Big Ten Power Rankings: January 11

  • 01/11/2016 10:05 am in

The Inside the Hall Big Ten Power Rankings are back following the second week of conference play and there are more shakeups in the league’s pecking order. Here’s a look at where each team stands after the second week of Big Ten play (Note: Points per possession numbers in parenthesis are for conference games only):

14. Rutgers (6-11, 0-4, .89 points per possession, 1.21 points per possession allowed) … There’s no other way to put this: Rutgers is the worst major conference team in the country. The Scarlet Knights took two drubbings this past week: a 25-point smackdown at Maryland, which was expected. But Rutgers was even worse on Saturday in a 34-point loss at home to Nebraska. Will Rutgers win one Big Ten game? It’s a valid question.

13. Minnesota (6-10, 0-4, .97 points per possession, 1.19 points per possession allowed) … It was another tough week for the Golden Gophers as they fell to Penn State in State College and then got absolutely pounded at home against Northwestern. Defense is a major problem for Richard Pitino’s team as Minnesota has yet to hold a Big Ten opponent under 1.13 points per possession. With a road game at Nebraska and then Indiana coming to town, things won’t get any easier this week.

12. Penn State (10-7, 1-3, 1.01 points per possession, 1.18 points per possession allowed) … The Nittany Lions split a pair of home games this week as they beat Minnesota and then lost to Michigan State by 27. The schedule is about to get very difficult now for Pat Chambers and company. KenPom projects them to lose their next nine games. This week, they travel to Purdue and Northwestern.

11. Nebraska (9-8, 1-3, 1.13 points per possession, 1.13 points per possession allowed) … There’s nothing like a road trip to Piscataway to help a Big Ten team get a win. After starting league play 0-3, the Cornhuskers went to Rutgers and delivered a 90-56 beatdown on Saturday afternoon. Nebraska has a pair of winnable games this week: Minnesota at Pinnacle Bank Arena followed by a trip to the State Farm Center to face Illinois on Saturday.

10. Illinois (9-8, 1-3, 1 point per possession, 1.08 points per possession allowed) … In the most surprising result in conference play this past week, John Groce and the Illini handed Purdue its second Big Ten loss on Sunday evening in Champaign. The Illini have been decimated by injuries this season, but are projected to win five of their next six by KenPom. Junior Malcolm Hill was terrific in the win over Purdue with 30 points and eight rebounds in 35 minutes.

9. Wisconsin (9-8, 1-3, .98 points per possession, .94 points per possession allowed) … It was a tough week for interim coach Greg Gard as the Badgers narrowly lost to Indiana in Bloomington and staged a late comeback at home against Maryland before Melo Trimble hit a dagger to help the Terps escape Madison with the W. Through 17 games, one thing is very clear: Wisconsin is challenged offensively. The Badgers simply don’t have enough guys who can create their own shot and it’s putting a lot of pressure on Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig to carry a heavy load every game.

8. Northwestern (14-3, 2-2, 1.08 points per possession, 1.02 points per possession allowed) … The Wildcats split a pair this week, losing by nine at home to Ohio State and then crushing Minnesota in Minneapolis. With 14 wins, it seems like a foregone conclusion that Northwestern will reach 20, but the Wildcats really need a signature win or two to get into the NCAA tournament conversation. Sophomore Bryant McIntosh has grown into one of the nation’s elite distributors as his assist rate (40.1) ranks seventh in the country.

7. Ohio State (10-6, 3-1, 1 point per possession, 1 point per possession allowed) … The young Buckeyes had an impressive road win in Evanston on Wednesday, but were pounded from start to finish by Indiana on Sunday in Bloomington. Still, this is a team that has rebounded nicely from a bleak 2-4 start. Ohio State should get back on track this week when it hosts Rutgers, but a trip to Maryland this weekend is another stiff test for a young team in a tough environment.

6. Michigan (12-4, 2-1, 1.13 points per possession, 1.05 points per possession allowed) … Michigan played just once this past week and fell by 17 to Purdue in West Lafayette. The bad news is that the Wolverines continue to be without their best player, Caris LeVert. The good news is that LeVert appears to be close to returning to the lineup. In what is the most challenging pair of games this week for a Big Ten team, Michigan hosts Maryland on Tuesday before traveling to Iowa on Sunday.

5. Purdue (14-3, 2-2, 1.05 points per possession, 1.04 points per possession allowed) … What was the most dominant Big Ten defense in non-conference play has hit a bump in the road early in league play. The Boilermakers beat Michigan easily early last week, but then had a clunker on Sunday in Champaign. The Illini scored 1.20 points per possession on Purdue, which was by far their worst defensive effort of the season. The Illini shot 17 of 31 on 2s in the upset and had no problem with Purdue’s size advantage in the paint.

4. Indiana (14-3, 4-0, 1.08 points per possession, .93 points per possession allowed) … After surviving a tight contest against Wisconsin on Tuesday with a one-point win, Indiana played its best game of the season on Sunday against Ohio State. The Hoosiers overpowered the Buckeyes on both ends of the floor. Through four games, Indiana has the second best defense in the conference. Some of that is the schedule the Hoosiers have faced and some of it is improvement. The Hoosiers are off until Saturday when they travel to Minnesota.

3. Michigan State (16-1, 3-1, 1.15 points per possession, .97 points per possession allowed) … Denzel Valentine is back, which means it might not be long before the Spartans claim the top spot in the power rankings. Michigan State hammered both Illinois and Penn State this week and now will look to avenge its loss to Iowa. The Hawkeyes travel to East Lansing on Thursday for what should be one of the best games in the country this week.

2. Iowa (12-3, 3-0, 1.15 points per possession, .99 points per possession allowed) … The Hawkeyes played just once this week and it was a solid 11-point win over Nebraska in Iowa City. Jarrod Uthoff remains one of the best players in the country that nobody is talking about. The senior is hitting 45.5 percent of his 3s and ranks in the top 15 nationally in block percentage. In his last two games, Uthoff has 50 points.

1. Maryland (15-1, 4-0, 1.10 points per possession, .92 points per possession allowed) … On paper, Maryland is probably the most talented team in the Big Ten. And it appears the Terrapins are beginning to hit their stride. Over the past season and a half, Maryland is one of the best teams in the country at winning close games and that clutch factor showed itself again on Saturday as Melo Trimble hit a game-winner to beat Wisconsin in Madison. With freshman stud Diamond Stone roaming the paint and Trimble manning the point, Maryland has one of the best one-two punches in the country.

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  • vicbert caladipo

    LOL I already stole it an hour before you LOL

  • Koko

    RMK gave TC a call.

  • Young Hoosier

    They can probably pull in a good coach with the talent they’re able to pull in all the time.

  • Jeremy

    I must not be normal as I actually root for Purdue unless they are playing Indiana. I root for all Indiana teams but hate kentucky.

  • ForeverIU

    You can at least pretend to hate them, like most of us do. Just for the fun.

  • Shaggy_C

    To think, it wasn’t that long ago that high profile recruits would blow off an Indiana offer to go to Las Vegas instead. How things have changed.

  • BL

    We were not the best team in the country. Syracuse had better talent, especially in the backcourt. Carter-Williams 6’6 (2014 NBA rookie of the year) and Brandon Triche 6’4 (playing professionally in Europe) vs. YF (6’0 and a freshman) and Hulls (6’0 and injured). Big mismatch. Front courts were essentially a wash. However, Syracuse had tremendous interior athleticism and defense with Fair, Southerland and Christmas. The perfect back end when combined with big guards that could defend the 3-point line. Unfortunately, a really bad match-up for IU. No way I hang that loss on Crean.

  • Guyton25

    That’s exactly right. It’s really sad how a lot of people hate their conference teams and rivals. I think it just comes with being a respectful, storied program where you just love basketball and respect anyone who can play at a high level consistently without cheating (see: Calipari). When Purdue killed us last year I initially said every name in the book but shortly afterward realized the BIG has a new front-court the country should be terrified about.

  • Guyton25

    I thought it was a huge going from practically no votes in the AP to 59 and being ranked 25th in the coaches poll. We have to beat a ranked opponent before they put us back in the top. Unless we win these next 7, lol.

  • Outoftheloop

    Power Rankings are close to meaningless. There are real rankings, the W/L Standings. If you never lose, you never worry!

  • CreamandCrimson

    “How did we fix those things so quickly?” I think it’s definitely fair and accurate to say that we have improved on defense. Is the issue totally fixed? There’s no way to know but I feel much better about the D than I did two weeks ago, that’s for sure. As for turnovers, I’m not sure how anyone can feel like the turnovers are “fixed”. We only turned it over 12 times against Ohio State but the turnover percentage was more than 30% against Wisconsin and it was bad pretty much every game prior to that as well. While I’m hopeful that the progress we saw on Sunday against the Buckeyes (in terms of taking care of the ball) will turn into a trend and become a staple, in my opinion, we are not close to being able to call that issue “fixed”.

  • If you re-listen to it.. He said, he didn’t know if they watched too much video or not enough video.. He said they had good practices and he thought they were ready.. He also said something to the effect, that he needed to think it over, but that he was at a loss for why they played the way they did. Probably the worst half of basketball he’d ever been a part of.. Referred to it as ‘your worst nightmare’… That interview, if you look at it.. If Crean had an interview like that after such an embarrassment, with no more answers, people would want him ‘tarred and feathered’…lol. I like Matta, I guess as well as you can like an opposing coach, but boy he was really dumbfounded as to what happened.

  • ‘Temperance’, does that mean we shouldn’t drink so much of the Kool-Aid until later?…lol..

  • sarge

    That is an interesting thought. I would still prefer we had JBJ in the rotation, whether or not he can stretch the defense more. It will be interesting to see how it plays out, but I agree with you forever that IU needs to do what is best as JBJ will do what is best for himself. I would like nothing else for him to stay in Bloomington though.

  • sarge

    I root for them too. I root for them to lose, them and Kentucky. I will say this, when Indiana is out of the tournament I usually start rooting for the other Indiana schools, even Purdue. Did I just say that? I feel sick, excuse me please.

  • SeeingRed

    I wonder if there is any other school in the country that has a designated “X School Sucks” song/cheer aimed at their state rival that they use in EVERY home football and basketball game. Maybe there is, but it’s so pathetic. Why any fan base would want to proudly display that the school they hate is firmly occupying their brain space — even for 30 seconds — is beyond me.

    And it’s funny, because even some of the grownups seem to revel in it … 🙂

  • millzy32

    Also think it wasn’t that long ago that UNLV beat us.

  • millzy32

    Weren’t we 5-0 in conference last season. Heck we aren’t even there yet:) Sunday looked really good but it needs to continue for a while to make us all believers. We’ve all been snake bit enough times to still be very skeptical.

  • IULore

    Overrated? Did you see that Vonleh team?

  • Ole Man

    LOL! You “caught” the unspoken reference.

  • CreamandCrimson

    We began the conference season at 1-1 (with a 20-point beatdown at Michigan State in the second game of the B1G season) so no, we weren’t 5-0 last season. This is actually the first time we’ve begun the B1G season 4-0 under Tom Crean.

    I’m definitely going to be cautious with my optimism because I know the wheels could come off very quickly but we haven’t been in this exact position before under Tom Crean.

  • Young Hoosier

    I’m sure they’re still going to go to UNLV. Depending on who they hire.

  • millzy32

    So then we were 5-1 right? I know I can go back and look but what’s the fun in that? Anyway, 4-0 or 5-1 not much difference both are great starts. Last year it fell apart by season’s end. We seem to have back loaded schedules in back to back years meaning tougher teams last. If we finish strong this could be a good season. Verdict still out.

  • millzy32

    Drink the Kool-Aid any old time you want. If we start losing a lot though you’ll have to add something to the Kool-Aid to make it worth drinking:)

  • CreamandCrimson

    Yeah, something like 5 or 6 and 1 culminating in the three-point barrage against Maryland before things began to crumble. “Verdict still out” is 100% accurate. I’m very, very cautiously optimistic moving forward because there appears to some desire and understanding on defense and I’m pleased with what has occurred so far.

  • ForeverIU

    Don’t want to get into an argument here, but my basic (and perhaps too simplistic) point is that we lost with Vonleh not because we couldn’t stretch defenses, but because we couldn’t shoot.

  • ForeverIU

    I agree. I like the kid a lot, his work ethic, demeanor, temperament, etc. I hate his defense, and I think our motto should be: No Defense, No Play.

  • Exactly. In all honesty, I couldn’t care less about them. Except I really hate that “Boiler up!” saying.

  • ForeverIU

    I spent a few semesters at Purdue, and it’s a great school with a very international and diverse student body (I was in computer engineering at the time, before I got depressed, dropped out, and went into literature and the arts). But their basketball is just plain boring. I rooted for IU even when I was at Purdue. I did attend a few football games though. I had a few friends who would pour Scotch into their Cokes before games (Of course I never partook in such improprieties).

  • b_side

    Can’t think of a school, but the closest comparison would be the Red Sox doing a Yankees Suck cheer regardless of the opponent.

  • b_side

    Neither had Bo Ryan until two years ago. Now we think of him as one of the best coaches in the B1G over the last 15 years.

    Sean Miller is still without a Final Four appearance.

    At least Crean’s been there once prior to his IU days.

  • I’ve been there done that…lol.. I so hope this caliber of play can continue through the rest of the year.. I do feel it looks better than even when we had good games last two years.. This just seems like it’s , well, more hustle on defense and the offense almost seems to feed off of the defense. Didn’t feel that good last year… Wouldn’t you just love to see them play like that the rest of the way?

  • twarrior87

    Not the best team in the country? IU was ranked #1 for most of the season and was a 1 seed in the tourney. Yes, SU had more length and was a bad match up, but IU was the better team. The team had no game plan for the zone defense and no in game adjustments appeared to be made to solve it either. IU was the favorite in that game by all the experts. If SU had the better team why were the experts picking IU to win?

  • millzy32

    The only thing I can explain is that in the beginning of the season they all believed the hype and thought that they could just go out and be the next Golden State or something. Then reality set in and they realized they have to work extremely hard to get success and that if they don’t shape up they’re going to get their coach fired and they all are rallying around the coach. Something changed in the second half of that Notre Dame game. That’s when a light bulb turned on or something. From then on this has been a more engaged team that hustles and actually tries on defense. Just when I think I have this team figured out I have to burn my notes and start again. I’m scared if I start buying in and believing that they’ll just take a turn for the worst again. Maybe this is the time that they finally get it. What is it? No idea, but it seems to be working. The three freshman seem to really care about winning. This is very nice to see. Bryant goes crazy if we’re losing. Also nice to see. I’m stumped overall but I like what’s happening. Now they need to keep it up during the tough half of league play.

  • millzy32

    Everyone wants to be Steph Curry and Golden State raining down the long J’s. What they don’t realize is that Golden State has a great defense too and that’s why they won last season.

  • BL

    Same “experts” that picked IU preseason top 15 this year and the Colts to win the Super Bowl.

    Typically, as fans that watch every IU game, we know more about our team than the national media. Personally, I had watched a Louisville vs Syracuse battle that season and knew going into the game we would struggle with the Syracuse back court.

  • Did you see that Maryland lost last night at Michigan? Wow, the Wolverines are apparently getting it together. We play up there in a couple of weeks. Thing is, there’s good coaching in the B1G so regardless… by the end of the year most teams, even though having a weaker team, will be a ‘tough out’ by year’s end.

  • Koko

    Of course not….milk and cookies for you right?

  • Koko

    And I bet it won’t happen when we go to OSU.
    I gotta think we will have our hands full on their court.

  • Koko

    I took a lot of vitamin C. It seemed to help but I still have an occasional Crean cough.

  • ForeverIU

    Tea and cookies, the English way!

  • twarrior87

    Probably different experts picking NFL vs NCAA Basketball… anyway, it’s apples to oranges because i’m not talking preseason. I’m talking about going into that game IU was the favorite based on their body of work that season. IU had two top five NBA picks on the floor. They were considered the better team before that game.

    I understand it was a bad match up and their back back court had a lot of length, but that wasn’t the argument. IU was considered the favorite to win that game and was also considered the best team in the country.

    They were without a solid game plan, made no adjustments to combat the zone D, and were overall out coached.

  • BL

    OK. We’ll agree to disagree. Hope IU fares better in the tournament this year.

  • IUMIKE1

    IMHO, he could, and should at times, play the 3 on this team.

  • IUMIKE1

    I’m with Vic Cala & Ole Man, telling you right up front and right now, gonna steal that last line, and yes, upvoting that just isn’t enough. Best one I’ve heard in a good while, one upvote and a thousand www points. lol

  • IUMIKE1

    Yep, some might want to roll the tape of last year’s conference start and then think back to what the conference wins an losses ended up looking like at the end……and then there’s the little thing about looking at who we have played so far. A win is a win, especially on the road, but those two things should factored in when analyzing results from our conference performance so far.

  • twarrior87

    fair enough. there is something we agree on :), go Hoosiers.

  • Ole Man

    Actually, last year’s end-of-schedule was supposed to favor IU. I remember all the talk about a possible sweep.