The Inside the Hall Big Ten Power Rankings are back following the fourth 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 fourth week of Big Ten play (Note: Points per possession numbers in parenthesis are for conference games only):
14. Rutgers (6-14, 0-7, .90 points per possession, 1.27 points per possession allowed) … There’s nothing to say. Rutgers is awful. And the critics in Piscataway are growing louder.
13. Minnesota (6-14, 0-8, .94 points per possession, 1.13 points per possession allowed) … While they haven’t won a game in the Big Ten yet, at least Minnesota has been slightly competitive. Its last three losses came by three possessions or less. Things don’t get easier, as the Gophers get Purdue and Indiana to close out January.
12. Illinois (10-10, 2-5, .99 points per possession, 1.12 points per possession allowed) … Illinois followed up a disaster at Indiana by winning in overtime at Minnesota. Any win on the road for this team is a plus. An easier path awaits, as it gets Ohio State, Wisconsin and Rutgers in its next three games.
11. Penn State (11-9, 2-5, .99 points per possession, 1.12 points per possession allowed) … After a loss at home against Wisconsin, Penn State is now simply building for the future. A visit to Ohio State and a date with Michigan at Madison Square Garden awaits the Nittany Lions this week.
10. Northwestern (15-6, 3-5, 1.01 points per possession, 1.06 points per possession allowed) … Northwestern had a shot to knock off Maryland in overtime but couldn’t pull through, then it got blown out in Bloomington. The Wildcats have a fairly young team and will continue to get better, but if this team is going to the postseason, it’ll likely be to the NIT. A win against Michigan State or Iowa this week would be a huge boost to their resume.
9. Ohio State (12-8, 4-3, 1.02 points per possession, 1.06 points per possession allowed) … I’ve seen nothing out of the Buckeyes that shows they deserve a higher spot in the rankings than this. Their four wins have come against the teams ranked below them, and they’ve lost big in their three losses. Ohio State must win both of its next two games against Penn State and Illinois to keep any NCAA tournament hopes alive.
8. Nebraska (12-9, 4-4, 1.14 points per possession, 1.09 points per possession allowed) … Nebraska got a big win against Michigan State, but then again, who hasn’t lately. The Cornhuskers have improved of late, and have the chance to add another big win to its resume when they play Purdue at the end of the week.
7. Wisconsin (11-9, 3-4, 1.04 points per possession, 1.01 points per possession allowed) … The Badgers also got a nice win over the Spartans, and followed it up with a win against Penn State. This team has stayed close in every conference game, and seems to be jelling more as time goes on. Wisconsin will provide a tough test for Indiana on Tuesday in Madison.
6. Purdue (17-4, 5-3, 1.13 points per possession, 1 point per possession allowed) … The Boilermakers fell flat on their second opportunity to knock off Iowa, and the game wasn’t as close as the final score indicated. Purdue is steady, but will need to improve its offense against teams not named Rutgers if it wants to claim a top two or three Big Ten finish. Games against Minnesota and Nebraska should provide a lift this week.
5. Michigan (15-5, 5-2, 1.13 points per possession, 1.08 points per possession allowed) … The Wolverines have been without their best player in Caris LeVert, yet keep winning. Michigan took care of business this past week, and has two cake-walks this week when it plays Rutgers and Penn State this week. With wins, it would be 7-2 when Indiana travels to Ann Arbor for its first major conference test.
4. Michigan State (17-4, 4-4, 1.11 points per possession, 1.04 points per possession allowed) … I know, I know, Michigan State beat Maryland this week. But, the Spartans also lost their two prior games to Wisconsin and Nebraska and that puts them in the four spot. MSU should rebound this week against Northwestern and Rutgers but with the sloppy play lately, you never know. I’m not worried though, Tom Izzo will have his team prepared come March.
3. Maryland (17-3, 6-2, 1.09 points per possession, .96 points per possession allowed) … Maryland has looked asleep for a good portion of the conference slate. It just doesn’t have wins that stand out, and pair that with two conference losses, third place is theirs for now. On paper, this team is the most talented in the conference, but Maryland just isn’t showing it yet. Its chance to assert itself comes Thursday, when Iowa visits the Terrapins.
2. Indiana (17-3, 7-0, 1.16 points per possession, .93 points per possession allowed) … The Hoosiers haven’t beaten any ranked teams, but they’ve sent every team they’ve faced in conference play home with a loss. IU isn’t just beating teams at Assembly Hall, it is destroying teams. Ohio State, Illinois and Northwestern didn’t stand a chance. So while you can easily make the argument that teams like Michigan State or Maryland are more talented, I’m not going to punish the Hoosiers for their Big Ten schedule. Yogi Ferrell is playing outstanding basketball, and I really don’t know if there’s a team that can beat IU at home. Wisconsin on the road will be a test, but Indiana has the better team.
1. Iowa (16-3, 7-0, 1.17 points per possession, 1 point per possession allowed) … No team has a resume anything close to Iowa’s. The Hawkeyes have swept both Purdue and Michigan State, and can pick up a win against Maryland on Thursday in the lone meeting between the two teams. Jared Uthoff is playing out of his mind and is the leading candidate for Big Ten player of the year. Iowa visits Indiana on February 11.
Filed to: Big Ten Power Rankings