Northwestern beat Illinois, which beat conference surprise Penn State, which also lost a home game to Michigan, which gave Ohio State another bloody tough game after losing to Indiana back in January.
Indiana, of course, being the team that has also defeated Illinois, but not Northwestern or Iowa, the latter in two tries, very nearly beat Michigan State at the Breslin Center two weekends ago.
The Spartans, in turn, have by this point lost to just about everybody in rather spectacular fashion after starting the conference season with wins in four of their first five, including victories against Minnesota and Wisconsin, now widely regarded as the only team with a snowball’s chance in Hades of challenging Ohio State for anything more than a sportsmanship award in Indianapolis in March.
So I give up.
Inside the Hall Big Ten power rankings: Week 7
The Best We’ve Ever Had at 11. Indiana – NR; 12-12, 3-8; 32 total points
It’s lonely at the bottom. Maybe it’s a bit harsh to plug Indiana down here, considering that a one-point loss to Iowa is probably the difference between 11th and something more akin to eighth or ninth. But when you prove that you can play with Wisconsin and Michigan State on the road and beat ranked teams at home, losing for the fourth straight time to Iowa really just shouldn’t cut it anymore.
The Ignominious Tie at 10. Michigan State – NR; 13-10, 5-6; 28 total points
The Hawkeyes and Spartans tied for this ignominious (great word) double-digit disclaimer. Under the normal rules of rankings things, I think they’re technically ninth, but here at the power rankings, we believe life just isn’t fair. Sparty goes first because Izzo’s crew lost by 20 to the Hawkeyes last week, and have now lost five of their last six.
The Better Half of the Ignominious Tie at 10. Iowa – NR; 10-13, 3-8; 28 total points
Speak of five of six, that’s Iowa’s recent success over the aforementioned Hoosiers. They’re perpetually young, and perpetually flawed (or at least it seems that way), but it does seem a little bit like Fran McCaffrey’s boys have a little bit more fight in them than did the last regime. But the novelty of newness wears off over time.
Dancing Higher at 8. Michigan – NR; 14-10, 4-7; 24 total points
The biggest winners from the tie down at 10th? Our most common weekly 8-9 couple, Michigan and Northwestern. The Wolverines actually got themselves a nice win at Penn State (when was the last time somebody not from the state of Maine said those words?) and all of the sudden, the NIT looks like a very reachable goal for the Wolverines.
Dancing Even Higher at 7. Northwestern – NR; 14-8, 4-7; 23 total points
We really need to find the theme music to The Jeffersons. The Wildcats deserve that much. A quick check of the polls says that in four of the five weeks we’ve put this together, Northwestern has been at No. 8. Beat Illinois? Check. Move up to No. 7? Check. Still going to the NIT? Probably.
The Don’t Unpack No. 6. Penn State – NR; 12-10, 5-6; 17 total points
The Nits have had a wonderful season, unexpected and surprising. But it’s in danger now. In no particular order, their final seven: home-and-home with Northwestern and Minnesota, at Wisconsin and Michigan State, home to Ohio State. The home loss to Michigan is one they really might rue.
The Why Are We Here No. 5. Minnesota – Receiving votes AP/No. 25 Coaches; 16-7, 5-6; 15 total points
Here’s where the ITH rankings might need some defending. We’ve universally put Minnesota behind Illinois, but the sinking feeling has to be stronger among the orange-wearing faithful. Still, neither is in a good place, and neither ought feel comfortable at all about their postseason aspirations.
The “Also Receiving Votes” No. 4. Illinois – Receiving votes in both polls; 15-8, 5-5; 12 total points
This is really probably a vote more on talent and preseason hype. Demetri McCamey’s senior year was supposed to be an Oscar-worthy performance. His last four games (during which times Illinois has gone 1-3) have yielded an average of 7.75 points on 27 percent shooting and a pedestrian assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.3.
3. Wisconsin – No. 13 AP/No. 14 Coaches; 17-5, 7-3; 9 total points
You’re probably wondering why we’ve put Wisconsin here, when the Badgers beat Purdue last weekend, the two are tied on conference record and Bo Ryan’s boys are suddenly racing up the rankings and into the national consciousness. Well … I give up.
2. Purdue – AP No. 14/Coaches No. 12; 18-5, 7-3; 6 total points
Did I mention that I gave up? Let’s be fair and see these two are probably level right now. But Wisconsin has a trip to Purdue and two games with Ohio State left. So there’s that.
1. Ohio State – Consensus No. 1; 24-0, 11-0; 3 total points
Ohio State’s school newspaper is called The Lantern, which Jim Delany must be a fan of, because the Buckeyes are the Big Ten’s shining basketball light in a season filled with parity (or as I prefer to call it, especially in this case, “inexplicable chaos”). If we have to nitpick, we’ll point out that seven guys play most of Ohio State’s minutes, and two of its top five minutes earners are freshmen.