Big Ten Power Rankings: January 4

  • 01/04/2016 9:17 am in

The Inside the Hall Big Ten Power Rankings are back following the opening week of conference play with a new team at the top. Here’s a look at where each team stands after two Big Ten games (Note: Points per possession numbers in parenthesis are for conference games only):

14. Rutgers (6-9, 0-2, .91 points per possession, 1.12 points per possession allowed) … There’s really not much to say about the Scarlet Knights. They are dreadful to watch and after opening up with losses to Indiana and Wisconsin, I’ll be impressed if Rutgers can manage to win one conference game this season.

13. Minnesota (6-8, 0-2, .96 PPP, 1.14 PPP allowed) … Minnesota made things interesting against Michigan State, but the Golden Gophers lack a true game changer, and will continue to have a tough time in conference play. Minnesota struggles mightily on defense, but the schedule gets easier as Penn State, Northwestern and Nebraska are its next three opponents.

12. Penn State (9-6, 0-2, .94 PPP, 1.17 PPP allowed) … Penn State had a shot to beat Maryland in its conference opener as the Nittany Lions had a double-digit lead down the stretch that the Terrapins quickly erased. Penn State followed that up by getting clobbered at Michigan, which was playing without Caris LeVert. With no good wins and multiple bad losses (Radford, Duquesne), it’ll be tough for Penn State to have much of a chance to break into the postseason conversation.

11. Nebraska (8-7, 0-2, 1.08 PPP, 1.23 PPP allowed) … There’s not much, if any, separation between Nebraska and Penn State. The Cornhuskers have been brutal this season and lost their first two conference home games to Northwestern and Indiana after leading both games in the second half. Someone else besides Andrew White (17.3 ppg) and Shavon Shields (15.4 ppg) needs to step up for Nebraska to be competitive in Big Ten play, or else it could soon join Rutgers at the bottom of these rankings.

10. Illinois (8-7, 0-2, 1.00 PPP, 1.09 PPP allowed) ... Illinois closed out non-conference play with a nice road win against Missouri, but failed to get any momentum by losing at home to Michigan and then narrowly at Ohio State. Illinois will continue to be a pesky out, but it doesn’t look like it can be a contender due to injuries.

9. Wisconsin (9-6, 1-1, 1.03 PPP, .92 PPP allowed) … The Badgers have already lost four games at the Kohl Center after losing five key players from last year’s national runner-up team. Interim coach Greg Gard earned his first Big Ten win on Saturday over Rutgers, but the Badgers will be challenged this week as they travel to Bloomington and then host Maryland.

8. Ohio State (10-5, 2-0, 1.10 PPP, .98 PPP allowed) … Marc Loving has been the guy for the Buckeyes so far in conference play, averaging 23.5 points in his team’s two wins. Ohio State started incredibly slow, but has now won six in a row and will face Northwestern and Indiana this week on the road, which should give us a better idea of where the Buckeyes really stand. OSU is young, but will continue to get stronger as the season goes on.

7. Northwestern (13-2, 1-1, 1.10 PPP, 1.12 PPP allowed) … Northwestern came back to pick up a win at Nebraska which was huge for this team trying to establish itself as a team worthy of a NCAA tournament bid. The Wildcats then got crushed at home against Maryland. Alex Olah being out hurts, but there are other capable players to pick up his scoring. Northwestern has two opportunities for wins this week with Ohio State coming to Evanston and a road trip to Minneapolis to face Minnesota.

6. Indiana (12-3, 2-0, 1.09 PPP, .97 PPP allowed) … Fans will complain about the wins not being clean enough, but the bottom line is that the Hoosiers picked up two important road wins to start off the Big Ten season. Turnovers continue to be a problem, and James Blackmon Jr. being injured won’t help once IU has to play the big boys, but wins are wins. The offense is still extremely high powered, and the schedule sets up very nicely for Indiana with Wisconsin and Ohio State coming to Bloomington this week.

5. Michigan (12-3, 2-0, 1.17 PPP, .92 PPP allowed) … Michigan and Indiana are in very similar spots right now. Both are without an important player (Caris LeVert is out for the Wolverines) yet are still finding ways to win. Winners of six straight, Michigan looked impressive in wins over Illinois and Penn State. There are a lot of questions on the inside about whether Ricky Doyle and Mark Donnal can hold their own in conference play. We’ll begin to get the answer to that question this week as Michigan travels to Purdue and then hosts Maryland.

4. Purdue (13-2, 1-1, .96 PPP, .97 PPP allowed) … For most of the season, Purdue has been one of the best teams in the country, especially on the defensive end. There aren’t many teams that can match the Boilermakers inside. You have to take care of your home court though, and Purdue was unable to do that against Iowa on the night it honored Rick Mount.

3. Michigan State (13-1, 1-1, 1.06 PPP, 1.09 PPP allowed) … Had the Spartans not lost Denzel Valentine to injury, it’s possible they would still be undefeated and No. 1 in the country and in these rankings. However, without Valentine MSU is simply not the same team and doesn’t have anyone else who can fill his shoes. We will continue to see what the Spartans are made of without Valentine this week when they take on Illinois and Penn State, two very winnable games.

2. Maryland (13-1, 2-0, 1.07 PPP, .93 PPP allowed) … While Maryland hasn’t looked quite as impressive as its top five ranking would indicate, the Terrapins have done what they needed to do to get wins. Maryland will play Rutgers and Wisconsin this week and continue to stay in the top two of these rankings. Melo Trimble and Diamond Stone are as tough a one-two combo as any in the conference.

1. Iowa (11-3, 2-0, 1.12 PPP, .97 PPP allowed) … The Hawkeyes take the top spot this week after beating both Michigan State and Purdue. Iowa’s been well balanced on offense and defense, and are led by senior Jarrod Uthoff who’s averaging 18.1 points and six rebounds a game. The Hawkeyes may own this spot for a while, too, as their lone game this week is at home against Nebraska.

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  • Young Hoosier

    Iowa got two massive wins. Although MSU didn’t have Denzel Valentine so that definitely puts a hamper on that one.

  • showjo

    This looks pretty accurate. Surprised to see our defensive ppr is the same as Purdue’s in conference play. I’m not entirely sold on Michigan being a very good team even with lavert. Iowa is scary, and I think they completely exposed a formula on putting a stop to Purdue, similar to Ohio state exposing us last year.

    I’m very excited about the potential of OG and juwan. They seem to understand what’s expected of them and have a knack for the ball on defense. Thomas Bryant looked absolutely unstoppable for the first time this season which should give him some confidence moving forward.

    I hope we can continue to run the zone. It seems like we create more turnovers and transition opportunities while we’re in it. Also, Crean should bench Troy every time he makes a one-handed pass. In the first two B10 games, he’s been more of a liability than an asset.

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    very good poll!! i say more minutes for O.G.!!!!

  • Breakfast at Bruce’s

    I think Iowa will evolve as our biggest nemesis in the B1G. I’m glad we beat them to O.G.! Give credit to Crean and McCaffery for seeing the potential in this kid.

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    lots of winnable games for us between now and feb 11 when we play iowa. but i’ll say this, i ain’t getting the hopes up until they show significant defensive improvement for an entire 40 minutes. it doesn’t matter how high powered they are on offense. coincidentally, anybody else notice how much more smoothly their offense runs when they actually do play decent defense? and how rusheddisorganized it looks when they allow layup after layup? am i imagining this?

  • CreamandCrimson

    I think this is as accurate and valid as anyone else’s list two games in…a couple of observations that I have after watching quite a bit of B1G basketball:
    1. Purdue has a bit of an issue on offense. They are still a very good team and a very problematic matchup for a whole bunch of teams (including us). I still anticipate them being among the Top 4 in the conference but they lack an offensive identity and their guards are going to be their downfall. The Boilers have some very good players but I was incredibly unimpressed by the offensive gameplan (or lack thereof) and lack of adjustments against Iowa and Butler.
    2. Maryland was very good at Northwestern. They have the ability to pull away from opponents with a lightning-quick 10-0 run. Jake Layman continues to underwhelm but the Terps are (obviously) a handful.
    3. I was unimpressed with Fran McCaffery for the first couple of years of his tenure at Iowa. I thought his team’s lacked spine and didn’t have any kind of “plan B” when things weren’t clicking for them. However, I think he has gradually improved that program and they’ve looked pretty good in moving on without Aaron White. Uthoff is a very good and versatile/creative shot-maker and scorer and they have a lot of good players that know their role. It’s incredibly surprising to me that Notre Dame was able to knock them off.
    4. Illinois has a ton of injuries but they are still capable of beating a good team if the opponent doesn’t come to play. Fair or not, John Groce is going to be fired before his team gets healthy.

  • Ole Man

    I think IU should live by Pogo’s thought “I has seen the enemy and it is us.”
    If they deal with that nemesis, they could be good.

  • Koko

    I think the win at Purdue neutralizes the “hamper” on the MSU win.
    Did even watch the Iowa/MSU game? Iowa beat them at every aspect of the game…see Izzo’s comments on that game….I doubt Valentine would have made that game a win for MSU.

  • TomJameson

    I agree. I think their #1 priority (enemy) is their turnover issue. A very close second is the defense. After that I’d say their internal devil needing vanquishing, is playing like a team and not like just 5 guys playing basketball.

  • Young Hoosier

    MSU lost by 13. Valentine averages 18.5 points and 7 assist… that’s big. They lost 32+ points with Valentine being out. It makes a big difference. He’s that good.

  • BL

    All winnable but no cup cakes. Wisconsin will be our first real test in the BIG. Experienced guards with size, Hayes, and some young players turning the corner.

    When OG or JM is on floor with CH and TB (or Max), our D is better, we rebound better, and offense is better due to fewer turnovers.

  • Lance76

    I often wonder how much someone like Valentine being out effects the mental balance and scoring of the rest of the team. For the Hoosiers what does it mean going forward for JBJr being out.

  • Young Hoosier

    It’s gotta be huge. At least with someone like Valentine being out. With JBJ being out it changes in odd ways. Troy and RJ have played absolutely awful without JBJ playing. He will often times draw the better defender on the other team. His scoring alone is huge for Indiana. Where as Valentine does everything. Literally everything.

  • Breakfast at Bruce’s

    But isn’t that the/a meaning of “nemesis”? Or should I have said “Nemesis”?

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    yes, they’re just not capable of pulling away. not with their slow starts, turnovers, and porous defense.

  • dwdkc

    Right, that might have something to do with Troy or more likely RJ. On the other hand our D has looked stronger without him, also not surprising. It’s a mixed bag. He really needs to step up his defense, and I’m surprised and disappointed it has been as bad as it has because of what he was told by pro scouts. He certainly has had every motivation to show better on that end.

  • yimyames

    You can’t just take his average and add it to the total score. He would have used game time to do that which would have been taking away from others scoring or getting assists. Some of his production is replaced by other players, impossible to know how much. I agree he’s a difference maker, but your reasoning is off a little, imo.

  • RDD#76

    I totally agree if you watch one of the press conferences they asked JM what he saw on bench that made him be productive and he said he watched game a saw mistakes that he would adjust to and not make them when he went in and Troy kind of rolled his eyes but I thought it was a pretty smart assement. When Troy lets game come to him he is very good but when he puts head down and drives 1 on 4 it’s turnover city if team could cut turnovers to 10 they will be hard to beat

  • SCHoosier

    Valentine is the spoon that stirs the Spartan soup. A leader..shooter, defender..board guy. Narin, Harris & Forbes are good players. DV on the court makes them all better! By the way this 6-10 Davonte Davis kid is a comer..great length on D..and can play. Seems a little soft right now..but Izzo will have a dude by seasons end.

  • Young Hoosier

    Whenever someone who is responsible for 30, 40 or even 50 punts a game and he’s not playing… well anyone can figure that out.

  • TomJameson

    Unless there’s been some editing ….
    You both seem to use the term “nemesis” correctly. Breakfast is saying IUs biggest nemesis (in terms of another team) could be Iowa. I think that could be true, but I’d maybe toss in a couple of other teams in there as well.

    OleMan is saying the biggest overall nemesis for IU is themselves. I certainly agree with that … totally.

    If I got either of you wrong I’m sorry. I just think you are both right. LOL

  • Young Hoosier

    Davis is good. They have a good group of bigs with him plus Costello and Schilling. MSU is good for a reason. Well balanced rotate with a great coach..