Big Ten Power Rankings: Non-conference edition

Tubby SmithInside the Hall’s power rankings are back and will appear throughout Big Ten play each Monday beginning Jan. 7. But as a precursor, let’s take a look at the league with the start of conference play just five days away.

Inside the Hall Big Ten power rankings: Non-conference edition

12. Penn State (7-4) … Perhaps the Nittany Lions don’t belong in the cellar, but after struggling to put away teams like Delaware State and Army at home, a blowout win over New Hampshire isn’t enough to justify putting them any higher. Without Tim Frazier (ruptured Achilles), the Nittany Lions may struggle to win more than one Big Ten game.

11. Purdue (5-6) … Oh how quickly things can change. Our offseason power rankings placed the Boilermakers at No. 7, but that type of optimism is hard to place when you look at Purdue’s current resume. Their best win is at Clemson and a loss at lowly Eastern Michigan back on Dec. 8 is tough to defend. Freshman big man A.J. Hammons has played well in spots, but Purdue needs more consistently from Terone Johnson (44.6 eFG%).

10. Nebraska (8-4) … Unlike Purdue, Nebraska doesn’t have an awful loss and while the computer numbers suggest they’ll be the league’s worst team, their performance to-date lands them at No. 10. The bad news for Huskers fans is their brutal start to league play: at Ohio State, Wisconsin, at Michigan and at Michigan State. Yikes.

9. Northwestern (9-4) … The Big Ten lost some star power when the Wildcats lost Drew Crawford for the season earlier this month with a torn labrum. Without Crawford, it’s tough to imagine Northwestern reaching the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.

8. Iowa (11-2) … This is where things begin to get tricky. The Hawkeyes have played one of the worst schedules in the country (331st according to KenPom.com), but this looks like a team that could be a tough out in league play. Roy Devyn Marble and Aaron White are an underrated duo and the ancillary pieces are better than they were a season ago.

7. Wisconsin (8-4) … We’re only six teams in and we’ve arrived at another club forced to overcome a substantial injury. For the Badgers, it’s guard Josh Gasser. This looks like the year that Bo Ryan’s streak of finishing in the top four in conference play will end, especially if his club continues to shoot 63.9 percent from the foul line.

6. Ohio State (9-2) … Losses to Duke and Kansas are nothing to frown upon, but who has Ohio State beaten? Their only win over a power conference team is Washington and Saturday’s loss to the Jayhawks raised a legitimate question: Does Deshaun Thomas have enough help on the offensive end?

5. Illinois (12-1) … So far, so good for first-year coach John Groce. The Illini won the Maui Invitational and also won at Gonzaga which is a huge sign of progress for a program that struggled to build a winning mentality under Bruce Weber. Trey Burke and Cody Zeller might be the league’s player of the year favorites, but Brandon Paul (19.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 3.6 apg) is playing like he belongs in the discussion, too.

4. Michigan State (11-2) … Counting out Tom Izzo is never a wise proposition and while the season opening loss to Connecticut raised questions, the Spartans bounced back and toppled Kansas, which could be a valuable win come Selection Sunday. A slimmed down Derrick Nix has been key to anchoring the frontline in East Lansing and Keith Appling, Gary Harris and Branden Dawson is a good enough nucleus to win big.

3. Minnesota (12-1) … This could be the most debated pick of this week’s rankings, but the Gophers are the best offensive rebounding team in the country and they’re also in the top 20 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. As much as Tubby Smith has been knocked by some national media (and Kentucky fans) for not being able to recruit, he’s proving this season that it’s not always about loading up on McDonald’s All-Americans.

2. Indiana (11-1) … The Hoosiers may have the most depth and upside of any team in the conference, but ultimately this team’s destiny will be determined by its ability to defend. Right now the computer numbers say that IU has the league’s best defense (and offense, too), but this group hasn’t played a true road game. The continued improvement of Victor Oladipo and Will Sheehey should bear even more fruit for the Hoosiers once league play begins.

1. Michigan (12-0) … The league’s lone unbeaten still standing, the Wolverines own three wins over teams in the top 35 of the KenPom.com rankings and can beat you in so many ways. The aforementioned Trey Burke is beginning to hit his stride, Tim Hardaway is shooting better from the perimeter and Michigan’s freshmen, led by Nik Stauskas, are making a huge impact. Circle the IU-Michigan game in Bloomington on Feb. 2 with a sharpie.

  • MillaRed

    I say Minny finishes 5th at best. Probably 6th.

  • And_One

    The IU-UM games this season will be something. OSU at #6? Ouch. I have thought all along they are overranked, but I still think they’re at least #4. I think we will find out, when it comes to Illinois, that the emperor is naked.

  • HoosierTrav

    I’ll say these things with 100% confidence: IU will, again, beat Purdue twice this year… IU will win the conference outright if it can beat either Iowa or Minn twice…. Beating Michigan @ Michigan will be equally as difficult as beating IU @ Assembly Hall…. Iowa is better than 8th…. Swap O$U w/ MSU and swap MSU w/ Illinois. I cannot wait to see Zeller/McGary and Yogi/Burke.
    In regards to playing Michigan, I’m worried about the guard match up with Hulls in the game. Sheehey and Oladipo HAVE TO start or play the most minutes in this one. They have zero weak links at the guard position. Yogi on Burke, Oladipo on Hardaway, Sheehey on Stauskas, Watford on GR3, and Zeller on either Mcgary or Morgan. This is our best chance to slow them down, while giving us an edge in the frontcourt. I love me some Hulls but I’d really hate to be CTC when deciding whether to put him on Burke or Hardaway. Either guy can have a career night against Hulls and completely lock him down defensively. I hope i eat my words but I’m more concerned with winning a conference title.

  • SCHoosier

    Have seen the Bucks 3 times on TV..no inside game. If they are not hitting the outside shot..and unless Thomas can get his shots..they have nothing on offense. Not bad defensively..but their offense can really go int he tank at times.

  • SCHoosier

    U are correct in that we need Hull’s floor leadership and 3 pt shooting but the defensive match ups with Jordy in there are a nightmare and the lineup you list is a good one.. UM is a tough tough match up this year…their freshman may be the best 3 pt shooter in the conference come years end cause Coach B’s offense is so good at getting open looks. Jordy has to work for everything he gets in IU’s offense.

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    I agree with everything. The road game I am looking forward to the most will also be the toughest contest for us to win the entire B1G season. Not Crisler Arena, not The Breslin Center, and not Carver Hawkeye. None of those will be as difficult as playing in The Barn. I have as much respect for that old fieldhouse as I do for any other B1G venue. Minnesota is long and athletic. If any team can match up with us, I believe it is Minnesota.

  • b_side

    Disagree that Jordy has to work for everything he gets. While we may not run enough screens for him like a true shooting guard, Yogi penetrates and kicks out to him numerous times for stand-still wide open looks. That’s in both the half court offense and fast break opportunities. It’s not like every shot Jordy takes is off the bounce.

  • Eastwood88_2

    Deflections=distractions. You reach in and miss, now your feet and body are out of position.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ken.bergmann2 Ken Bergmann

    IU vs Michigan are the games to watch. Wouldn’t be surprised to see them tie for the league title and have them play it out in the tourney title game.
    THAT would be a barn burner! Might have to scrounge up a few tickets for the tourney this year.

  • Kevin Tolliver

    That is key dont reach if it is out of reach. Active hands are good as long as you are playing in postion.

  • AtariHero

    I’m starting to think, increasingly, that Ferrell and Hulls arent’ going to work together. Hulls just isn’t able to defend the 2 guards, and he’s not nearly effective as a perimeter jump shooter. Ferrell’s defense isn’t there, and he makes too many turnovers. And I’m very concerned that their schedule has been incredibly weak – no road games, few difficult out of conference games. We should be following Duke and playing a tough road non-conference schedule. Though maybe Crean wanted to start soft to get all the new guys integrated and maybe Crean believes that having a weak early schedule will allow him to get Ferrell up to speed on the offense.

  • AtariHero

    I agree – I think Ferrell needs to come off the bench / play less. Hulls is the true leader of the team. We need his shooting and the offense runs much better when he’s out there. They need to play Abel more with Hulls, and sit Yogi more.

  • Miamihoosier

    Purdue is not worse than Nebraska. That is ridiculous. I wouldn’t be surprised if they upset Illinois in their Big Ten opener next week. Nebraska will struggle to get 4 wins in the league this year. I really think IU and Michigan will separate themselves from the pack, just because OSU, MSU, and Minny are not going to go in to Chrysler, or Assembly and win, while both the wolverines and hoosiers, will probably go 2 and 1 in those three team’s arenas.

  • HoosierDD

    I’m glad you brought that up. I’ve been snowed in today and re-watching some of the games, and have come to the same conclusion. Not a knock against Yogi I just feel our offense is more efficient when Hulls has the ball in his hands more. I remember a few games last year when Hulls would get on fire and take the game over for about 10 minutes when we needed it the most. I really haven’t seen that happen yet this year.

    I wish CTC would have experimented with different starting lineups against some of the teams like Mt. St. Marys. I think it has been the same starters for every game except for Watford being replaced once? I Really like Hulls, VO, Sheehey, Watford, and Zeller. However, that means we don’t have Sheehey’s energy as 6th man off the bench. But, over on espninsider they have been talking about Remy as being one of the best 7th men in CBB. Maybe he can take the leap to 6th? Honestly, I don’t see CTC making drastic changes to the starting lineup at this point though since he hasn’t done it yet.

  • marcusgresham

    Mr. Ellert from “The Middle” called. He told Tubby Smith he wants his moustache back.

  • HannerTime Hoosier

    Oops, you must be sacrificing animals to pagan godz! What you speak is blasphemy in the Hoosier Nation! How dare you, but I know we will NOT win banner #6 w/ Jordy & Yogi on the floor 2gether. Also if CWat is sucking, gotta play Remy, Jeremy and Hanner as subs … play the energy guys!

  • marcusgresham

    I get your point, but consider your last sentence. Remy isn’t a 4, Jeremy isn’t currently playing, and Hanner (at this point, at least,) is not an offensive threat.

  • http://www.facebook.com/doug.wilson.9404 Doug Wilson

    I like what you’re saying here, about deflections. They are only good if you can keep oneself between the basket and the ball.

  • SCHoosier

    It will be interesting to see how those deflection reach-ins are called in the conference. Usually..the refs start the season with tight calls on reach-ins, slap downs and body banging for position..then by mid-season its like Pro-wrestling and tightens up again during the stretch run and tournament. Hadveto be able to adjust as players.

  • PDXHoosier

    I just want to see Jordy look to take a 3 whenever the other team goes under a ball screen! He should be looking to shoot whenever he has any daylight!

  • PDXHoosier

    I agree that Purdue will end up being much better than Nebraska, especially in the B1G season. but PU has some terrible losses

  • PDXHoosier

    I haven’t seen them play this year, but history suggests they will fade as the B1G season goes on, so I would be surprised if they end up in the top 4 as well

  • HannerTime Hoosier

    I am eluding to the Big 10 season. Also, CTC is not limited to playing individuals by position. Be more open-minded.

  • calbert40

    I think Yogi deserves to start. He is averaging over 5 Assists per game, 3.3 RPG too. He has a 5:2 Assist to TO ratio. He is shooting nearly 90 percent FTs, and he is clutch. In short, he is the best PG on our roster. He is a true distributor who can score when needed. Our team runs much more smoothly when he is running the point.

    I would like to see Remy log more minutes, especially in games where the opponent’s guards are bigger, but Remy isn’t a distributor like Yogi is (18:11 A to TO ratio)

  • calbert40

    Exactly! A 5:2 assist-TO ratio is awesome, especially for a freshman. He isn’t a problem for this team. He isn’t the perfect player, but those don’t exist. He needs to get better on D, but riding pine isn’t going to make him better. Playing is.

    Outside of Zeller and Vic, I think he is the next most important player on the roster.

  • calbert40

    Better than Nebraska…sure, but beat Illinois next week? I don’t know about that.

    PU has looked absolutely awful when I’ve watched
    them. I think Painter is a really good coach, so they will win some
    games they shouldn’t, but I don’t think they have much chance against the better teams in the B1G. I think they will finish around 9th or 10th…ahead of PSU and Nebraska and battling it out with NW for 9th.

  • WatchingYogi_atYogis

    I agree. Crean does not see what you all see. Thank him for that.

  • Scott Berryman

    Ask Brad Stevens what he exploited. I bet every BIG coach calls Stevens and asks how Butler beat IU. And then every BIG coach will remember just how they always exploit Hulls and the Hoosiers……give the ball to whomever Hulls is guarding. drive on him or post him up.

  • marcusgresham

    I’d be fairly happy to see Jordy look to take a 3 whenever he’s across half court.

  • marcusgresham

    But you need some size on the floor. I don’t want to see a Villanova lineup out there.

  • WatchingYogi_atYogis

    I couldn’t disagree more that the lineup cannot work with Yogi and Hulls in there together. But I’m not going to argue with you. Instead, I’ve decided to take it on myself to do some objective research. Beginning with the Big Ten opener, I’m going to post on The Minute After, the scoring plus and minus with Yogi and Hulls in the linuep together versus the scoring plus and minus when they aren’t in there together. I’ll probably have to find some way to adjust the latter stat to remove some garbage minutes, as to not hold what the Smith-Davis crew does in the final minutes (hopefully we still have some games like that) against the rest of the lineup combinations that do not include our two undersized guards.
    Should be interesting.

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