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Posts Tagged ‘Wisconsin’

Near upset: #6 Wisconsin 69 – Michigan 64 OT

Sunday, January 25th, 2015


Michigan vs Wisconsin(Teresa Mathew, UMHoops)

ESPN’s College Gameday was in Ann Arbor for Michigan’s matchup with the Wisconsin Badgers on Saturday night, but that doesn’t mean anyone was really expecting a good game between the two teams at opposite ends of the experience spectrum.

The Badgers, led by the eccentric but outstanding Bo Ryan, came in as the 6th-ranked team nationally, boasting a lineup replete with size, experience, talent, and cohesiveness. Frank Kaminsky, a preseason All-American 7-footer, is arguably one of the three best players in the country, but he’s joined by fellow senior Josh Gasser, junior (and surefire first-rounder) Sam Dekker, and experienced sophomores Nigel Hayes — a skilled big man — and Bronson Koenig. Coming off the bench, Ryan prefers another senior and another pair of sophomores being weaned into a handful of minutes per game. On Saturday night, not a single visiting freshman checked into the game.

Wisconsin returned just about everyone coming off a trip to the Final Four last season, and they’ve looked the part so far this year, with their only losses coming to Duke and a puzzling fall at Rutgers, where Kaminsky sat out and point guard Traevon Jackson injured himself in the second half.

Compare that to this season’s Michigan outfit, which is now down to nine scholarship players and starts two freshmen, two sophomores, and a junior – along with a bench full of more freshmen and walk-ons – and you see why the Badgers entered the evening as double-digit favorites. And though the Wolverines were just one round away from dancing in Dallas with the Badgers, injuries and NBA attrition have forced coach John Beilein into playing multiple lineups with almost no experience; on Saturday night, five freshmen and two sophomore walk-ons logged minutes for the home Maize and Blue.

For much of the night, the inklings of the Badgers’ superiority proved accurate, with Wisconsin jumping out to an early seven-point lead, enduring Michigan’s first-half run, then bringing it back to seven at the break before opening the lead up to 11 four minutes into the second half.

Dekker used his 6’9″ frame and athleticism to shoot over and drive past the defense on his way to eight first-half points, Koenig knocked down three of four shots for seven, and bigs Hayes and Kaminsky pitched in six a piece before the break. Michigan also displayed some nice balanced scoring, with six different players getting on the board in the first half, but no one scored more than Max Bielfeldt’s six. The Wolverines stuck in the game by taking advantage of an uncharacteristic six first-half giveaways from the Badgers – prompting Bo Ryan to quip that he was pondering opening a bakery because of so many turnovers in one of the more bizarre jokes I’ve ever heard in a press conference – and an even more surprising five offensive rebounds, including three for Bielfeldt that were all put back up and made.

The sloppy play for the Badgers wouldn’t continue forever, though, as the visitors turned it over just once in the second half, allowing them to use their full possessions and dominate with their size. A couple times, Spike Albrecht was comically caught trying to body up Kaminsky, who had his way in the post for much of the game to the tune of 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting without a single triple attempt.

Four Factors
Michigan Wisconsin
49.1 eFG% 53.9
36.7 OReb% 29.0
15.4 TO% 13.7
22.2 FTR 37.3

Despite the odds, Michigan still fought back as they have so many times this season. Missing leader Caris LeVert for just the second game, the Wolverines seemed to move the ball a little better around the perimeter with less reliance on the three. After falling down early in the game, Bielfeldt stepped up down low for three offensive boards and buckets to help the home squad take a 17-16 lead before fellow big man Mark Donnal checked in to score four more quick points, including one bucket on a pretty 15-foot turnaround fadeaway baseline jumper to keep Michigan up two with 3:13 remaining.

The Maize and Blue wouldn’t score the rest of the half, however, while Wisconsin quickly reeled off nine points courtesy of a Hayes and-one and buzzer-beating three and a ferocious dunk from Dekker, who had to leave the court after converting the three-point play due to a sizable amount of blood coming from his hand.

Early in the second half, it looked like Wisconsin would finally escape the ties of Michigan’s dizzying array of defenses and run away with it, but four straight buckets from four different Wolverines and a pair of Derrick Walton free throws tied things up at 38 midway through the second half. A Bronson Koenig three finally halted Michigan’s 11-0 run, but Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman stepped right up and nailed a three of his own to knot it up again.

With a veteran savvy that is becoming increasingly rare in college basketball, however, the Badgers remained unfazed and immediately scored seven in a row to go up 48-41 with just 7:33 remaining. It looked like the book would finally be closed on the evening, but Michigan fought back valiantly with five straight from Zak Irvin and a huge pair of makes from Rahk and Walton to cut things to two with 22 seconds left right after Josh Gasser missed the front end of his 1-and-1 try.

Michigan, with no choice but to foul, sent Koenig to the line for a 1-and-1 opportunity, and happily saw the second miss. Walton quickly got fouled, drained a pair to cut the lead to one, then Aubrey Dawkins put Koenig back to the line for two.

This time, the sophomore made good on both to give Wisconsin a three-point lead with just 10 seconds remaining.

The Wolverines would have one chance to send it to overtime, and with Bo Ryan electing not to intentionally foul, Dawkins caught a pass from Walton on the left wing, went up to shoot – drawing two defenders – and deftly laid it back off to an open Walton on the left.

The shot hung in the air for a few memorable moments before finding nothing but net, causing Crisler to erupt in a deafening roar as Michigan took it to OT.

Unfortunately for the terrific crowd and the scrappy Wolverines, the dream comeback died shortly after. Frank Kaminsky started off the extra period with an incredible and-one finish over Ricky Doyle, then Josh Gasser hit a three after a Michigan turnover to put Wisconsin up six before Beilein’s team knew what hit them.

And although the Wolverines had mustered up comeback after comeback all night long, this lead proved insurmountable. Kaminsky would finish the overtime period with eight of his game-high 22 while Gasser pitched in the three and Dekker made one free throw, giving Wisconsin the 69-64 win.

After the epic battle, Beilein said there would be no moral victories taken despite the encouraging performance, but that Michigan will certainly learn from the loss and continue to key in on what they did well.

It’s hard to not see this game as a positive for Michigan performance-wise, though, even if they let another potential season-changing win fall through their grasp.

Nine different Wolverines scored, led by Derrick Walton’s 17, while only Wisconsin’s starting five got on the scoreboard. Particularly encouraging for Michigan also was the collective output of bigs Doyle, Donnal, and Bielfeldt, who combined for 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting and 13 rebounds, including six offensive, while doing about as well as you could hope against the likes of Kaminsky and Hayes down low. That pair scored 32 points, but it took them 23 shots to get there.

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (Rahk) was another bright spot, as the freshman scored nine points on four shots and showed positive signs for the third straight game, according to Beilein. Rahk continues to display a better grasp of the offense and greatly increased confidence, but perhaps most impressive has been the drastic improvement in his outside shot. The knock on the Philadelphia native coming in was his inability to provide a deep threat, and he certainly struggled shooting earlier this year, but his shot looks terrific right now, and he has not been afraid to take the big ones.

The Wolverines will now face a Nebraska team this Tuesday coming off a home win over Michigan State before a gauntlet of games awaits in February.

At this point, Michigan has lots of catching up to do in order to have even an outside shot at making the Big Dance, but if they can play like this on a nightly basis, there should be a few reasonable opportunities for big wins in the near future.

The first step has been taken. Now the effort must be sustained.

Quick Hitters:

• In his press conference, Beilein confirmed that Michigan was fouling on purpose at the end of the first half, but that, looking back on it, they executed very poorly. The Wolverines had two fouls to give, but the confusion started when Walton, who already had one foul on the night, picked up a second foul some 30 feet from the hoop with 19 seconds on the clock. Michigan fouled again with nine seconds remaining, but that still gave Wisconsin plenty of time to score, which they capitalized on with a corner three from Nigel Hayes.

The controversial strategy from Beilein is designed to take advantage of “free” fouls at the end of the half in order to give the other team very little time to get set up and finish with a bucket, but in order to work, Michigan would like to leave the team with four seconds or fewer to operate. By fouling with 19 seconds left, the strategy was destined to fail, as Michigan couldn’t possibly utilize just one more foul to give effectively with so much time left.

Three Stars:

***Derrick Walton Jr.***
17 points (4-of-12 FG, 2-of-5 3pt, 7-of-8 FT), five rebounds (two offensive), two assists, one steal, one turnover in 39 minutes

**Max Bielfeldt**
9 points (4-of-6 FG, 1-of-3 3pt, 1-of-2 FT), five rebounds (three offensive) in 13 minutes

*Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman*
9 points (3-of-4 FG, 1-of-1 3pt, 2-of-2 FT), two rebounds in 23 minutes

Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
21 Zak Irvin* 5-15 2-6 0-0 1 1 2 0 12 2 1 0 1 40
24 Aubrey Dawkins* 1-3 1-3 0-0 0 3 3 4 3 2 0 1 0 24
32 Ricky Doyle* 1-3 0-0 2-2 1 4 5 3 4 0 0 0 0 23
02 Spike Albrecht* 1-4 0-2 0-0 0 1 1 0 2 2 1 0 0 25
10 Derrick Walton Jr* 4-12 2-5 7-8 2 3 5 4 17 2 5 0 1 40
03 Kameron Chatman 1-2 0-0 0-0 1 2 3 2 2 0 0 0 0 22
04 Andrew Dakich 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 2
12 M-A. Abdur-Rahkman 3-4 1-1 2-2 0 2 2 4 9 0 0 0 0 23
20 Sean Lonergan 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
34 Mark Donnal 3-5 0-0 0-0 2 1 3 0 6 0 0 0 0 11
44 Max Bielfeldt 4-6 1-3 0-0 3 2 5 3 9 0 0 0 0 14
Totals 23-54 7-20 11-12 11 22 33 20 64 8 9 1 2 225
Wisconsin 24-51 7-21 14-19 9 21 30 12 69 12 8 1 4 225
Full Stats

Michigan hoops preview: #6 Wisconsin

Saturday, January 24th, 2015


UM-Wisconsin
Michigan (12-7, 5-2) vs #6 Wisconsin (17-2, 5-1)
Saturday, Jan. 24 | Ann Arbor, Mich. | 7:00 p.m. EST | ESPN
Offense
64.9 Points/gm 73.8
(425-1,033) 41.1 Field Goal % 48.9 (494-1,011)
(156-441) 35.4 3-pt FG % 35.8 (132-369)
(227-309) 73.5 Free Throw % 74.2 (282-380)
11.9 FT Made/gm 14.8
31.8 Reb/gm 34.4
12.4 Assists/gm 12.9
9.9 Turnovers/gm 7.8
Defense
61.6 Points/gm 54.6
(435-999) 43.5 Field Goal % 40.9 (399-976)
(125-362) 34.5 3-pt FG % 34.9 (90-258)
34.1 Opp. Reb/gm 27.6
6.1 Steals/gm 5.1
1.9 Blocks/gm 3.9
Individual Leaders
Caris LeVert (14.9)*, Zak Irvin (13.7) Points/gm Frank Kaminsky (16.9), Sam Dekker (12.6)
Caris LeVert (4.9)*, Derrick Walton Jr (4.7) Reb/gm Frank Kaminsky (8.2), Nigel Hayes (6.9)
*Out for season

___________________________________________________________________________________

Although Michigan’s postseason is hanging on by the thinnest of threads, the Wolverines stand just a half game out of first place in the Big Ten one-third of the way into conference play. Tonight, when Michigan hosts sixth-ranked Wisconsin in front of a nationally televised ESPN audience, it gets a prime opportunity to seize the quality win its resume lacks. Let’s take a look at the Badgers.

The Starters
Minutes Points FG% 3FG% FT% Reb Ast TO Blk Stl
Frank Kaminsky (F) 30.4 16.9 53.4 40.4 75.6 8.2 2.4 1.4 1.8 1.1
Sam Dekker (F) 27.4 12.6 52.7 35.6 69.0 4.9 1.2 1.2 0.5 0.3
Nigel Hayes (F) 31.4 12.5 55.3 36.8 69.6 6.9 1.9 0.9 0.6 0.7
Josh Gasser (G) 29.4 7.2 45.2 40.3 85.4 2.7 1.5 0.5 0.1 0.8
Bronson Koenig (G) 22.1 5.6 43.5 37.0 87.5 1.4 2.1 0.5 0.2 0.3
The Others
Minutes Points FG% 3FG% FT% Reb Ast TO Blk Stl
Traevon Jackson (G)* 27.4 9.4 45.6 28.6 85.4 1.7 2.9 1.6 0.2 1.1
Duje Dukan (F) 18.6 6.5 43.5 35.4 66.7 3.2 0.8 0.9 0.1 0.4
Vitto Brown (F) 8.8 2.8 48.8 00.0 58.8 2.1 0.2 0.4 0.3 0.3
Zak Showalter (G) 7.3 2.7 40.7 14.3 85.7 1.3 0.3 0.1 0.2 0.4
Riley Dearring (G) 3.1 1.0 40.0 42.9 00.0 0.2 0.1 0.4 0.0 0.1
*Injured
The Schedule
Date Opponent Score
Nov. 14 Northern Kentucky W 62-31
Nov. 16 Chattanooga W 89-45
Nov. 19 Green Bay W 84-60
Nov. 22 Boise State W 78-54
Nov. 26 UAB* W 72-43
Nov. 27 Georgetown* W 68-65
Nov. 28 Oklahoma* W 69-56
Dec. 3 #4 Duke^ L 70-80
Dec. 6 at Marquette W 49-38
Dec. 10 at Milwaukee W 93-54
Dec. 13 Nicholls State W 83-43
Dec. 22 at California W 68-56
Dec. 28 Buffalo W 68-56
Dec. 31 Penn State W 89-72
Jan. 4 at Northwestern W 81-58
Jan. 7 Purdue W 62-55
Jan. 11 at Rutgers L 62-67
Jan. 15 Nebraska W 70-55
Jan. 20 #25 Iowa W 82-50
Jan. 24 at Michigan
Jan. 31 at #25 Iowa
Feb. 3 #23 Indiana
Feb. 7 Northwestern
Feb. 10 at Nebraska
Feb. 15 Illinois
Feb. 18 at Penn State
Feb. 21 Minnesota
Feb. 24 at #13 Maryland
Mar. 1 Michigan State
Mar. 5 at Minnesota
Mar. 8 at Ohio State
*Battle 4 Atlantis, ^ACC/Big Ten Challenge

Wisconsin began the season as the favorite to win the Big Ten and opened with seven straight wins, capturing the Battle 4 Atlantis crown before falling to Duke in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Another winning streak carried the Badgers into Big Ten play before Rutgers of all teams stopped the streak at eight just two weeks ago. But Wisconsin responded with a 15-point win over Nebraska and a 32-point thumping of 25th-ranked Iowa.

The Series

Michigan leads the all-time series 91-67 and 56-21 in Ann Arbor. Last season, the teams split their matchups, each winning on the road. Michigan beat Wisconsin 77-70 at the Kohl Center and Wisconsin returned the favor 75-62 in the Crisler Center. John Beilein is 2-12 all-time against Wisconsin.

Notes

• Senior guard Traevon Jackson broke his foot in a loss to Rutgers on Jan. 11 and will miss tonight’s game. He had started 84 consecutive games

• Wisconsin ranks fourth in the Big Ten in scoring (73.8 points per game) and first in scoring defense (54.6). The Badgers’ plus-19.2 scoring margin also leads the conference

• Wisconsin ranks second in the Big Ten in shooting percentage (48.9) and seventh in three-point shooting (35.8)

• Wisconsin ranks 12th in the Big Ten in three-point shooting defense (34.9 percent), ahead of only Northwestern and Purdue

• Senior Frank Kaminsky ranks fifth in the Big Ten in scoring (16.9 points per game), second in rebounding (8.2), fifth in blocked shots (1.8), and first in defensive rebounds per game (6.6)

• Sophomore Nigel Hayes ranks fifth in the Big Ten in rebounding (6.9 per game)

Big Ten hoops power rankings: Week 4

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015


Power Rankings_header
Conference newcomer Maryland has taken over the top spot in the rankings this week for the first time, supplanting Michigan State thanks to a 75-59 win over the Spartans. Iowa shot up four spots to the second spot, while Michigan, Illinois, Northwestern, and Penn State all held steady. This week, we get several top 25 matchups, beginning on Tuesday when 25th-ranked Iowa visits 6th-ranked Wisconsin and then on Thursday when 13th-ranked Maryland visits 23rd-ranked Indiana.

Previous: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3

1. Maryland (17-2, 5-1) – Up 2
Last Week: Beat Rutgers 73-65, Beat MSU 75-59 This Week: Thu at #23 Indiana, Sun vs Northwestern

Nobody saw this coming, but Maryland has taken Big Ten basketball by storm in 2015. The Terrapins just completed a season sweep of perennial power Michigan State and sit alone atop the conference standings.

2. Iowa (13-5, 4-1) – Up 4
Last Week: Beat Minnesota 77-75, Beat Ohio State 76-67 This Week: Tue at #6 Wisconsin, Sat at Purdue

Iowa delivered another punch in the gut to the Ohio State Buckeyes Saturday, riding a nine-point win to a season sweep of Thad Matta’s team. Iowa could really gain the early inside track with a win in Madison on Tuesday night.

3. Indiana (14-4, 4-1) – Up 1
Last Week: Beat Penn State 76-73, Beat Illinois 80-74 This Week: Thu vs #13 Maryland, Sun at Ohio State

Tom Crean’s Hoosiers are slowly putting together a solid resume after another 2-0 week moved them to within a half-game of the Big Ten lead. Nationally, Indiana climbed into the top 25 for the first time this season with No. 13 Maryland coming to town Thursday.

4. Wisconsin (16-2, 4-1) – Down 2
Last Week: Beat Nebraska 70-55 This Week: Tue vs #25 Iowa, Sat at Michigan

Wisconsin rebounded nicely from an unthinkable loss to Rutgers last Sunday by waxing Nebraska 70-55 at home. Now the Badgers face a meeting with Michigan in Ann Arbor sandwiched between two games against Iowa to end the month.

5. Michigan State (12-6, 3-2) – Down 4
Last Week: Lost to #14 Maryland 59-75 This Week: Wed vs Penn State, Sat at Nebraska

The Big Ten has little to hang its hat on after the top four teams, as the rest of the conference has struggled to show any signs of stability through the first third of the schedule. Michigan State is a perfect example of that, having lost five of their six games against quality opponents, with one good win in Iowa City.

6. Ohio State (14-5, 3-3) – Down 1
Last Week: Beat Michigan 71-52, Lost to Iowa 67-76 This Week: Thu at Northwestern, Sun vs #23 Indiana

Perhaps the only team with fewer quality wins than MSU is the Buckeyes, who’ve lost all five games against teams with a pulse. They’ll get another shot Sunday against a solid Indiana squad that beat OSU on Jan. 10.

7. Michigan (11-7, 4-2) – Even
Last Week: Lost to OSU 52-71, Beat Northwestern 56-54 This Week: Tue at Rutgers, Sat vs #6 Wisconsin

After being manhandled in Columbus on Jan. 13, Michigan returned home and eked out a last-second win over Northwestern Saturday. But the cost of the victory was steep as Caris LeVert, the team’s leader in scoring, rebounding, assisting, stealing, and blocking, went down for the season due to a foot injury suffered on the final defensive play.

8. Purdue (11-7, 3-2) – Up 3
Last Week: Beat Penn State 84-77 OT This Week: Wed at Illinois, Sat vs #25 Iowa

Purdue is staying afloat early in the conference season after pulling out a miracle overtime win in Happy Valley over the weekend. Now the road gets much tougher for the Boilermakers as they travel to Illinois before hosting nationally ranked Iowa and Indiana.

9. Nebraska (10-7, 2-3) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost to #7 Wisconsin 55-70 This Week: Tue vs Minnesota, Sat vs Michigan State

Nebraska’s modest two-game winning streak came to screeching halt in Madison as the Badgers manhandled Tim Miles’ team by 15 points. The Cornhuskers will need a scorching finish reminiscent of last year’s stretch run to return to the NCAA Tournament in 2015.

10. Illinois (12-7, 2-4) – Even
Last Week: Beat Northwestern 72-67, Lost to Indiana 74-80 This Week: Wed vs Purdue, Sat at Minnesota

A 2-4 Big Ten record doesn’t tell the whole story for Illinois, which has lost by 10 or less three times in six games. John Groce’s team is facing another disappointing conference season if it can’t find a way to win some of those toss-up contests.

11. Minnesota (12-7, 1-5) – Up 4
Last Week: Lost to Iowa 75-77, Beat Rutgers 89-80 This Week: Tue at Nebraska, Sat vs Illinois

After losing four of their first five conference games by a combined 13 points (and the other by 12 in Maryland), Minnesota finally got on the right side of a Big Ten matchup Saturday against Rutgers. Now five straight winnable games offer Richard Pitino’s team a chance to get back in the race.

12. Northwestern (10-8, 1-4) – Even
Last Week: Lost to Illinois 67-72, Lost to Michigan 54-56 This Week: Thu vs OSU, Sun at #13 Maryland

Last week was a heartbreaking one for Northwestern, as it dropped three straight games by single digits. The Wildcats had a chance to beat Michigan State in East Lansing before being blown out in overtime, then fell at home 72-67 to Illinois, and finally missed a wide open layup that would have forced OT in Ann Arbor. Next up: Ohio State and Maryland.

13. Rutgers (10-9, 2-4) – Down 4
Last Week: Lost to #14 Maryland 65-73, Lost to Min 80-89 This Week: Tue vs Michigan, Sat at Penn State

New Brunswick, New Jersey is still buzzing about last weekend’s upset win over Wisconsin. But in the meantime, the Scarlett Knights have dropped two straight Big Ten games. Rutgers will look to get back on track at home against Michigan on Tuesday evening.

14. Penn State (12-6, 0-5) – Even
Last Week: Lost to Indiana 73-76, Lost to Purdue 77-84 OT This Week: Wed at MSU, Sat vs Rutgers

After gifting away a win to Purdue Saturday, Penn State remained the only winless team in Big Ten play. The Nittany Lions failed to rebound a free throw with seconds remaining and allowed a game-tying long ball at the buzzer. Remember Penn State’s 12-1 nonconference start? Neither do they.

Big Ten hoops power rankings: Week 3

Monday, January 12th, 2015


Power Rankings_header
Conference play is now two weeks in and there were plenty of moves up and down the rankings. Wisconsin finally relinquished the top spot as Michigan State shot up nine spots with a three-win week. Michigan joined their rivals as the only teams not to lose a game last week. The rest of the top five slid down one spot. Purdue, Northwestern, Penn State, and Minnesota each fell five spots and make up the bottom four as we head into Week 3.

Previous: Week 1, Week 2

1. Michigan State (12-5, 3-1) – Up 9
Last Week: Beat IU 70-50, Beat Iowa 75-61, Beat Northwestern 84-77 OT This Week: Sat at #14 Maryland

After a surprising home loss to start the conference season, Michigan State has bounced back with three straight wins to jump to the top of the standings. It hasn’t been pretty, as the Spartans have trailed for much of those three games, but Tom Izzo’s team is making strides.

2. Wisconsin (15-2, 3-1) – Down 1
Last Week: Beat Purdue 62-55, Lost to Rutgers 62-67 This Week: Thu vs Nebraska

Wisconsin’s eight-game winning streak came to a shocking end Sunday, when Rutgers pulled the massive upset at home to hand the Badgers their first Big Ten loss of the year.

3. Maryland (15-2, 3-1) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost to Illinois 57-64, Beat Purdue 69-60 This Week: Wed vs Rutgers, Sat vs Michigan State

The Big Ten season got off to a great start for Maryland with wins over MSU and Minnesota. A loss to Illinois brought the highly-ranked Terrapins back down to earth, but they bounced back Saturday with a win in Purdue.

4. Indiana (12-4, 2-1) – Up 1
Last Week: Lost to Michigan State 50-70, Beat #22 OSU 69-66 This Week: Tue vs PSU, Sun at Illinois

Tom Crean’s team took a double-digit lead into halftime at the Breslin Center on Jan. 5 before falling apart in the second half and dropping its first conference game by 20 points. Then the Hoosiers bounced back in a big way, beating the Buckeyes at home Saturday.

5. Ohio State (13-4, 2-2) – Down 1
Last Week: Beat Minnesota 74-72 2OT, Lost to Indiana 66-69 This Week: Tue vs Michigan, Sat at Iowa

If there’s one team in the Big Ten that needs to prove itself, it’s the Ohio State Buckeyes. Thad Matta’s team has played just four games against teams with winning records in power-five conferences, and the Buckeyes are 0-4 in those games.

6. Iowa (11-5, 2-1) – Down 3
Last Week: Beat Nebraska 70-59, Lost to MSU 61-75 This Week: Tue at Minnesota, Sat vs Ohio State

Iowa kicked off the Big Ten season with big wins in Columbus and against Nebraska, but got trounced at home in the second half against Michigan State. The slate doesn’t get any easier for the Hawkeyes as Minnesota, Ohio State and Wisconsin are up next.

7. Michigan (10-6, 3-1) – Up 4
Last Week: Beat Penn State 73-64, Beat Minnesota 62-57 This Week: Tue at Ohio State, Sat vs Northwestern

The defending Big Ten champs haven’t played the toughest conference schedule through two weeks, but the Wolverines have gutted out three wins and boast a share of the top spot at 3-1.

8. Nebraska (10-6, 2-2) – Up 6
Last Week: Lost to Iowa 59-70, Beat Rutgers 65-49, Beat Illinois 53-43 This Week: Thu at #7 Wisconsin

Nebraska was one of the best stories in college basketball last season after overcoming an 11-10 start to finish 19-12 and earn an NCAA Tournament bid. At 8-6, the Cornhuskers needed to turn on the gas to make another push in 2015, and two straight wins have them on the right track. A trip to Wisconsin is up next.

9. Rutgers (10-7, 2-2) – Up 3
Last Week: Lost to Nebraska 49-65, Beat #4 Wisconsin 67-62 This Week: Wed at #14 Maryland, Sat at Min

Just four games into its first season in the Big Ten, Rutgers has already knocked off the conference’s best team and potential Final Four candidate Wisconsin. The Scarlett Knights are off to a nice 2-2 start heading into another tough stretch of games.

10. Illinois (9-5, 0-1) – Up 3
Last Week: Beat #11 Maryland 64-57, Lost to Nebraska 43-53 This Week: Wed at Northwestern, Sun vs IU

A disappointing 1-3 start for Illinois’ Big Ten season is largely due to a brutal road schedule through the first two weeks. Illinois has lost in Ann Arbor, Columbus and Lincoln, three of the toughest places to play in the country. In its only home game, Illinois knocked off No. 11 Maryland 64-57

11. Purdue (10-7, 2-2) – Down 5
Last Week: Lost to #4 Wisconsin 55-62, Lost to #11 Maryland 60-69 This Week: Sat at Penn State

Purdue has dropped two straight games, but Matt Painter has to be pleased with the team’s effort early in the conference season. Home wins against Minnesota and Michigan precluded single-digit losses to No. 4 Wisconsin and No. 11 Maryland to land Purdue at 2-2.

12. Northwestern (10-6, 1-2) – Down 5
Last Week: Lost to Michigan State 77-84 OT This Week: Wed vs Illinois, Saturday at Michigan

After a week off to prepare for the Spartans in East Lansing, Northwestern pushed MSU into overtime but ran out of gas to fall short of a major upset. The Wildcats aren’t one of the stronger teams in the Big Ten, but Chris Collins clearly has them trending in the right direction.

13. Penn State (12-4, 0-3) – Down 5
Last Week: Lost to Michigan 64-73 This Week: Tue at Indiana, Sat vs Purdue

Penn State basketball was picking up steam for the first time in years after a 12-1 nonconference season. But a blowout loss to Wisconsin and two close shaves with Rutgers and Michigan have dropped the Nittany Lions to 0-3.

14. Minnesota (11-6, 0-4) – Down 5
Last Week: Lost to #22 OSU 72-74 2OT, Lost to Michigan 57-62 This Week: Tue vs Iowa, Sat vs Rutgers

A weak resume of wins in the nonconference season has been exposed during the first two weeks of Minnesota’s Big Ten schedule. The Gophers are struggling to finish games and have fallen into last place at 0-4.

Big Ten hoops power rankings: Week 2

Monday, January 5th, 2015


Power Rankings_header
A week into Big Ten play and each team has played at least one conference game. The top two teams stayed the same while everyone else shuffled up and down. Iowa and Purdue were the biggest risers while Illinois took the biggest plunge.

Previous: Week 1

1. Wisconsin (14-1, 2-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat Penn State 89-72, Beat Northwestern 81-58 This Week: Wed vs Purdue, Sun at Rutgers

Wisconsin kicked off the conference season with a couple of blowout wins, smashing Penn State by 17 and Northwestern by 23. The Badgers will carry their seven-game winning streak into very winnable pair of games this week.

2. Maryland (14-1, 2-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat MSU 68-66 2OT, Beat Minnesota 70-58 This Week: Wed at Illinois, Sat at Purdue

Maryland’s resume is incredibly similar to that of Wisconsin, as the Terps have only lost their ACC/Big Ten Challenge game to a top-three opponent. Maryland picked up a huge win in their first Big Ten matchup, knocking off the Spartans in East Lansing.

3. Iowa (10-4, 1-0) – Up 5
Last Week: Beat #20 Ohio State 71-65 This Week: Mon vs Nebraska, Thurs vs Michigan State

The Big Ten season got off to a great start for Iowa, which went into Columbus and knocked off the No. 20 Buckeyes. The Hawkeyes are facing a gauntlet of a schedule over their next five games.

4. Ohio State (12-3, 1-1) – Up 1
Last Week: Lost to Iowa 65-71, Beat Illinois 77-61 This Week: Tue at Minnesota, Sat at Indiana

Thad Matta’s team quickly recovered from a stunning home loss to start the conference season by thrashing Illinois 77-61 Saturday. Now Ohio State hits the road for matchups with Minnesota and Indiana.

5. Indiana (11-3, 1-0) – Down 1
Last Week: Beat Nebraska 70-65 This Week: Mon at Michigan State, Sat vs #22 Ohio State

An overtime loss to Georgetown soured the end of Indiana’s non-conference season, but they bounced back to beat Nebraska on the road in their Big Ten opener, something only the conference-champion Wolverines did all of last season.

6. Purdue (10-5, 2-0) – Up 6
Last Week: Beat Minn 72-68, Beat Michigan 64-51 This Week: Wed at #4 Wisconsin, Sat vs #11 Maryland

The most surprising team through one week of Big Ten games might be the Boilermakers, who beat two teams that figured to be among the league’s leaders at the beginning of the year. If Purdue wins in Wisconsin Wednesday, that’ll turn some heads.

7. Northwestern (10-5 1-1) – Up 3
Last Week: Beat Rutgers 51-47, Lost to #4 Wisconsin 58-81 This Week: Sunday at Michigan State

The Wildcats were on a roll to finish out the non-conference season before hitting a brick wall at home against Wisconsin. Chris Collins might feel the wrath of an alarmingly easy schedule now that Big Ten play has started.

8. Penn State (12-3, 0-2) – Down 5
Last Week: Lost to #4 Wisconsin 72-89, Lost to Rutgers 46-50 This Week: Tue vs Michigan

Penn State was expected to lose its Big Ten opener to Wisconsin, but when it dropped Saturday’s showdown with Rutgers, the 12-1 non-conference record started to look a little fluky.

9. Minnesota (11-4, 0-2) – Down 2
Last Week: Lost to Purdue 68-72, Lost to #12 MD 58-70 This Week: Tue vs #22 OSU, Sat at Michigan

Richard Pitino’s team has only played three tough games, and Minnesota lost all three of them by at least nine points. The Gophers will carry an 0-2 conference record into a matchup with Ohio State.

10. Michigan State (9-5, 0-1) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost to #12 Maryland 66-68 2OT This Week: Mon vs Indiana, Thu at Iowa, Sun vs NW

After righting the ship against The Citadel following an unthinkable loss to Texas Southern, Michigan State dropped its Big Ten opener at home to newcomer Maryland.

11. Michigan (8-6, 1-1) – Up 3
Last Week: Beat Illinois 73-65 OT, Lost to Purdue 51-64 This Week: Tue at Penn State, Sat vs Minnesota

It looked like Michigan might start to turn its season around with a win over Illinois in the Big Ten opener, but a horrific offensive display in the second half against Purdue has dropped Michigan near the bottom of the league in contention status.

12. Rutgers (9-6, 1-1) – Up 1
Last Week: Lost to NW 47-51, Beat PSU 50-46 This Week: Thu at Nebraska, Sun vs #4 Wisconsin

Rutgers has struggled to put together a consistent stretch all season, never winning more than two games in a row. The trend continued in the conference opener, when the Scarlet Knights fell at home to Northwestern.

13. Illinois (10-5, 0-2) – Down 7
Last Week: Lost to Mich 65-73 OT, Lost to #20 OSU 61-77 This Week: Wed vs #11 Maryland, Sun at Neb

No, this week’s Illinois games were not re-runs. For the third straight season, Jon Groce’s team put together a strong non-conference season, only to drop the ball at the beginning of Big Ten play.

14. Nebraska (8-5, 0-1) – Down 3
Last Week: Lost to Indiana 65-70 This Week: Thu vs Rutgers, Sun vs Illinois

Nebraska may be the only team more disappointing than Michigan in the Big Ten. The Cornhuskers have no great wins and three ugly losses with a loaded conference slate on tap.

Big Ten hoops power rankings: Week 1

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014


Power Rankings_header
Welcome to our first Big Ten basketball power rankings of the season. We waited until the non-conference season was over so we could get a more complete picture of each team without preseason expectations impacting our rankings. These will be re-ranked each week for the remainder of the season. Also, please note that this week’s rankings were done before Tuesday’s games and was meant to be posted at the beginning of the week, but a little football news happened (you may have heard), so this got pushed. It will be posted Monday or Tuesday the rest of the season.

1. Wisconsin (12-1, 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat Cal 68-56, Beat Buffalo 68-56 This Week: Wed vs Penn State, Sun at Northwestern

Wisconsin’s nonconference season lacked a major splash after it lost to Duke, the only ranked team on its schedule, but the Badgers are still 12-1 with a national championship as their ceiling.

2. Maryland (12-1, 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat Oakland 72-56 This Week: Tues @ MSU, Sat vs Minnesota

Here’s the best surprise in the Big Ten so far: The Maryland Terrapins. Maryland won 12 games before the start of its first Big Ten schedule, including an upset victory over Iowa State in November. Now the Terps will start the conference season with a bang in East Lansing.

3. Penn State (12-1, 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat Dartmouth 69-49 This Week: Wed @ #4 Wisconsin, Sat @ Rutgers

Penn State looks ready to take another step in the right direction this season, winning all but one of their nonconference games. An overtime loss to Charlotte is overshadowed by quality wins over Virginia Tech and USC.

4. Indiana (10-3, 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat New Orleans 79-59, Lost to Georgetown 87-91 OT This Week: Wed @ Nebraska

Though they dropped three games during the nonconference season, Indiana played one of the toughest schedules in the Big Ten and picked up wins over SMU, Butler and Pitt.

5. Ohio State (11-2, 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat Miami OH 93-55, Beat Wright St 100-55 This Week: Tue vs Iowa, Sat vs Illinois

It’s tough to judge the new-look Buckeyes at this point in the season, as they weren’t very competitive in either of their marquee matchups, falling to both Louisville and North Carolina.

6. Illinois (10-3, 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat Kennesaw State 93-45 This Week: Tue @ Michigan, Sat @ #20 Ohio State

John Groce’s team was one rough stretch away from having an incredible nonconference season, as it dropped three of four games in early December. Nonetheless, Illinois is 10-3 and carries one of the nation’s most dangerous offenses into Big Ten play.

7. Minnesota (11-2 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat Furman 86-76, Beat UNCW 108-82 This Week: Wed @ Purdue, Sat @ #12 Maryland

Louisville and St. John’s knocked off the Gophers early in the season, but Richard Pitino’s team has won eight straight games heading into the Big Ten gauntlet.

8. Iowa (9-4, 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat North Florida 80-70 This Week: Tue @ #20 Ohio State

Iowa’s preconference season was filled with ups and downs, including a major road win over North Carolina in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge and last week’s loss to Northern Iowa.

9. Michigan State (9-4, 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat The Citadel 82-56 This Week: Tue vs #12 Maryland

Tom Izzo teams always seem to struggle early in the season and improve as the tournament draws nearer, but an offseason with four losses, including one to an awful Texas Southern team, has raised concerns in East Lansing.

10. Northwestern (9-4, 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat UIC 63-46, Beat N. Kentucky 76-55 This Week: Tue @ Rutgers, Sun vs #4 Wisconsin

The Big Ten isn’t expecting much of Northwestern this season, but the Cats did with nine games before the conference schedule and have a chance to play spoiler like they did in 2014.

11. Nebraska (8-4, 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Lost to Hawaii 58-66, Beat LMU 50-42 OT, Beat Ohio 71-58 This Week: Wed vs Indiana

What a disappointing start for Nebraska. A team that entered the season with heightened expectations has fallen to four unranked teams and sits near the bottom of the Big Ten. The Cornhuskers won’t play their first ranked team until Jan. 15 against Wisconsin.

12. Purdue (8-5, 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Lost to Gardner-Webb 84-89 This Week: Wed vs Minnesota, Sat vs Michigan

Purdue battled through another mediocre nonconference season in 2014, winning eight games but entering conference play on a three-game losing streak. It did make a nice three-game run in November-December, topping Missouri, BYU and N.C. State in a row.

13. Rutgers (8-5, 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat Sacred Heart 79-54, Beat Monmouth 59-58 This Week: Tues vs Northwestern, Sat vs PSU

Rutgers was a punching bag for much of their for Big Ten nonconference season, losing four games by double digits and scoring just 26 points in a loss to Virginia. Now the school’s first Big Ten schedule looms, starting at home against Northwestern.

14. Michigan (7-5, 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat Coppin State 72-56 This Week: Tue vs Illinois, Sat at Purdue

The Wolverines were the talk of the nation for the latter part of the offseason, losing four straight games to N.J.I.T., Eastern Michigan, Arizona and SMU. Michigan suffered through the worst offseason of any contending team in the country, and will have to make a huge splash in the conference season to earn a tournament bid.

Big Ten power rankings: Week 13

Thursday, November 27th, 2014


Power Rankings_header

East Division
1. Ohio State (10-1, 7-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat Indiana 42-27 This Week: Sat vs Michigan (5-6, 3-4), 12pm, ABC

The Buckeyes got a real scare Saturday against Indiana, as the Hoosiers held a lead in the third quarter. OSU posted a late charge to win by 15, but the seemingly unbeatable OSU team from the last month looked vulnerable against the last-place Hoosiers. Ohio State is just a win over Michigan away from another undefeated conference season.

2. Michigan State (9-2, 6-1) – Even
Last Week: Beat Rutgers 45-3 This Week: Sat at Penn State (6-5, 2-5), 3:30pm, ABC/ESPN2

Michigan State kept rolling after the bounce-back win over Maryland last weekend with a 45-3 drubbing of Rutgers. The Spartans will finish the season in Penn State.

3. Maryland (7-4, 4-3) – Up 1
Last Week: Beat Michigan 23-16 This Week: Sat vs Rutgers (6-5, 2-5), 3:30pm, ESPNU

It wasn’t pretty, and they needed help from some mindless Wolverines penalties, but the Terrapins pulled out an upset win in the Big House to spoil Michigan’s senior day Saturday.

4. Michigan (5-6, 3-4) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost to Maryland 16-23 This Week: Sat at #6 Ohio State (10-1, 7-1), 12pm, ABC

Michigan had a golden opportunity to salvage a bowl game from a crumbling 2014 season Saturday, but blew it with two penalties that called back a touchdown and kept a Maryland drive alive. Now a likely beat down in Columbus will cap off a losing season for Michigan.

5. Penn State (6-5, 2-5) – Even
Last Week: Lost to Illinois 14-16 This Week: Sat vs #10 Michigan State (9-2, 6-1), 3:30pm, ABC/ESPN2

Penn State falls in at No. 5, demonstrating just how weak the East has been this season. Penn State scored just 14 points and lost to an awful Illinois team on the road Saturday.

6. Rutgers (6-5, 2-5) – Even
Last Week: Lost to #11 Michigan State 3-45 This Week: Sat at Maryland (7-4, 4-3), 3:30pm, ESPNU

The Big Ten season can’t end soon enough for Rutgers, who suffered another enormous beating, this time at the hands of Michigan State, on Saturday. The regular season will end with a trip to Maryland.

7. Indiana (3-8, 0-7) – Even
Last Week: Lost to #6 Ohio State 27-42 This Week: Sat vs Purdue (3-8, 1-6), 12pm, Big Ten Network

Indiana almost did the unthinkable and pulled off the road upset in Columbus Saturday, but a late-fourth quarter collapse erased that opportunity and left the Hoosiers with just one last chance at a conference win: Purdue.

B1G East Week 13

West Division
1. Wisconsin (9-2, 6-1) – Even
Last Week: Beat Iowa 26-24 This Week: Sat vs #18 Minnesota (8-3, 5-2), 3:30pm, Big Ten Network

The Badgers faced a tough challenge Saturday in traveling to Iowa City to face a desperate Hawkeyes team. With the lead in the West Division on the line, Wisconsin held off Iowa for the 26-24 win. Now a matchup with Minnesota will determine the West title.

2. Minnesota (8-3, 5-2) – Even
Last Week: Beat #23 Nebraska 28-24 This Week: Sat at #14 Wisconsin (9-2, 6-1), 3:30pm, Big Ten Network

Minnesota hung around all season in the West race, but on Saturday they made their first real move that turned heads by upsetting Nebraska on the road. Now Minnesota has given itself a chance to win the division with a game in Madison, Wisconsin on the horizon.

3. Iowa (7-4, 4-3) – Even
Last Week: Lost to #16 Wisconsin 24-26 This Week: Sat vs Nebraska (8-3, 4-3), 12pm, ABC

Iowa needed to win its final two games to win the West Division, and fell just two points short of keeping those hopes alive against Wisconsin Saturday. Now the season finale is a battle for third place with the Cornhuskers.

4. Nebraska (8-3, 4-3) – Even
Last Week: Lost to #25 Minnesota 24-28 This Week: Sat vs Iowa (7-4, 4-3), 12pm, ABC

Nebraska’s season did a complete U-turn in the last two weeks, as it saw Big Ten championship aspirations crumble after loses to both Wisconsin and Minnesota. Now the Cornhuskers have to avoid a third straight loss against Iowa to finish in the top three in the West.

5. Northwestern (5-6, 3-4) – Even
Last Week: Beat Purdue 38-14 This Week: Sat vs Illinois (5-6, 2-5), 12pm, ESPNU

This final two-game stretch for Northwestern is one of the quietest stories that should be a big deal in the Big Ten. With a 3-6 record heading into a game against nationally-ranked Notre Dame, the Wildcats’ bowl chances looked almost laughable. Now, after a second straight win, only 2-5 Illinois stands in the way of Northwestern’s postseason aspirations.

6. Illinois (5-6, 2-5) – Even
Last Week: Beat Penn State 16-14 This Week: Sat at Northwestern (5-6, 3-4), 12pm, ESPNU

Illinois kept Penn State’s nightmare season going Saturday by holding the Nittany Lions to 14 points for its second Big Ten win. Now the Illini can qualify for a bowl game with a win over Northwestern this weekend.

7. Purdue (3-8, 1-6) – Even
Last Week: Lost to Northwestern 14-38 This Week: Sat at Indiana (3-8, 0-7), 12pm, Big Ten Network

Since losing by just one in Minnesota five weeks ago, Purdue has lost three straight games by at least 18 points. The season ends with a rivalry game against Indiana, the Big Ten’s other last-place team.

B1G West Week 13

Big Ten power rankings: Week 12

Thursday, November 20th, 2014


Power Rankings_header

East Division
1. Ohio State (9-1, 6-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat #25 Minnesota 31-24 This Week: Sat vs Indiana (3-7, 0-6), 12pm, Big Ten Network

Ohio State maintained the inside track to the Big Ten title game by outlasting a scrappy Minnesota team in the snowy conditions of Minneapolis. The Buckeyes have their eyes on a Big Ten championship and a spot in the first college football playoff.

2. Michigan State (8-2, 5-1) – Even
Last Week: Beat Maryland 37-15 This Week: Sat vs Rutgers (6-4, 2-4), 12pm, Big Ten Network

A night game on the road after a disappointing loss could have turned into a disaster for the Spartans, but they took care of Maryland with ease and kept their slim hopes at a title alive.

3. Michigan (5-5, 3-3) – Even
Last Week: Bye This Week: Sat vs Maryland (6-4, 3-3), 3:30pm, Big Ten Network

During the bye week, Michigan watched its in-state rival draw up a perfect script for beating Maryland. If the Wolverines can take care of the Terps on Senior Day, it’ll mean a trip to a bowl game next month.

4. Maryland (6-4, 3-3) – Even
Last Week: Lost to #12 Michigan State 15-37 This Week: Sat at Michigan (5-5, 3-3), 3:30pm, Big Ten Network

Maryland blew its final chance to pick up a statement win Saturday, when they were handled by the Spartans during a black out in their own stadium. Now third place in the East is up for grabs in Ann Arbor.

5. Penn State (6-4, 2-4) – Even
Last Week: Beat Temple 30-13 This Week: Sat at Illinois (4-6, 1-5), 12pm, ESPN2

Penn State finally qualified for a bowl game with a second straight win Saturday, beating Temple to move to 6-4. The Nittany Lions will count on their defense to assure themselves a winning record against Illinois this weekend.

6. Rutgers (6-4, 2-4) – Even
Last Week: Beat Indiana 45-23 This Week: Sat at #11 Michigan State (8-2, 5-1), 12pm, Big Ten Network

Fans of the Scarlett Knights were starting to get a little uncomfortable after the team’s three-game losing streak put their bowl chances in jeopardy. But a win over Indiana but those worries at bay as Rutgers draws the unenviable Week 13 task of traveling to East Lansing.

7. Indiana (3-7, 0-6) – Even
Last Week: Lost to Rutgers 23-45 This Week: Sat at #6 Ohio State (9-1, 6-0), 12pm, Big Ten Network

Everyone knew it was going to happen, but a loss on Saturday made it official: Indiana will not go bowling this year. Injuries to their top two quarterback options have sunk a Hoosiers’ offense that carried the team through the first half of the season.

B1G East Week 12

West Division
1. Wisconsin (8-2, 5-1) – Up 2
Last Week: Beat #16 Nebraska 59-24 This Week: Sat at Iowa (7-3, 4-2), 3:30pm, ABC/ESPN2

Wisconsin made a huge statement Saturday when it welcomed Nebraska to town and waxed the Cornhuskers 59-24. Melvin Gordon stole the show, rushing for an NCAA record 408 yards en route to four scores.

2. Minnesota (7-3, 4-2) – Even
Last Week: Lost to #8 Ohio State 24-31 This Week: Sat at #23 Nebraska (8-2, 4-2), 12pm, ESPN

Minnesota hung with the only undefeated team in the Big Ten all game Saturday, but just couldn’t conjure up enough offense to pull the upset. The Gophers still control their own destiny in the West, as trips to Nebraska and Wisconsin loom.

3. Iowa (7-3, 4-2) – Down 1
Last Week: Beat Illinois 30-14 This Week: Sat vs #16 Wisconsin (8-2, 5-1), 3:30pm, ABC/ESPN2

Iowa bounced back from a loss to Minnesota by beating up on the Illini 30-14. Now, if Iowa can beat Wisconsin and Nebraska at home to finish the season, it’ll be just a Gophers loss away from winning the West.

4. Nebraska (8-2, 4-2) – Down 3
Last Week: Lost to #20 Wisconsin 24-59 This Week: Sat vs #25 Minnesota (7-3, 4-2), 12pm, ESPN

The whole country saw Nebraska play punching bag for the Badgers Saturday. The Cornhuskers were exposed as pretenders in the Big Ten and still have no quality wins to beef up their resume.

5. Northwestern (4-6, 2-4) – Up 1
Last Week: Beat #18 Notre Dame 43-40 OT This Week: Sat at Purdue (3-7, 1-5), 12pm, ESPNU

Just when it looked like Northwestern had hit rock bottom after a 10-9 home loss to Michigan, the Wildcats came out of nowhere to upset a ranked Notre Dame team. Now only games against Purdue and Illinois, the two worst teams in the West, stand between Northwestern and the postseason.

6. Illinois (4-6, 1-5) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost to Iowa 14-30 This Week: Sat vs Penn State (6-4, 2-4), 12pm, ESPN2

Illinois got pounded again Saturday, this time at the hands of the Iowa Hawkeyes. Now Penn State visits the Illini for Senior Night.

7. Purdue (3-7, 1-5) – Down 2
Last Week: Bye This Week: Sat vs Northwestern (4-6, 2-4), 12pm, ESPNU

Purdue took another bye week this weekend to think about its current four-game losing streak. Last time the Boilermakers came out of a bye they got crushed by 21 points on the road.

B1G West Week 12

Big Ten power rankings: Week 11

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014


Power Rankings_header

East Division
1. Ohio State (8-1, 5-0) – Up 1
Last Week: Beat #8 Michigan State 49-37 This Week: Sat at Minnesota (7-2, 4-1), 12pm, ABC

J.T. Barrett’s improvement over the course of the regular season is a real testament to Urban Meyer and his coaching staff. The freshman looked lost in the spread offense early in the season, but has now led the Buckeyes to 49 or more points in six of their last seven games. With the win over Michigan State, Ohio State will likely represent the East Division in Indianapolis, barring an implosion in its final three games.

2. Michigan State (7-2, 4-1) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost to #14 Ohio State 37-49 This Week: Sat at Maryland (6-3, 3-2), 8pm, Big Ten Network

Does the loss to Ohio State make this season a failure for Mark Dantonio’s squad? The Spartans came into 2014 with the goals of winning the Big Ten and participating in the first college football playoff. Now, with losses to its top two opponents, Michigan State has only one impressive win: Against Nebraska.

3. Michigan (5-5, 3-3) – Up 1
Last Week: Beat Northwestern 10-9 This Week: Bye (11/22 vs Maryland)

If there’s ever such a thing as an ugly win, Michigan mastered the art in Evanston Saturday. The Wolverines needed a missed field goal, three turnovers and two fourth down stops to stay in the game, and then Trevor Siemian fell backwards on the game-deciding two-point conversion. But at the end of the day, Michigan has its first two-game winning streak of the year and a real chance to gain bowl eligibility after the bye week.

4. Maryland (6-3, 3-2) – Down 1
Last Week: Bye This Week: Sat vs #8 Michigan State (7-2, 4-1), 8pm, Big Ten Network

Maryland had a bye week to prepare for Michigan State’s trip to Byrd Stadium, and the Spartan loss won’t do the Terps any favors. An angry Spartan team will be visiting Maryland Saturday night as Maryland looked to take over second place in the East.

5. Penn State (5-4, 2-4) – Even
Last Week: Beat Indiana 13-7 This Week: Sat vs Temple (5-4, 3-3), 12pm, ESPN2

Saturday was the perfect remedy for Penn State’s four-game losing streak: A matchup with Big Ten bottom-feeder Indiana. The Nittany Lions struggled to move the ball, putting up just 13 points on Indiana’s atrocious defense, but allowed just one touchdown to pull out the 13-7 win. Penn State will need a win against Temple or Illinois to become bowl eligible.

6. Rutgers (5-4, 1-4) – Even
Last Week: Bye This Week: Sat vs Indiana (3-6, 0-5), 3:30pm, Big Ten Network

There wasn’t a team in the Big Ten that needed a bye week as badly as Rutgers did this weekend. The Scarlett Knights raced out to a 5-1 start this season before hitting their first Big Ten gauntlet stretch. Ohio State, Nebraska and Wisconsin combined to outscore Rutgers by a total score of 135-41. Now Indiana visits in a game Rutgers absolutely needs to win.

7. Indiana (3-6, 0-5) – Even
Last Week: Lost to Penn State 7-13 This Week: Sat at Rutgers (5-4, 1-4), 3:30pm, Big Ten Network

Will Indiana pick up a conference win this season? It’s tough to say, as its best chance came at home against a reeling Penn State team Saturday. With a two-game road stretch upcoming, Indiana can look at the finale against Purdue as an opportunity.

B1G East Week 11

West Division
1. Nebraska (8-1, 4-1) – Even
Last Week: Bye This Week: Sat at #25 Wisconsin (7-2, 4-1), 3:30pm, ABC

The biggest road trip of the season is coming up for Nebraska, as a win in Madison would all but clinch the West Division crown. The Cornhuskers’ best win on the season is against a solid Miami team at home, so this weekend will go a long way in determining if they’re the real deal.

2. Minnesota (6-2, 3-1) – Up 2
Last Week: Beat Iowa 51-14 This Week: Sat vs #14 Ohio State (8-1, 5-0), 12pm, ABC

Is there any question that Jerry Kill did his job during a bye week? After Minnesota dropped the ball in Illinois, it came back and rocked Iowa’s world at home. The Gophers put up a season-high 51 points on one of the stronger defenses in the conference to improve to 4-1 in the Big Ten. Now Minnesota gets a real test as it catches OSU off a huge win in what could really bring Kill’s team into the national spotlight.

3. Wisconsin (7-2, 4-1) – Down 1
Last Week: Beat Purdue 34-16 This Week: Sat vs #13 Nebraska (8-1, 4-1), 3:30pm, ABC

Wisconsin cruised through a potential trap game Saturday, pounding Purdue 34-16 in West Lafayette with the matchup against Nebraska looming. This weekend’s matchup will decide the inside track for the ticket to Indy.

4. Iowa (6-3, 3-2) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost to Minnesota 14-51 This Week: Sat at Illinois (4-5, 1-4), 12pm, Big Ten Network

The bottom of the West Division is so bad that the Hawkeyes get the nod at No. 4 simply for being bowl eligible. A 37-point loss to Minnesota didn’t technically change Iowa’s goal of winning the Big Ten, but there’s no doubt the Hawkeyes simply don’t have it this season.

5. Illinois (3-6, 1-4) – Up 1
Last Week: Bye This Week: Sat vs Iowa (6-3, 3-2), 12pm, Big Ten Network

Illinois had a bye week after being pounded by the Buckeyes in Columbus. The reeling Hawkeyes come to town next.

6. Northwestern (3-6, 2-4) – Up 1
Last Week: Lost to Michigan 9-10 This Week: Sat at #10 Notre Dame (7-2), 3:30pm, NBC

Northwestern played one of the ugliest games of the season Saturday, scoring just nine points and handing the game to Michigan by failing on a predictable two-point conversion. Now a trip to Notre Dame will likely be loss No. 5 in a row.

7. Purdue (3-7, 1-5) – Down 2
Last Week: Lost to #25 Wisconsin 16-34 This Week: Bye (11/22 vs Northwestern)

Purdue posted almost identical losses to start November, falling by 21 to Nebraska and 18 to Wisconsin. Now Northwestern will visit for what promises to be an unglamorous sixty minutes.

B1G West Week 11

Big Ten power rankings: Week 10

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014


Power Rankings_header

East Division
1. Michigan State (7-1, 4-0) – Even
Last Week: Bye This Week: Sat vs #14 Ohio State (7-1, 4-0), 8pm, ABC

Since the start of the Big Ten season, the Spartans have been the favorite to represent the East Division in Indianapolis. The biggest hurdle in front of that goal comes this weekend against the Buckeyes.

2. Ohio State (7-1, 4-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat Illinois 55-14 This Week: Sat at #8 Michigan State (7-1, 4-0), 8pm, ABC

While Ohio State didn’t technically have a bye week to prepare for this weekend’s College Gameday matchup like MSU did, a 55-14 waxing of Illinois took about the same effort. The Buckeyes bounced back from a close time in Happy Valley to score at least 50 points and win by at least 20 for the fifth time in six weeks.

3. Maryland (6-3, 3-2) – Even
Last Week: Beat Penn State 20-19 This Week: Bye (11/15 vs #8 Michigan State)

If the Terrapins wanted to make enemies, they got what they wanted in State College last Saturday. After refusing to shake hands before the coin toss, Maryland edged out a 20-19 win against their rivals to improve their record to 2-35-1. The Terps are now 3-2 in their first Big Ten campaign.

4. Michigan (4-5, 2-3) – Up 2
Last Week: Beat Indiana 34-10 This Week: Sat at Northwestern (3-5, 2-3), 3:30pm, ESPN2

Michigan has arguably over-performed in four straight weeks since getting blown out at home against Minnesota. A win over Indiana during homecoming kept Brady Hoke’s bowl aspirations alive, but the Wolverines will need wins in the next two weeks before heading to Columbus.

5. Penn State (4-4, 1-4) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost to Maryland 19-20 This Week: Sat at Indiana (3-5, 0-4), 12pm, Big Ten Network

Remember when Penn State was 4-0? Don’t worry, not many do, because Saturday gave the Nittany Lions a fourth straight loss, three of which came at home. Now if PSU doesn’t make a bowl game, it won’t be due to sanctions, but an epic collapse. If the Nittany Lions don’t win their next three games, fans in Happy Valley will be calling for change once again.

6. Rutgers (5-4, 1-4) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost to Wisconsin 0-37 This Week: Bye (11/15 vs Indiana)

On one hand, Rutgers has been outscored 135-41 during its current three-game losing streak. But on the other hand, the Scarlet Knights have played three of the best four teams in the conference, and nobody expected them to contend, anyways. After the bye week Rutgers will face off with Indiana, a game that will decide its bowl fate.

7. Indiana (3-5, 0-4) – Even
Last Week: Lost to Michigan 10-34 This Week: Sat vs Penn State (4-4, 1-4), 12pm, Big Ten Network

Last year Indiana was terrible on defense but treated fans to an impressive offensive showing each week. Now, injuries and turnovers have taken even that away, and the Hoosiers are reeling.

BIG East Week 10

West Division
1. Nebraska (8-1, 4-1) – Even
Last Week: Beat Purdue 35-14 This Week: Bye (11/15 at Wisconsin)

How good is Nebraska? Nobody really knows, yet. The Cornhuskers are 8-1, but their best win is over an unranked Miami (Fl) team. A fourth-quarter charge made the game against MSU look respectable, but Nebraska really hasn’t passed any tests this season, only several pop quizzes. After the bye week Wisconsin will welcome Nebraska to Madison for a potential Big Ten Championship play-in game.

2. Wisconsin (6-2, 3-1) – Even
Last Week: Beat Rutgers 37-0 This Week: Sat at Purdue (3-6, 1-4), 12pm, ESPNU

On the surface, a 37-0 road win looks like a definite sign that Wisconsin has returned to form, but upon closer examination of the team’s schedule, there’s much left to prove. The Badgers’ best win is a toss-up between Maryland and Bowling Green, but both are greatly overshadowed by an Oct. 4 loss to Northwestern. Wisconsin should cruise past Purdue this weekend before the showdown with Nebraska.

3. Iowa (6-2, 3-1) – Up 1
Last Week: Beat Northwestern 48-7 This Week: Sat at Minnesota (6-2, 3-1), 12pm, ESPN2

Iowa is the only team that has a chance to make the Big Ten West race truly interesting. The Hawkeyes bounced back from a tough loss at Maryland by sand-blasting Northwestern 48-7 in Iowa City. If Iowa can beat Minnesota and Illinois on the road over the next two weeks, it will set up home games against Wisconsin and Nebraska to finish the season. In other words, Iowa’s Big Ten destiny lies in those final two Saturdays in Kinnick.

4. Minnesota (6-2, 3-1) – Down 1
Last Week: Bye This Week: Sat vs Iowa (6-2, 3-1), 12pm, ESPN2

The bye week would have been much more fun in Minneapolis if the Gophers hadn’t surrendered their division lead by losing to last-place Illinois to finish October. Now, Minnesota faces a gauntlet down the stretch: Iowa, Ohio State, Nebraska and Wisconsin. If they want to shock the Big Ten world, the Golden Gophers will have to earn it.

5. Purdue (3-6, 1-4) – Up 2
Last Week: Lost to #15 Nebraska 14-35 This Week: Sat vs #25 Wisconsin (6-2, 3-1), 12pm, ESPNU

Purdue fans have to be dying for their team to finally complete an upset bid. Two fourth-quarter pushes fell short before a 35-14 loss to Nebraska this weekend, and now the Badgers will travel to West Lafayette. On the bright side, Northwestern and Indiana round out the season.

6. Illinois (4-5, 1-4) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost to #16 Ohio State 14-55 This Week: Bye (11/15 vs Iowa)

Illinois went back to playing Big Ten punching bag Saturday, losing by 41 in Columbus. The Illini’s last chance to play spoiler comes next weekend against Iowa.

7. Northwestern (3-5, 2-3) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost to Iowa 7-48 This Week: Sat vs Michigan (4-5, 2-3), 3:30pm, ESPN2

A three-game losing streak immediately followed Northwestern’s three-game winning streak that included an upset win over Wisconsin. Now the Wildcats will host their rival Wolverines Saturday in the kick-gate sequel that handed Chicago’s Big Ten team a triple-overtime loss.

BIG West Week 10