 7pm ESPN, Saturday at #24 Iowa 8:30pm

John Groce waited nearly two whole months of Big Ten play for his team to show some life, and although it’s likely too late to join an already-crowded NCAA Tournament bubble, Illinois played spoiler three times in the past two weeks. A win over Michigan State in East Lansing proved the most impressive feat for Illinois on the season, but beating Minnesota and Nebraska the week before was more nationally significant, as both teams have tournament hopes that hang by a thread.

6. Iowa (20-9, 9-7) • Down 1
Last week: Feb. 25 L at Minnesota 89-95, Feb. 27 L at Indiana 86-93, Mar. 2 W vs Purdue 83-76
This week: Thursday at #22 Michigan State 9pm ESPN, Saturday vs Illinois 8:30pm

When both Michigan and Michigan State faltered on their home courts on Feb. 16, Iowa climbed to within one game of the conference co-leaders in the loss column. The Hawkeyes responded by losing their next three games and falling completely out of contention. After struggling to beat Purdue at home, Iowa looks to take advantage of an equally-wounded Spartan squad on Thursday.

7. Michigan State (22-7, 11-5) • Down 3
Last week: Mar. 1 L vs Illinois 46-53
This week: Thursday vs #24 Iowa 9pm ESPN, Sunday at Ohio State 4:30pm

All season long Tom Izzo stuck to the same story: when Michigan State returned all of its injured players, the miraculous turnaround would begin. Well on Saturday Adreian Payne, Keith Appling and Branden Dawson all played against Illinois and the Spartans lost on their home court, and scored just 46 points in the process. The time to start worrying about Michigan State has arrived, as it has dropped six of its last 10 games, with half of those coming at home.

8. Ohio State (22-8, 9-8) • Down 5
Last week: Feb. 27 L at Penn State 63-65, Mar. 2 L at Indiana 64-72
This week: Sunday vs #22 Michigan State 4:30pm CBS

The last time Ohio State lost to Penn State, it responded by winning six of its next seven games. This time, the Buckeyes followed up with a loss to Indiana. Unfortunately for Thad Matta’s squad, the most glaring part of the statement is that the Buckeyes have lost to the 5-11 Nittany Lions twice.

9. Minnesota (18-12, 7-10) • Down 3
Last week: Feb. 25 W vs #20 Iowa 95-89, Mar. 1 L at #16 Michigan 56-66
This week: Saturday vs Penn State 8:30pm

Minnesota nearly punched its NCAA Tournament ticket for good Saturday when a furious second-half charge brought it to within two points of first-place Michigan. The visible frustration on coach Richard Pitino’s face as the game slipped away perfectly sums up the remainder of his team’s season. Minnesota will sit and watch the rest of the bubble teams play during the week before hosting Penn State in a game that does little to strengthen its tournament resume. As Joe Lunardi’s “last team in,” this stressful week could turn Pitino’s hair a few shades closer to his father’s.

10. Penn State (14-15, 5-11) • Up 1
Last week: Feb. 27 W vs #22 Ohio State 65-63, Mar. 2 L vs #14 Wisconsin 66-71
This week: Thursday at Northwestern 7pm ESPNU, Saturday at Minnesota 8:30pm

Though Penn State is unlikely to win its final two road games and finish the season with an overall .500 record, it did complete a sweep of the preseason No. 11 Buckeyes on Thursday. After losing their first six conference games, the Nittany Lions can settle for morale victories.

11. Purdue (15-14, 5-11) • Down 1
Last week: Feb. 26 L vs #16 Michigan 76-77 OT, Mar. 2 L vs #20 Iowa 76-83
This week: Wednesday at #9 Wisconsin 9pm BTN, Sunday vs Northwestern 12pm

Purdue played both Michigan and Iowa to the end last week, but the end result was two losses, bringing the streak to a total of four. The Boilermakers’ last chance to play spoiler against a tournament team comes on Wednesday, when they travel to Madison to battle the streaking Badgers.

12. Northwestern (12-17, 5-11) • Even
Last week: Mar. 1 L at Nebraska 47-54
This week: Thursday vs Penn State 7pm ESPNU, Sunday at Purdue 12pm

Northwestern crashed and burned after a strong start to the conference season, currently riding a six-game losing streak. The Wildcats do have an opportunity to finish on a positive note as the final two regular-season games come against fellow last place Big Ten opponents.

Big Ten title race down to three

Friday, February 28th, 2014

UM crowd vs MSU 2-23-14

As February comes to a close and perhaps the greatest month in all of sports approaches, the Big Ten men’s basketball conference remains as unpredictable as ever.

Nearly two weeks ago, the would-be headliner battle between the two Michigan schools that topped the standings all season long suffered a major blow when Michigan fell to Wisconsin and Nebraska shocked Michigan State in East Lansing. Meanwhile, Nebraska put together a five-game winning streak to burst onto the NCAA bubble, only to lose to lowly Illinois and see it all slip away. Even the Iowa-Indiana game scheduled for Feb. 18 proved unpredictable, as an eight-foot beam that fell from the Assembly Hall ceiling postponed the game for over a week.

With less than two weeks remaining in the regular season, the standings usually provide a clearer picture of what the conference tournament will feature. But in the midst of such an erratic regular season, more surprises surely lie ahead, right?

Spoiler alert: This year’s Big Ten regular season championship is Michigan’s to lose.

Remaining schedule for Big Ten title contenders
Michigan Michigan State Wisconsin
Saturday vs Minnesota, 6pm BTN vs Illinois, 4pm ESPN
Sunday at Penn State, 12pm BTN
Tuesday, Mar. 4 at Illinois, 7pm ESPN
Wednesday, Mar. 5 vs Purdue, 9pm BTN
Thursday, Mar. 6 vs Iowa, 9pm ESPN
Saturday, Mar. 8 vs Indiana, 6pm ESPN
Sunday, Mar. 9 at Ohio State, 4:30pm CBS at Nebraska, 7:30pm BTN

After the victory to sweep Tom Izzo’s Spartans, Michigan firmly planted itself atop the conference with four winnable games remaining.

A trip to Purdue, which provided the most difficult remaining challenge, ended with a miracle in-bounds play for the Wolverines, who snuck out of West Lafayette unscathed, much to the chagrin of championship hopefuls Michigan State and Wisconsin.

Now the only teams standing in Michigan’s way are 5-9 Indiana, 5-10 Illinois, and a struggling Minnesota team with just two conference road wins against the league’s last place squads. John Beilein’s one-game lead should hold up and bring Michigan the long-awaited sole Big Ten title.

But outcomes rarely go according to plan in the 2013-14 edition of the Big Ten. If the first place Wolverines do drop any of their final three games, what does it mean?

Iowa’s loss at Indiana on Thursday night and Ohio State’s loss at Penn State made it mathematically official: the only two teams left to challenge Michigan are Michigan State (one game behind) and Wisconsin (two).

Michigan's last-second win over Purdue on Wednesday kept the Wolverines on track for the outright Big Ten title (Dustin Johnson, UMHoops)

Michigan’s last-second win over Purdue on Wednesday kept the Wolverines on track for the outright Big Ten title (Dustin Johnson, UMHoops)

Let’s say Michigan finishes the season by winning two of its final three games. Regardless of what Wisconsin does in its final three games, the Badgers would fall short of the Wolverines, having already lost five times in the Big Ten.

A Michigan loss would, however, leave the door open for Michigan State, which could finish the season in a tie and, despite earning the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament, boast a share of the regular season championship. But the Spartans face a one of the toughest stretch runs in the Big Ten.

Michigan State played sub-.500 basketball in the month of February, losing four of seven games. The Breslin Center lost some of its esteem after Nebraska came in and bullied the Spartans last weekend, so a matchup with the desperate Hawkeyes on March 6 could challenge Izzo’s battered team. Iowa’s current three-game losing streak compliment’s Michigan State’s struggles to set up a surprisingly important matchup in the final week of the season.

Days later, the Spartans travel to Columbus in what Big Ten officials probably expected to be a conference-deciding game against Ohio State. However, a sweep at the hands of bottom-feeding Penn State dropped Thad Matta’s team well out of contention, and barring a Michigan loss, this game provides little importance in the bigger picture.

If Michigan does lose, then Ohio State earns a chance to play spoiler for Michigan State and help its hated rival from Ann Arbor. Michigan State hasn’t won back-to-back games since Jan. 21 when a win over Indiana marked its 11th straight at the time. Michigan ended that streak.

Clearly, Michigan State’s quest for a Big Ten title remains an uphill battle.

Wisconsin, unlike the Spartans, plays a much easier schedule to finish the season. Penn State and Purdue, both tied for last place, figure to provide little resistance for Wisconsin next week, setting up an important trip to Lincoln on March 9.

Nebraska’s only loss in the new Pinnacle Bank Arena came at the hands of the first-place Wolverines, who snuck out of Lincoln with a 71-70 win on Jan. 9 after the Huskers missed three layup attempts in the closing seconds. Despite the loss at Illinois on Wednesday, Nebraska’s five-game winning streak puts it tied for fourth place in the loss column in the conference. With a Big Ten record that matches Iowa’s and a nearly-perfect home resume, Nebraska provides a real challenge for Wisconsin to finish the regular season.

Even the most unpredictable conference standings take shape near the end of the season. Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin played well enough through 15 Big Ten games to stay alive into March, but Michigan represents the clear-cut favorite with less than two weeks to go.

The Wolverines may win all three remaining games and leave no room for another contender to catch up. But even if the surprising Big Ten serves up another upset, the odds lie in Michigan’s favor.

Big Ten power rankings: Week 8

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

1. Michigan (20-7, 12-3)  Up 2
Last week: Feb. 23 W vs 13 Michigan State 79-70
This week: Wednesday W at Purdue 77-76 OTSaturday vs Minnesota 6pm BTN

In the biggest game in the Big Ten this season, Michigan completed a sweep against conference co-leader Michigan State and regained sole possession of first place. The Wolverines then avoided disaster on Wednesday night at Purdue thanks to a last-second bank shot from Glenn Robinson III. 

2. Wisconsin (23-5, 10-5) • Down 1
Last week: Feb. 22 W at #15 Iowa 79-74
This week: Tuesday W vs Indiana 69-58, Sunday at Penn State 12pm BTN

The Badgers had another tremendous week, knocking off Iowa on the road and bouncing back from a poor 19-point first half performance to hold off Indiana on Monday. Wisconsin owns the longest current winning streak in the Big Ten at six. 

3. Ohio State (22-6, 9-6) • Up 3
Last week: Feb. 19 W vs Northwestern 76-60, Feb. 22 W vs Minnesota 64-46
This week: Thursday at Penn State 7pm ESPN2, Sunday at Indiana 4pm

Sam Thomson and the Buckeyes have quietly reclaimed one of the top four spots in the Big Ten. With wins in six of its past seven games, Ohio State sits in position to earn a first-round bye in the conference tournament.

4. Michigan State (22-6, 11-4) • Up 1
Last week: Feb. 20 W vs Purdue 94-79, Feb. 23 L at Michigan 70-79
This week: Saturday vs Illinois 4pm ESPN

The Spartans continued their recent trend of losing every other game when they dropped another game to the Wolverines in Ann Arbor on Saturday. Michigan State is likely to get back on track Saturday against Illinois.

5. Iowa (19-8, 8-6) • Down 3
Last week: Feb. 22 L vs #16 Wisconsin 74-79
This week: Tuesday L at Minnesota 89-95, Thursday at Indiana 9pm ESPN, Sunday vs Purdue 2:05pm

For the first time all season, Iowa has lost two straight games and dropped to fifth in the Big Ten behind Ohio State and Wisconsin. The makeup game in Assembly Hall Thursday night could be a make-or-break game for Iowa’s hopes of earning a first-round Big Ten Tournament bye.

6. Minnesota (18-11, 7-9) • Up 1
Last week: Feb.19 L vs Illinois 49-62, Feb. 22 L at #24 Ohio State 46-64
This week: Tuesday W vs #20 Iowa 95-89, Saturday at #16 Michigan 6pm BTN

Richard Pitino’s team found its back up against the wall on Monday after dropping eight of its last 12 Big Ten games. The Gophers somehow found a way to hold on against Iowa and move back on the right side of the NCAA bubble, for now.

7. Nebraska (16-11, 8-7) • Down 3
Last week: Feb. 20 W vs Penn State 80-67, Feb. 23 W vs Purdue 76-57
This week: Wednesday L at Illinois 49-60, Saturday vs Northwestern 5pm ESPNU

Just when it looked like Nebraska’s Cinderella story run to the NCAA Tournament could become a reality, it dropped a must-have game to Illinois. Now only a deep conference tournament run could put Tim Miles’s crew back in the conversation.

8. Illinois (16-12, 5-10) • Up 3
Last week: Feb. 19 W at Minnesota 62-49
This week: Wednesday W vs Nebraska 60-49, Saturday at #18 Michigan State 4pm ESPN

After losing 10 of 11 games during the heart of the Big Ten season, Illinois has no chance of earning an at-large bid into the Dance. But the Fighting Illini are bursting a few other Big Ten bubbles with wins over Minnesota and Nebraska in the past week.

9. Indiana (15-12, 5-9) • Up 3
Last week: Feb. 22 W at Northwestern 61-56
This week: Tuesday L at #14 Wisconsin 58-69, Thursday vs #20 Iowa 9pm, Sunday vs #22 Ohio State 4pm

It was a great week for Indiana basketball. Not only did the Hoosiers pick up a road win against Northwestern, but Assembly Hall has been repaired and deemed safe enough to play the previously-scheduled game against Iowa on Thursday.

10. Purdue (15-13, 5-10) • Down 2
Last week: Feb. 20 L vs #13 Michigan State 79-94, Feb. 23 L at Nebraska 57-76
This week: Wednesday L vs #16 Michigan 76-77 OT, Sunday at #20 Iowa 2:05pm BTN

Purdue missed a golden opportunity at a marquee win on Wednesday night after getting waxed in back-to-back games by Michigan State and Nebraska. Purdue’s schedule doesn’t get any easier after the overtime loss as trips to Iowa and Wisconsin loom.

11. Penn State (13-14, 4-10) • Down 1
Last week: Feb. 20 L at Nebraska 67-80
This week: Thursday vs #22 Ohio State 7pm ESPN2, Sunday vs #14 Wisconsin 12pm

Pat Chambers’s team is reeling after a 13-point loss at the hands of Nebraska. The Nittany Lions have a chance to sweep Ohio State when the Buckeyes visit State College on Thursday.

12. Northwestern (12-16, 5-10) • Down 3
Last week: Feb. 19 L at #24 Ohio State 60-76, Feb. 22 L vs Indiana 56-61
This week: Saturday at Nebraska 5pm ESPNU 

Remember when four out of five wins put Northwestern in the top four spots in the conference? Now the only cause for celebration in Evanston is that the Wildcats get to host the proverbial last-place game against Penn State next week.

Your Big Ten hoops rooting guide for the rest of the week

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Michigan’s win over Michigan State on Sunday put the Wolverines in sole possession of their Big Ten title destiny, and as Drew described in this morning’s Inside the Numbers post, Michigan now has a 93.9 percent chance of earning at least a share of the conference crown.

Less than two weeks remain in the regular season, and beginning tonight we will have a rooting interest in the three or four games that each of the remaining contenders have left. Of course, if Michigan takes care of business and wins all four of its games, what Michigan State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio State, and Nebraska do is irrelevant. However, since the Wolverines have split each of their last eight games we can’t count on that happening. So here’s the schedule for the next two weeks and who to root for and against.

Tuesday, Feb. 25

Iowa at Minnesota, 7 p.m., Big Ten Network

Iowa stands two-and-a-half games back of Michigan in the Big Ten hunt, so one more loss will virtually knock them out of the race. Of their five games remaining, three are away and this is probably the most winnable of the three. We might want some Iowa help next week, so let’s just go ahead and root for them to lose tonight and get knocked out of title contention.

Root for: Minnesota

Indiana at Wisconsin, 9 p.m., ESPN

It’s unlikely that Indiana can go into the Kohl Center and beat Wisconsin, especially with the way the Badgers have been playing lately, but with Wisconsin just two games back of Michigan our rooting interest is for the Hoosiers. One Wisconsin loss will essentially eliminate them from contention, so hope Indiana gets hot and puts Bo Ryan’s squad to rest.

Root for: Indiana

Wednesday, Feb. 26

Michigan at Purdue, 7 p.m., Big Ten Network

A Michigan win would guarantee the Wolverines a record of no worse than 12-6, which still isn’t good enough to clinch the Big Ten title just yet, but it would clear one of two remaining road hurdles out of the way.

Nebraska at Illinois, 9 p.m., Big Ten Network 

Nebraska is the least likely of Michigan’s five title challengers to catch the Wolverines at three games back, and one loss would do the trick. Nebraska’s only loss in its last eight games was at Michigan, and with a win at Michigan State included in that streak the Cornhuskers are making a major push at an NCAA Tournament bid. Nebraska recently moved into the Kenpom and RPI top 50, which helps Michigan’s tournament resume, so since the Huskers aren’t really going to give Michigan a scare for the Big Ten title — barring a monumental Michigan meltdown — let’s root for Nebraska to continue its run.

Root for: Nebraska

Thursday, Feb. 27

Ohio State at Penn State, 7 p.m., ESPN2

Like Nebraska, Ohio State is on a bit of a streak with the only blemish in its last seven games being a loss to Michigan. The loss before that: against Penn State. The Buckeyes will likely correct that on Thursday in State College, and if they do, they’ll remain two-and-a-half games behind Michigan (assuming the Wolverines beat Purdue on Wednesday) with two games left. Ohio State isn’t likely to catch Michigan, but like mentioned above with Iowa, Michigan might need the Buckeyes to beat Michigan State next week, so let’s just go ahead and root for OSU to be eliminated now.

Root for: Penn State

Iowa at Indiana, 9 p.m., ESPN

If Iowa gets past Minnesota on Tuesday night, they’ll still be in contention for a share of the title, so we should continue to root for a loss. This will be the likely loss remaining on the schedule aside from next week’s visit to East Lansing, and we might need the Hawkeyes to win that one.

Root for: Indiana

Saturday, March 1

Michigan State vs Illinois, 4 p.m., ESPN

Michigan State is obviously Michigan’s main challenger for the Big Ten title. As long as the Wolverines take care of Purdue on Wednesday, Michigan will hold a one-game lead over the Spartans with three to play. Any Michigan State loss is welcomed at this point in case Michigan suffers a misstep. This is the least likely loss among State’s remaining games, but we can still root for Illinois to pull off the stunner.

Root for: Illinois

Nebraska vs Northwestern, 5 p.m., ESPNU

As mentioned above, Nebraska winning helps Michigan’s tournament resume at this point as the Wolverines are currently have nine wins against teams in the RPI top 50, the second most in the nation behind Kansas. If Nebraska falls out of the top 50, that number drops to seven. It’s not going to make a huge difference come selection Sunday, but it could keep Michigan squarely in the three-seed range.

Root for: Nebraska

Michigan vs Minnesota, 6 p.m., Big Ten Network

Assuming Michigan beats Purdue on Sunday, a win over Minnesota here would assure the Wolverines of at least a 13-5 record, moving them one win away from clinching at least a share of the Big Ten title. It would also eliminate Ohio State and Nebraska from contention regardless of whether or not they keep winning.

Iowa vs Purdue, 8:15 p.m., Big Ten Network

If Iowa can get through the Minnesota and Indiana road tests on Tuesday and Thursday, the third game in five days will be a reprieve back in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. At this point, unless Michigan loses to Purdue or Minnesota, Iowa will have to win to have any hope of staying alive for a share of the title. But that would mean Michigan would have to lose both of its games next week.

Root for: Purdue

Sunday, March 2 

Wisconsin at Penn State, 12 p.m., Big Ten Network

Assuming Wisconsin beat Indiana at home on Tuesday, they’ll still be mathematically alive for a share of the title. Penn State has lost four of five (five of six if they lose to Ohio State on Thursday), so beating Wisconsin is unlikely, but that’s what we want to happen anyway.

Root for: Penn State

Ohio State at Indiana, 4 p.m., CBS

Ohio State’s second to last game of the regular season won’t matter if Michigan wins on Wednesday and Saturday, but if the Wolverines stumble Ohio State will still be alive for a share. Winning at Assembly Hall is never an easy proposition, so pull for the Hoosiers.

Root for: Indiana

Big Ten power rankings: Week 7

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

1. Wisconsin (21-5, 8-5)  Up 2
Last week: Feb. 13 W vs Minnesota 78-70, Feb. 16 W at #15 Michigan 75-62
This week: Saturday at #15 Iowa 12pm ESPN2

After a difficult late January stretch in which it went 1-5, Wisconsin has rallied to win four straight conference games, including victories over each of the co-leaders, Michigan and Michigan State. A trip to Iowa on Saturday is a must win. 

2. Iowa (19-6, 8-4) • Up 2
Last week: Feb. 15 W at Penn State 82-70
This week: Tuesday at Indiana (postponed), Saturday vs #16 Wisconsin 12pm

Iowa would be sitting atop the conference if it hadn’t dropped two home games late in the second half to Michigan State and Ohio State. However, losses by the two top teams on Sunday brings the surprising Hawkeyes within one game of first place in the loss column. Saturday’s matchup with Wisconsin will be big for both teams’ hopes of staying within reach. 

3. Michigan (18-7, 10-3) • Down 2
Last week: Feb. 11 W at #22 Ohio State 70-60, Feb. 16 L vs #21 Wisconsin 62-75
This week: Sunday vs #13 Michigan State 1pm CBS

Michigan remains atop the Big Ten, but it has scuffled of late. After a magical 8-0 conference start, the Wolverines have dropped three of their last five games and the rest of the conference has chipped away at the gap separating the two Michigan schools.

4. Nebraska (14-10, 6-6) • Up 1
Last week: Feb. 12 W vs Illinois 67-58, Feb. 16 W at #9 Michigan State 60-51
This week: Thursday vs Penn State 7pm ESPNU, Sunday vs Purdue 4:15pm

Nebraska coach Tim Miles has done an incredible job with a team that looked years away from being competitive in the Big Ten. Now his team has won five of six games and moved onto the fringes of the bubble conversation. Sunday’s win at Michigan State was a huge hurdle cleared for a program that has struggled to win on the road the past few years.

5. Michigan State (21-5, 10-3) • Down 3
Last week: Feb. 13 W vs Penn State 85-70, Feb. 16 L vs Nebraska 51-60
This week: Thursday at Purdue 7pm ESPN, Sunday at #20 Michigan 1pm CBS

The Spartans dropped another shocker on Sunday when Nebraska picked up just its second road win of the season in East Lansing. Michigan State is now 3-4 in its past seven games, including a non-conference loss to Georgetown.

6. Ohio State (20-6, 7-6) • Even
Last week: Feb. 11 L vs #15 Michigan 60-70, Feb.15 W at Illinois 48-39
This week: Wednesday vs Northwestern 7pm BTN, Saturday vs Minnesota 7pm

Ohio State’s three-game winning streak came to an abrupt halt in Columbus when the rival Wolverines won there for the first time since 2003. The Buckeyes followed the loss with an ugly 48-39 win at Illinois.

7. Minnesota (17-9, 6-7) • Up 2
Last week: Feb. 13 L at #21 Wisconsin 70-78, Feb. 16 W at Northwestern 54-48
This week: Wednesday vs Illinois 9pm BTN, Saturday at #24 Ohio State 6pm

The Gophers are holding on for dear life, winning just two of their last six games, both by a mere six points. Minnesota has a tough remaining schedule with games in Ann Arbor and Columbus looming and home tilt against the hot Hawkeyes.

8. Purdue (15-10, 5-7) • Up 3
Last week: Feb. 15 W vs Indiana 82-64
This week: Wednesday vs #13 Michigan State 7pm ESPN, Sunday at Nebraska 4:15pm

While Purdue doesn’t figure to be much of a factor in the Big Ten down the stretch, it got a big moral victory on Saturday when it waxed rival Indiana by 18 in West Lafayette.

9. Northwestern (12-14, 5-8) • Down 2
Last week: Feb. 13 L at #9 Michigan State 70-85, Feb. 16 L vs Minnesota 48-54
This week: Wednesday at #24 Ohio State 7pm BTN, Saturday vs Indiana 8:15pm

A few weeks ago, Northwestern was shocking the conference by winning four of five and vaulting into fourth place. Now, the Wildcats have lost three straight games, including two winnable matchups at home, and dropped out of the picture.

10. Penn State (13-13, 4-9) • Down 2
Last week: Feb. 12 W at Indiana 66-65, Feb. 15 L vs #16 Iowa 70-82
This week: Thursday at Nebraska 7pm ESPNU

The Nittany Lions picked up a great win at Indiana last week, but couldn’t hold on to beat Iowa at home on Saturday. Unfortunately for this team, the rest of the games on the schedule look like tall orders.

11. Illinois (14-12, 3-10) • Up 1
Last week: Feb. 12 L at Nebraska 58-67, Feb. 15 L vs #22 Ohio State 39-48
This week: Wednesday at Minnesota 9pm BTN

Illinois has looked much more competitive since its win over Penn State on Feb. 9, losing to both Nebraska and Ohio State by just single-digits. But at the end of the day, Illinois has lost 10 of 11 games and sits in the cellar of the Big Ten.

12. Indiana (14-11, 4-8) • Down 2
Last week: Feb. 12 L vs Penn State 65-66, Feb. 15 L at Purdue 64-82
This week: Tuesday vs #15 Iowa (postponed), Saturday at Northwestern 8:15pm 

About the only thing that could stop Indiana from losing happened on Tuesday — the arena started caving in. A large beam fell inside Assembly Hall, causing the game with Iowa to be postponed, signaling that the collapse of the 2014 Hoosiers has officially started physically affecting their stadium. Even Illinois’ losing streak can’t boast that.

Big Ten power rankings: Week 6 – Friday edition

Friday, February 14th, 2014

1. Michigan (18-6, 10-2)  Even
Last week: Feb. 5 W vs Nebraska 79-50, Feb. 8 L at Iowa 67-85
This week: Tuesday W at #22 Ohio State 70-60, Sunday vs #21 Wisconsin 1pm CBS

Michigan needed to stop the bleeding after a drubbing in Iowa resulted in its second loss in three games. The team that won 10 games in a row showed up in the second half in Columbus, leading Michigan to its first win there since 2003 and putting the Wolverines back atop the Big Ten standings.

2. Michigan State (21-4, 10-2) • Even
Last week: Feb. 6 W vs Penn State 82-67, Feb. 9 L at Wisconsin 58-60
This week: Thursday W vs Northwestern 85-70, Sunday vs Nebraska 3pm

The Spartans are mired in a tough stretch in which they had lost three of their  last five games. Last night’s win over Northwestern and upcoming games against Nebraska and Purdue should provide an opportunity to get back on track before the big showdown in Ann Arbor on February 23.

3. Wisconsin (20-5, 7-5) • Up 7
Last week: Feb. 4 W at Illinois 75-63, Feb. 9 W vs #9 Michigan State 60-58
This week: Thursday W vs Minnesota 78-70, Sunday at #15 Michigan 1pm CBS

Although a win over Illinois ended a streak of five losses in six games for the Badgers, beating first-place Michigan State hinted at a possible return of the Wisconsin that started the season ranked in the top 10.

4. Iowa (18-6, 7-4) • Even
Last week: Feb. 4 L vs Ohio State 69-76, Feb. 8 W vs #10 Michigan 85-67
This week: Saturday at Penn State 1pm ESPNU

In its last six games, Iowa has rotated between wins and losses, making it difficult to gain any ground in the Big Ten standings. Its inconsistency was nowhere to be found on Saturday, though, as it dominated Michigan on national television.

5. Nebraska (13-10, 5-6) • Even
Last week: Feb. 5 L at #10 Michigan 50-79, Feb. 8 W at Northwestern 53-49
This week: Wednesday W vs Illinois 67-58, Sunday at #9 Michigan State 3pm BTN

Tim Miles’s team finally picked up a road win last Saturday with a win over the streaking Wildcats in Evanston. Nebraska continues to protect its home court, moving to 11-1 with its second straight win on Wednesday night.

6. Ohio State (19-6, 6-6) • Up 2
Last week: Feb. 4 W at #17 Iowa 76-69, Feb. 8 W vs Purdue 67-49
This week: Tuesday L to #15 Michigan 60-70, Saturday at Illinois 8pm BTN

Just when Aaron Craft and his crew began to look like the preseason top 10 team they were four months ago, Michigan went into Columbus and won for the first time since 2003. Ohio State had won three games before the loss to Michigan, and the schedule offers an opportunity to build another winning streak into March.

7. Northwestern (12-13, 5-7) • Down 4
Last week: Feb. 8 L vs Nebraska 49-53
This week: Thursday L at #9 Michigan State 70-85, Sunday vs Minnesota 6pm BTN

Northwestern’s magical stretch that brought it as high as fourth in the Big Ten came to an abrupt halt Saturday when it became the first team to lose to Nebraska at home this season. An extremely busy week lies ahead for Chris Collins’s crew, as it will host Minnesota in between trips to East Lansing and Columbus.

8. Penn State (13-12, 4-8) • Down 2
Last week: Feb. 6 L at #9 Michigan State 82-67, Feb. 9 L vs Illinois 55-60
This week: Wednesday W at Indiana 66-65, Saturday vs #16 Iowa 1pm ESPNU

The Big Ten’s last place team shook up the conference with a three-game winning streak last week, but followed up by losing twice in four days. Penn State got back on track Wednesday night by pulling off a shocker on the road against Indiana.

9. Minnesota (16-9, 5-7) • Even
Last week: Feb. 5 L at Purdue 74-77 3OT, Feb. 8 W vs Indiana 66-60
This week: Thursday L at #21 Wisconsin 70-78, Sunday at Northwestern 6pm BTN

An outstanding non-conference performance by Minnesota evaporated during Big Ten play, in which it has lost five of its last eight. Before beating Indiana last Saturday, Richard Pitino’s team dropped three straight against teams with losing conference records.

10. Indiana (14-10, 4-7) • Down 3
Last week: Feb. 8 L at Minnesota 60-66
This week: Wednesday L to Penn State 65-66, Saturday at Purdue 4pm ESPN

Indiana got the enormous win it needed to turn its season around when it handed the first-place Wolverines their first conference loss. Unfortunately for this team, the next two games featured losses to Minnesota and Penn State, dropping the Hoosiers right back to where they were.

11. Purdue (14-10, 4-7) • Even
Last week: Feb. 5 W vs Minnesota 77-75 3OT, Feb. 8 L at Ohio State 49-67
This week: Saturday vs Indiana 4pm ESPN

Fans in West Lafayette enjoyed a thrilling triple-overtime win over Minnesota last week, but Purdue’s struggles leave little reason for hope as the Big Ten season nears a close.

12. Illinois (14-11, 3-9) • Even
Last week: Feb. 4 L vs Wisconsin 63-75, Feb. 9 W at Penn State 60-55
This week: Wednesday L at Nebraska 58-67, Saturday vs #22 Ohio State 8pm BTN

In its last 10 games, Illinois does boast a win over 11th-place Penn State, but the other nine games are all loses. Chances of making the NCAA Tournament in 2014 have evaporated for this young team.

Big Ten power rankings: Week 5

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

1. Michigan (16-5, 8-1)  Even
Last week: Jan. 30 W vs Purdue 75-66, Feb. 2 L vs Indiana 52-63
This week: Wednesday vs Nebraska 6:30pm BTN, Saturday at Iowa 2pm

Even though Michigan lost a tough road game in Bloomington on Sunday, it still holds the tiebreaker with in-state rival Michigan State and remains atop the conference standings. The 10-game winning streak is over, but the Wolverines maintained their top-10 ranking in the AP Poll.

2. Michigan State (19-3, 8-1) • Up 1
Last week: Jan. 28 W vs #15 Iowa 71-69, Feb. 2 L vs Georgetown 60-64
This week: Thursday vs Penn State 9pm ESPN2, Sunday at Wisconsin 1pm

Tom Izzo’s team lost its second game in three tries Saturday, falling 64-60 at the hands of Georgetown (13-9, 4-6 Big East). The Spartans are still comfortably towards the top of the Big Ten, but they look much more vulnerable without their two post presences.

3. Northwestern (12-11, 5-5) • Up 4
Last week: Jan. 29 W at #14 Wisconsin 65-56, Feb. 1 W at Minnesota 55-54
This week: Saturday vs Nebraska 1pm ESPNU

Chris Collins completely changed the culture of Northwestern basketball in 2014 and the Wildcats have won four of five games. They would receive a first-round bye in the Big Ten Tournament if it started today. Last week, Northwestern picked up two valuable road victories with back-to-back wins against Wisconsin and Minnesota.

4. Iowa (17-5, 6-3) • Down 2
Last week: Jan. 28 L vs #7 Michigan State 69-71, Feb. 1 W at Illinois 81-74
This week: Tuesday vs Ohio State 7pm ESPN, Saturday at #10 Michigan 2pm

Iowa avoided disaster on Saturday, coming back to beat Illinois in the final minutes and stay firmly in third place in the Big Ten. After a scorching start to the season, the Hawkeyes are cooling off a little bit with two losses and a scare against the Fighting Illini among their last four games.

5. Nebraska (11-9, 3-5) • Up 3
Last week: Jan. 30 W vs Indiana 60-55
This week: Wednesday at #10 Michigan 6:30pm BTN, Saturday at Northwestern 1pm

Despite an 0-4 conference start, Tim Miles’ team is one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten, having won three of its last four. The Cornhuskers boast a near-perfect record in the new Pinnacle Bank Arena, the only blemish being a one-point thrilling loss to Michigan. Nebraska is a completely different team when it travels, as it has yet to win on the road this season.

6. Penn State (12-10, 3-6) • Up 6
Last week: Jan. 29 W at #24 Ohio State 71-70, Feb. 2 W vs Purdue 79-68
This week: Thursday at #9 Michigan State 9pm ESPN2, Sunday vs Illinois 4:15pm

Penn State began the Big Ten season by losing its first six games by an average of over nine points. But since breaking the ice on January 23, the Nittany Lions haven’t lost. Incredibly, Penn State currently owns the longest winning streak in the conference and sits just a game and a half out of fourth place.

7. Indiana (14-8, 4-5) • Down 1
Last week: Jan. 30 L at Nebraska 55-60, Feb. 2 W vs #10 Michigan 63-52
This week: Saturday at Minnesota 8:15pm BTN

Indiana handed first-place Michigan its first conference loss Sunday in what was a must-win for Tom Crean’s team. Despite the big win, Indiana is probably still sitting on the wrong side of the bubble with a losing conference record and no strong wins outside the Big Ten.

8. Ohio State (17-5, 4-5) • Up 1
Last week: Jan. 29 L vs Penn State 70-71, Feb. 1 W at #14 Wisconsin 59-58
This week: Tuesday at #17 Iowa 7pm ESPN, Saturday vs Purdue 6pm

Following an embarrassing home loss to Penn State last week, Ohio State took advantage of a reeling Wisconsin squad and survived with a one-point road victory in Madison. The Buckeyes played poorly for six straight games before the win, but Big Ten followers wouldn’t be surprised to see this team make a late run.

9. Minnesota (15-7, 4-5) • Down 4
Last week: Feb. 1 L vs Northwestern 54-55
This week: Wednesday at Purdue 8:30pm BTN, Saturday vs Indiana 8:15pm

Minnesota dominated at the Barn nearly all season long before slipping up against a pesky Northwestern team Saturday. Though Minnesota could have been the team to benefit from collapses in Columbus and Madison, a rough stretch of its own has it sitting under .500, at 4-5.

10. Wisconsin (13-7, 3-4) • Down 6
Last week: Jan. 29 L vs Northwestern 56-65, Feb. 1 L vs #24 Ohio State 58-59
This week: Tuesday at Illinois 9pm BTN, Sunday vs #9 Michigan State 1pm

Wisconsin’s season is quickly spiraling out of control as the former third-ranked Badgers fell out of the rankings on Monday and are 1-5 since January 14. A glance at the upcoming schedule shows that Wisconsin could end up with a losing record in this unpredictable conference.

11. Purdue (13-9, 3-6) • Down 1
Last week: Jan. 30 L at #10 Michigan 66-75, Feb. 2 L at Penn State 68-79
This week: Wednesday vs Minnesota 8:30pm BTN, Saturday at Ohio State 6pm

A grueling four-game stretch completely decimated Purdue over the last two weeks as they fell from 3-2 to 3-6 in the conference. The Boilermakers haven’t scored 70 points since January 12 against Nebraska.

12. Illinois (13-9, 2-7) • Down 1
Last week: Feb. 1 L vs #15 Iowa 74-81
This week: Tuesday vs Wisconsin 9pm BTN, Sunday at Penn State 4:15pm

A valiant upset big against Iowa at home fell just short for Illinois on Saturday, as the Big Ten’s longest losing streak ballooned to seven. A recent surge from Penn State makes the Illini streak look like it could reach 12, which would certainly make John Groce’s seat considerably hotter in just his second season with Illinois.