Big Ten Power Rankings: February 16

  • 02/16/2015 4:26 pm in

The Inside the Hall Big Ten Power Rankings are back for another week, as Wisconsin maintains its three-game lead on the Big Ten field while just one game separates second place from sixth in the league standings.

Here’s a look at where each team stands following the seventh week of play in 2015: 

14. Rutgers (10-16, 2-11, PPP: .89, PPP Allowed: 1.04) (Last week: 13) It seems like ages ago that the Scarlet Knights managed to beat Wisconsin in Piscataway — but it really was just over a month ago. That’s because since that game, Rutgers has gone 0-9, most recently suffering a 10-point loss to Purdue at home on Thursday in a game in which they only scored 51 points. But in that game, their .82 points per possession rate was nowhere near its worst in league play — the Scarlet Knights have had three worse offensive outputs in Big Ten games this season. (Next up: Feb. 19 at Iowa; Feb. 22 vs. Indiana)

13. Northwestern (11-14, 2-10, PPP: 1.00, PPP Allowed: 1.13) (Last week: 14) … Well, the losing streak is finally over. It took more than a month and a half between wins, but on Sunday the Wildcats pulled out a 66-61 overtime win against Iowa in Evanston. And that didn’t come without drama, either — as the Wildcats came back late only to be forced into overtime by a Jared Uthoff 3-pointer with three seconds remaining. But in the extra period, a key Sanjay Lumpkin steal and Scottie Lindsey block with less than a minute to go allowed the Wildcats to seal the win — their first after 10 straight losses. (Next up: Feb. 18 at Minnesota; Feb. 21 vs. Penn State)

12. Penn State (15-11, 3-10, PPP: .98, PPP Allowed: 1.01) (Last week: 12) The Nittany Lions were quickly sent down to earth on Wednesday following their three-wins-in-five-games spurt with a 20-point loss at Ohio State. And against Maryland on Saturday in State College, the Nittany Lions trailed by as many as 13 points in the second half. But a 13-0 run from the 10:43 to 7:52 mark put them back within striking range, only for the Terrapins to close them out in the Bryce Jordan Center. It hasn’t come easy in Pat Chambers’ fourth season at Penn State, and for the fourth straight year under his reign the Nittany Lions will finish with a league record below .500. (Next up: Feb. 18 vs. Wisconsin; Feb. 21 at Northwestern)

11. Nebraska (13-12, 5-8, PPP: .93, PPP Allowed: 1.00) (Last week: 11) As far as Big Ten teams that have taken a step back this year are concerned, the Cornhuskers are right at the top of the list. They didn’t lose much personnel over the offseason, but here they are — coming off losses to Wisconsin and Purdue this past week and five losses in their past six. All season long their offense has been an issue, from field goal percentage to turnovers to poor offensive rebounding. And as the season nears its close, those same issues that have plagued the Cornhuskers all season have yet to be resolved — as evidenced in their 35.5 percent field goal percent against Wisconsin and their 40 percent field goal rate and lowly 23.5 percent offensive rebounding rate against Purdue. (Next up: Feb. 19 at Maryland; Feb. 22 vs. Iowa)

10. Michigan (13-12, 6-7, PPP: .99, PPP Allowed: 1.04) (Last week: 9) The biggest loss the Wolverines had in the injuries to Derrick Walton Jr. and Caris LeVert was their offense. And still, they have yet to recover from them. On Thursday at Illinois, defense got them to overtime at a 50-50 draw, but from there — much like in their overtime loss at Michigan State — the Wolverines did not show much else. The Fighting Illini would go on a 14-0 run in overtime before Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman hit two free throws in the closing seconds to give Michigan its only overtime points. They just simply lack enough weapons this season. (Next up: Feb. 17 vs. Michigan State; Feb. 22 vs. Ohio State)

9. Minnesota (16-10, 5-8, PPP: 1.02, PPP Allowed: 1.02) (Last week: 10) The Golden Gophers’ three-game winning streak reached its peak on Thursday night in Iowa City, as a 12-2 run put them ahead, 55-44, at Iowa with 2:48 to go. The Hawkeyes would make it close, but they never were able to take the lead from Minnesota again. The league’s best defense at forcing turnovers had won four of their past five heading into Sunday’s game at Indiana — but their run was halted by the Hoosiers in Assembly Hall. Unable to match the Hoosiers’ shooters, the Golden Gophers simply were burned time and time again in a 90-71 loss. Luckily, for Minnesota, not many teams in the Big Ten cause as many match-up problems as the Hoosiers do. (Next up: Feb. 18 vs. Northwestern; Feb. 21 at Wisconsin)

8. Illinois (17-9, 7-6, PPP: 1.00, PPP Allowed: 1.02) (Last week: 8) … The Fighting Illini’s four-game winning streak came to an end on Sunday with a blowout 68-49 loss at Wisconsin — which isn’t all that surprising given the Badgers’ play of late. But even with Rayvonte Rice back in the lineup, the Illini struggled to find looks against Wisconsin — they shot just 40 percent from the field on only 44 shots, with the game’s 49 possessions being the fewest Illinois has played in at least 13 years. Much of that can also be attributed to the Badgers’ 15 offensive rebounds and only four turnovers as Wisconsin dominated possession. All in all, it was a performance Illinois fans won’t want to remember. (Next up: Feb. 22 vs. Michigan State)

7. Iowa (15-10, 6-6, PPP: 1.11, PPP Allowed: 1.12) (Last week: 3) On Monday during his weekly Big Ten coaches teleconference appearance, Hawkeyes coach Fran McCaffery was asked about his team’s inconsistencies. He said they were part opponents outplaying the Hawkeyes. He also faulted his own team’s performances. Just a week earlier, the Hawkeyes beat Michigan soundly on the road and then easily handled Maryland at home. But this past week, they managed to let Minnesota escape from Iowa City with a win and then allowed a winless Northwestern team this calendar year to get its first victory of the year in Evanston. Just a week ago, it appeared the Hawkeyes had stabilized things and were en route to an NCAA tournament bid. Now, that goal seems more and more in limbo. (Next up: Feb. 19 vs. Rutgers; Feb. 22 at Nebraska)

6. Michigan State (17-8, 8-4, PPP: 1.07, PPP Allowed: .96) (Last week: 7) … On cue on Saturday, Valentine’s Day, the Spartans’ Denzel Valentine hit the game-winning 3-pointer against Ohio State in East Lansing. It gave Michigan State their second win in as many outings this past week following their 24-point blowout of Northwestern in Evanston. But in Saturday’s win, the Spartans showed grit — staying on course even after allowing the Buckeyes to come back from a nine-point halftime deficit — to pull out the win. (Next up: Feb. 17 at Michigan; Feb. 22 at Illinois)

5. Indiana (18-8, 8-5, PPP: 1.13, PPP Allowed: 1.13) (Last week: 6) It was a night in which the Hoosiers had their second-worst offensive performance in more than a month (at 1.05 points per possession), but at Maryland on Wednesday, the Hoosiers found themselves with the ball and a chance to win in the final possession. Of course, neither of their two shots went in and the Hoosiers left College Park with a 68-66 loss. But on Sunday against a Minnesota team known for good defense, the Hoosiers scorched the Golden Gophers — “they flat-out kicked our butts,” Richard Pitino said. Indiana’s 1.37 points per possession, in fact, was the most Minnesota allowed in a game since a 90-61 loss to Ohio State on March 14, 2010. That just shows you Indiana’s firepower — at least when the offense is on. (Next up: Feb. 19 vs. Purdue; Feb. 22 at Rutgers)

4. Maryland (21-5, 9-4, PPP: 1.00, PPP Allowed: 1.01) (Last week: 5) Neither of their two wins came easy this past week, but nonetheless the Terrapins found ways to win both against Indiana and at Penn State. Against the Hoosiers, the Terps could never find a knockout blow and against the Nittany Lions they allowed a second-half run to make things close. But in each game they stayed calm under pressure as they usually do — in fact, in games decided by single digits this season, the Terps are 11-1.  (Next up: Feb. 19 vs. Nebraska)

3. Purdue (17-9, 9-4, PPP: 1.04, PPP Allowed: .98) (Last week: 4) … The Boilermakers continue to do what they do best — that is, control the paint. On the road at Rutgers on Thursday, Purdue did not have its best offensive game but instead forced the Scarlet Knights into 14 turnovers and just 30 percent shooting on their 2s. At home against Nebraska on Sunday, meanwhile, the Boilermakers dominated the boards (44-29 advantage, 18-8 offensive rebound advantage) en route to an easy 66-54 win. The offense might not be there every night — but even when that is going wrong, the Boilermakers are strong enough in other areas to still win games. (Next up: Feb. 19 at Indiana)

2. Ohio State (19-7, 8-5, PPP: 1.10, PPP Allowed: .99) (Last week: 2) … They easily took care of Penn State in a 20-point win on Wednesday, but on the road at Michigan State, the Buckeyes faced a significant challenge against a strong Spartans side at home. Yet, even after falling behind by nine at halftime the Buckeyes battled back, even briefly taking a lead with five minutes to go. They would tie the game once more with 38 seconds to go on a Sam Thompson 3-pointer only for Valentine to hit the game-winner with four seconds remaining. But this was a game in which the Buckeyes had their second-worst scoring output all season and worst defensive output in five games. And yet, they still were in it up until the final possession. (Next up: Feb. 22 at Michigan) 

1. Wisconsin (23-2, 11-1, PPP: 1.27, PPP Allowed: 1.03) (Last week: 1)  It comes as no surprise that the Badgers remain No. 1 in the power rankings, especially as they won their seventh and eighth straight games this past week. But perhaps even more impressive about the Badgers is that there has been no dip in performance level. Their Big Ten efficiency margin remains the highest since the 37-2 Illinois squad from 2004-2005, and the adjusted offensive efficiency remains the best has ever tracked. The Badgers have dominated plenty of games this season. And they continue to do so as it nears the home stretch.  (Next up: Feb. 18 at Penn State; Feb. 21 vs. Minnesota)

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  • N71

    Purdue is pretending, things should shakeout for them here in the coming weeks. I’d put Maryland at #2, Indiana #3, OSU at #4. The guard play with these three teams is tremendous.

  • I hate Purdue as much as the next IU fan, but I think they are legit. Certainly not the same team that had those horrendous early season losses. I do agree with you that Purdue will have a bit of a drop off. Their remaining road games are rough. Honestly though, this Purdue squad has surprised me all year, so I wouldn’t be shocked if they somehow finished ahead of us in the standings.

    That doesn’t matter too much to me as long as we make it into the tourney. That is my primary goal for this team and that can be accomplished regardless of Purdue’s success or failure rate against other conference opponents.

  • Ole Man

    Purdue’s D is legit.
    IU’s task is to score enough to offset that D and their points in the middle on Thursday. Not an easy task. But doable.

  • inLinE6

    Off the topic – what are our expectations on TP and JA given that Jordan Fuchs is already ahead of both? Those two dudes are mystery from day one.

  • Bill

    TP-JA to early to tell. But, my thoughts ,

    Crean needed to fill roster. Max, zeisloft, Priller, April, Fuchs , holt. They are all gambles of the best available at the time.

    Seem like leadership – hard working guys. Much needed!!!! But Max, zeisloft, holt, look like great gets , gamble paid big time. The other half- time will tell.

    Crean saw something- I’m learning to trust him.

    BTW- the olidipo – Troy comparisons ain’t socrazy. I see the exact same skills developing Pray we get the third year. Wow.

  • Eastwood88_2

    The defense is a legit problem in college basketball. They foul every possession on the outside. Let’s see if the officials do the right thing Thursday. We shoot 30 free throws

  • You know I was thinking the same thing when he put Fuchs in last night. These guys have been with the team since what last June or July? Then Fuchs comes in and fuchs it up (sorry couldn’t resist, by getting to play right away. Either it’ll be a wake up call for them to start working harder.. Or they’ll be very, very upset at the whole situation. I hope it’s the former. I’d really hate to lose either of them over this. I think the two bigger/taller guys are potentially a lot greater contributors in the future.. just from their size perspective alone. CTC must be extremely impressed with Fuchs to play him after only such a short time at practice.. Will be interesting to see how this plays out.

  • dssnyder1

    oh, to be a fly on the wall. Fuchs getting playing time immediately, while TP and JA sit is hard to grasp. are they both struggling that much? is motivation an issue for each?

  • unclekerfuffle

    Just a thought: Is it plausible that some players who signed late came in with the understanding that it would probably be a one season gig but they would have the benefits of a high profile program to help them end up in a improved situation at another school after this season?

  • inLinE6

    I think that almost has to be the case with TP and JA. If their season finished already months ago, I’d be surprised if they’re still on scholarship next season.

  • KmanCRK

    TP was never thought of as a big man. I know he’s 6-8, but he is anything but a post player. Strength is more important than height on the low block. I hate to negative on kids, but hearing Crean’s comments on AP gives some insight on how a kid with his size and skill set (acording to highlight videos) goes almost completely unrecruited.

    These guys were brought in last minute because we needed to fill roster spots and preferably with size. Hopefully they help in practice…

  • KmanCRK

    I can’t imagine it being any other way. I know our AD and the Big Ten have made comments about 4 yr scholarships, but I’m not sure that has truly been implemented quite yet.

  • KmanCRK

    The only place I think the comparison gets lost is on defense. Troy is not near as dialed in defensively as VO was. He was a terror for opposing guards. But offensively, its crazy how much these guys in yrs 1, 2 and hopefully 3 are mirror images of each other. VO used to turn the ball over trying to do too much his Jr. season as well. But were dubbed “human highlight reels”

    Top half of your post is spot on.

  • ForeverIU

    Maybe O.G. Anunoby is of the same tribe!

  • ForeverIU

    This has to be the dominant paradigm.

  • I just want to split with them, at least.

  • MillaRed

    Beat, the shizzle, out of Purdue. And don’t be nice about it. Send them into a rotten final month spiral so they enjoy the N.I.T. Where they belong.

    I …….hate……..Purdue.

    P.S. – I hate Purdue.

  • TomJameson

    So, tell me Milla … what do you think of Purdue?

  • Lance76

    JF had numerous D-1 basketball offers. UCONN comes to mind. Nothing against CH or HMP, but Jordan brings a slightly different set of skills. I am hoping for a warrior in a Dramond(sp?) Green body.

  • Khoosier3

    Is there any word that is worse than Hate?

  • calbert40

    I think PU is for real, but I think they have also benefited from having a very easy B1G schedule. So far, their road games have been UW, PSU, ILL, NW, Minny, RU. So, they’ve only really played one of the elite B1G teams on the road and one of the good teams (ILL). They lost both times.

    They have three remaining road games: IU, OSU and MSU. They’ve got a tough road ahead of them.

  • calbert40

    Loathe? Abhor? Is there really any word that will fully encapsulate our strong feelings towards that school to the North?

  • calbert40

    By now, while I think teams can improve or get worse, teams are pretty much what their record shows. At the beginning of the year, I thought there were three tiers of teams. Now, I think there are four tiers.

    Tier 1: Wisconsin –
    By themselves. A truly elite team. I hate them.

    Tier 2: IU, MD, MSU, OSU, PU –
    These five teams are just beating up on one another. None of them are good enough to compete with UW, but all should be in the NCAA (PU’s resume is a little soft due to some awful early losses). As luck would have it, IU is the only team within this tier that has to play each of these teams twice this year.

    Tier 3: Iowa, ILL, UM, Minny –
    These teams aren’t as consistent as the tier 2 teams. They can beat any of those teams, especially at home, if they play well, but they can also lose some head-scratchers. Minny lost @ PSU, Iowa lost to Minny at home and on the road to NW, ILL was killed by Nebraska, and UM has just had too many injuries to compete. Still, it would be nice to avoid playing one of them in the quarterfinals of the B1G tourney.

    Tier 4: Nebraska, PSU, NW and RU
    Want to be an NCAA tourney team? You need to beat these teams…even on the road. None of these four teams are “awful,” so a poor performance on the road will cost you an L, but if a team from the other three tiers plays a solid game, they should win even on the road.

  • Kyl470

    I think you have done an accurate job in your tier system.

  • CreamandCrimson

    I pretty much agree with everything you’ve got here and I think you broke it down pretty well. I know a lot of people on this site think Purdue is fraudulent but I think they absolutely belong in Tier 2…they are a very difficult matchup for us and Thursday night’s game is going to require a really good performance from our Hoosiers to get a W. If Purdue can win one of their three remaining road games (no easy task but doable) and take care of business at home, I think they’ll be dancing.

    Breaking opponents into tiers really underscores how difficult our B1G schedule ended up being. You never know how it will shake out before the season but we get each of the Tier 2 teams twice and only one of the Tier 4 teams twice…that’s unfortunate.

  • marcusgresham

    “Kentucky” is worse than “hate.” I know it’s comparing apples to stuttering (it’s not comparing apples to oranges, because they’re both nouns,) but that’s the worst word in the English language.

  • marcusgresham

    What kind of crap would Crean be enduring if he’d have had the unmet expectations Tim Miles has this season?

  • Lance76

    If I was Troy, I would come back for 3rd year working on my handle and outside shot and moving up in draft to larger money. Hope that all other starters do the same and we add one big 7′. If all key components return it will add stability to the program long term and we will be loaded for a run.

  • calbert40

    I think you’re right on Purdue. As much as we would rather ignore it, they are having a solid B1G campaign. Now, I think their schedule has been very favorable, and much easier than ours so far. However, if they can find a way to win one of those last 3 roadies and hold serve at home, that puts them at 12-6 with a top 4 seed most likely…and they’re dancing.

    So far as our schedule is concerned, it is favorable, but just because games are winnable doesn’t mean they will be won. I’d be surprised if we won out, honestly. I think a 4-1 finish is more likely, simply because PU and MSU are tough match-ups for us even at home. A 4-1 finish puts us at 12-6 also, and anyone who complains about that has unrealistic expectations. I figured 10-8 personally.

  • Lance76

    I have no idea of what is going on with Nebraska this year. I expected a lot more. Was last year a fluke with new stadium?

  • dwdkc

    As a Wabash grad under no obligation to hate the Boilers I hope they make it. They are a tough, awkward matchup for anyone now in the tradition of past tough and ugly teams. I predict if they get in they will extend their long first round NCAA winning streak and also extend their almost as long 2nd game losing streak against an elite team.

  • Ronald Barrett

    You cannot spell Suck without UK…..

  • Andy Rafael Aguilera

    Can we stop with this false information that UCONN offered him a basketball scholarship?

    It was FOOTBALL, not basketball.

  • WindyCityHoosier

    Miles is a top 50 coach per ESPN… just a reminder.

  • JerryYeagley23

    I played soccer at IU. This is pretty common and was actually a really honest conversation that the staff had with second tier recruits (I was one of them) prior to bringing them in. It’s an awesome opportunity if you think about it; and if communicated properly is in now way disrespectful to a kid.

  • pcantidote

    Agree. This is a strategy that coaches have employed going back to Pat Riley.

  • unclekerfuffle

    I agree that if everything is explained to the recruit up front questions of ethics and respect are not issues