With Big Ten play underway, it’s time to reveal our first conference power rankings. We wanted to wait until the non-conference slate was finished before starting our power rankings so we could accurately judge each team’s performance through a full non-conference schedule and get a feel for how the conference will shape up. So following the first week of conference action, here are our power rankings.
|1. Michigan State (14-1, 3-0)|
|Last week: Dec. 31 W at Penn State 79-63, Jan. 4 W at Indiana 73-56|
|This week: Tuesday W vs #3 Ohio State 72-68 OT, Saturday vs Minnesota 2:15pm|
Michigan State reestablished itself as the team to beat early in conference play by essentially beating Ohio State twice in one game. After building a 17-point lead and blowing it, the Spartans were able to win it in overtime.
|2. Wisconsin (15-0, 2-0)|
|Last week: Jan. 2 W at Northwestern 76-49, Jan. 5 W vs #22 Iowa 75-71|
|This week: Wednesday vs #23 Illinois 9pm on BTN|
After rolling through the non-conference schedule undefeated, Wisconsin has begun Big Ten play by stomping Northwestern and proving it can play offensive basketball in a comeback win over Iowa.
|3. Ohio State (15-1, 2-1)|
|Last week: Dec. 31 W at Purdue 78-69, Jan. 4 W vs Nebraska 84-53|
|This week: Jan. 7 L at Michigan State 68-72 OT, Sunday vs #20 Iowa|
Ohio State is an extremely athletic team and the hustle of Aaron Craft keeps them in every game (even when down 17 in East Lansing). The overtime loss did little to decrease faith in this team, and Thad Matta’s crew will be right in the thick of the race for a number one seed in March.
|4. Michigan (10-4, 2-0)|
|Last week: Jan. 2 W at Minnesota 63-60, Jan. 5 W vs Northwestern 74-51|
|This week: Thursday at Nebraska 9pm ESPN2|
The Wolverines were disappointing before conference play, losing four games, but have rebounded nicely the last two weeks. A win on the road against Minnesota without Mitch McGary or Glen Robinson in the second half was a good start to the Big Ten season.
|5. Iowa (12-3, 1-1)|
|Last week: Dec. 31 W vs Nebraska 67-57, Jan. 5 L at #4 Wisconsin 71-74|
|This week: Thursday vs Northwestern 9pm ESPNU, Sunday at #3 Ohio State 1:30pm|
Iowa nearly pulled off one of the most difficult things to do in Big Ten basketball by taking Wisconsin to the wire in Madison. Iowa held a double-digit lead in the second half against the Badgers only to lose its second game by less than five points to an undefeated team (Iowa State). The Hawkeyes are third in the country in rebounding and 12th in both points and assists per game.
|6. Illinois (13-2, 2-0)|
|Last week: Dec. 31 W vs Indiana 83-80 OT, Jan. 4 W vs Penn State 75-55|
|This week: Wednesday at #4 Wisconsin 9pm BTN, Sunday at Northwestern 7:30pm|
This team seemingly always begins the season on a hot streak and jumps into the top 25 only to struggle through the conference schedule. So far, Illinois has beaten Penn State and survived Indiana at home in Big Ten play, but a trip to Madison on Wednesday will show us what the team is really made of.
|7. Minnesota (12-3, 1-1)|
|Last week: Jan. 2 L vs Michigan 60-63, Jan. 5 W vs Purdue 82-79|
|This week: Wednesday at Penn State 7pm BTN, Saturday at #5 Michigan State 2:15pm|
Richard Pitino suffered a close loss at the hands of Michigan in his first Big Ten game, but Minnesota bounced back to beat Purdue and move to 12-3 in this young season. For the first time in recent memory Minnesota is playing without Trevor Mbakwe, but Andre and Austin Hollins are picking up the slack as numbers one and two on the team in points.
|8. Indiana (10-5, 0-2)|
|Last week: Dec. 31 L at Illinois 80-83 OT, Jan. 4 L vs #5 Michigan State 56-73|
|This week: Saturday at Penn State 12pm BTN|
Though the Hoosiers already have five losses on the season, four of them are to currently ranked teams and Tom Crean’s team has been competitive in three of them. A heartbreaking overtime loss to Illinois kicked off the conference season for Indiana and carried over into a blowout loss to Michigan State. The talent is there, but this young team has to learn how to win Big Ten games.
|9. Purdue (10-5, 0-2)|
|Last week: Dec. 31 L vs #3 Ohio State 69-78, Jan. 5 L at Minnesota 79-82|
|This week: Sunday vs Nebraska 12pm BTN|
Purdue has had a difficult start to the Big Ten season, playing the undefeated Buckeyes and on the road against Minnesota. Both losses were competitive, but the Boilermakers lack a win better than 10-5 West Virginia.
|10. Penn State (9-6, 0-2)|
|Last week: Dec. 31 L vs #5 Michigan State 63-79, Jan. 4 L at Illinois 55-75|
|This week: Wednesday vs Minnesota 7pm BTN, Saturday vs Indiana 12pm BTN|
The good news for Penn State is Tim Frazier is back; the bad news is it hasn’t really turned into victories. The Nittany Lions have lost their first two conference games by a combined 36 points despite leading Michigan State at halftime.
|11. Nebraska (8-6, 0-2)|
|Last week: Dec. 31 L at #22 Iowa 57-67, Jan. 4 L at #3 Ohio State 53-84|
|This week: Thursday vs Michigan 9pm ESPN2, Sunday at Purdue 12pm|
Losses on the road to Iowa and Ohio State seemed inevitable for Nebraska heading into the Big Ten season, but when the Buckeyes blew this team out by 31, it was clear that the Cornhuskers are nowhere near the top of the Big Ten.
|12. Northwestern (7-8, 0-2)|
|Last week: Jan. 2 L vs #4 Wisconsin 49-76, Jan. 5 L at Michigan 51-74|
|This week: Thursday at #20 Iowa 9pm ESPNU, Sunday vs #23 Illinois 7:30pm|
Chris Collins’ first year in the Big Ten is off to a difficult start. Northwestern is the only team in the conference with a losing record and has lost both Big Ten games by more than 20 points.