Big Ten Power Rankings: March 8

  • 03/08/2017 8:01 am in

The Big Ten regular season has come and gone. 126 conference games were played, with Purdue being the last team standing when March came around, capturing their 23rd Big Ten regular season title. It was a wild ride full of upsets, buzzer-beaters and the most parity the conference has seen in a long time.

Now, it’s tournament time. 13 games over the next five days in Washington D.C. to determine who will punch an automatic ticket to the NCAA Tournament.

Before we get started, let’s take a look at the season that was by the numbers.

35 – most points scored by a player in a Big Ten game (Peter Jok vs. Indiana)

23 – most free throws attempted by a player in a Big Ten game (Peter Jok vs. Indiana), seven more than any other player.

22 – most rebounds in a Big Ten game (Caleb Swanigan vs. Minn & Derek Pardon vs. Neb)

16 – most assists in a Big Ten game (Derrick Walton Jr. vs. Nebraska)

11 – most blocks in a Big Ten game (Reggie Lynch vs. Penn State, also a Minnesota record)

7 – most steals in a Big Ten game (OG Anunoby vs. Rutgers)

12.6 – Caleb Swanigan’s rebounding average per game in Big Ten play. Swanigan was the only player in the conference to average over 10 boards per game.

+8.1 – Purdue’s scoring margin in Big Ten play, nearly three points better than any other team (Michigan came in second at +5.4)

2 – the number of buzzer beaters during the conference season (Blackmon Jr. vs. Penn State, Pardon vs. Michigan)

26.2 – the percentage of games decided by four points or fewer or in OT, the sixth highest percentage of any conference in Division I (per KenPom)

Here’s a look at where each team stands after the regular season:

14. Rutgers (14-17, 3-15; 0.89 points per possession, 1.05 points per possession allowed; KenPom – 131, Sagarin – 121, RPI – 167) (Last Week: 14)

Rutgers ended their regular season with a win over the Fighting Illini, but will still enter the Big Ten Tournament with the No. 14 seed for the third consecutive year since joining the league.

13. Nebraska (12-18, 6-12; 1.00 PPP, 1.09 PPP allowed; KenPom – 104, Sagarin – 96, RPI – 94) (Last Week: 13)

Tai Webster, the lone senior on the Cornhusker roster, had a rough senior night on Sunday, scoring just eight points. As bad as it was for Webster, it was even worse for his squad. The Huskers head into the postseason on a four-game losing streak, with each loss coming by 15 or more points.

12. Penn State (14-17, 6-12; 0.97 PPP, 1.03 PPP allowed; KenPom – 82, Sagarin – 79, RPI – 97) (Last Week: 12)

The Nittany Lions have lost four straight, the latest an 11-point defeat in Iowa City. They’ll face Nebraska in the opening round Wednesday, where inevitably, one of the two coldest teams in the Big Ten will pick up a win.

11. Ohio State (17-14, 7-11; 1.05 PPP, 1.09 PPP allowed; KenPom – 70, Sagarin – 60, RPI – 78) (Last Week: 10)

In a conference that had a penchant for close games this year, Ohio State found themselves in a battle in nearly every contest. Only two of the Buckeyes’ conference games were decided by more than 10 points.

10. Indiana (17-14, 7-11; 1.08 PPP, 1.11 PPP allowed; KenPom – 46, Sagarin – 31, RPI – 80) (Last Week: 11)

The Hoosiers avoided a first-round game in the Big Ten Tournament by holding off Ohio State on Saturday and getting some help from Nebraska. Now comes the tough part, as the Hoosiers will almost certainly need to win four games in four days if they want to make the NCAA Tournament.

9. Illinois (18-13, 8-10; 1.00 PPP, 1.04 PPP allowed; KenPom – 68, Sagarin – 67, RPI – 59) (Last Week: 9)

A four-game Illini winning streak came to a halt on Saturday at the hands of Rutgers. All the talk of Illinois sneaking into the big dance may have been a bit premature.

8. Northwestern (21-10, 10-8; 1.03 PPP, 1.01 PPP allowed) (KenPom – 36, Sagarin – 37, RPI – 52) (Last Week: 7)

Northwestern punched a ticket to their first NCAA Tournament in dramatic fashion, as Derek Pardon hit a layup at the buzzer off a full-court inbounds pass from Nate Taphorn to beat Michigan in Evanston. But the fact remains that the Wildcats have lost six of their last nine, and are going to be hard-pressed to make the second weekend of March Madness.

7. Michigan State (18-13, 10-8; 1.05 PPP, 1.02 PPP allowed; KenPom – 50, Sagarin – 40, RPI – 47) (Last Week: 5)

Michigan State dropped their final two games, both on the road, by a combined six points. A tough pill for Izzo’s crew to swallow, but one that may make them all the more dangerous now that it’s tournament time.

6. Iowa (18-13, 10-8; 1.05 PPP, 1.06 PPP allowed; KenPom – 67, Sagarin – 62, RPI – 70) (Last Week: 8)

What got into the Hawkeyes? Iowa is suddenly the hottest team in the Big Ten after winning four straight, including road matchups with Wisconsin and Maryland. Senior Peter Jok continued dominating defenses and accumulating accolades, as he was named to the first team All-Big Ten. Jok reached double figures scoring in all but two games and was the only player in the conference to finish the season with a scoring average of more than 20.

5. Michigan (20-11, 10-8; 1.16 PPP, 1.07 PPP allowed; KenPom – 25, Sagarin – 27, RPI – 46) (Last Week: 4)

After losing in Evanston, the Wolverines put up 1.43 PPP on lowly Nebraska last Sunday, shooting 74 percent from inside the arc and 52 percent behind it. Derrick Walton Jr., who was snubbed from the first team All-Big Ten, dished an astounding 16 assists to go along with 18 points of his own.

4. Maryland (24-7, 12-6; 1.09 PPP, 1.03 PPP allowed; KenPom – 38, Sagarin – 38, RPI – 25) (Last Week: 6)

Going into the final week having lost three in a row, the Terrapins managed to right the ship, picking up wins in their last two regular season contests. Most importantly, Maryland secured a No. 3 seed and a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament, so they’ll have the chance to rest before they play Friday.

3. Minnesota (23-8, 11-7; 1.03 PPP, 1.00 PPP allowed; KenPom – 33, Sagarin – 32, RPI – 20) (Last Week: 3)

The regular season may have ended with a beatdown by the Badgers, but that doesn’t diminish the Golden Gophers incredible turnaround this season. Minnesota improved from an 8-23 record in 2015-16 to 23-8 in 2016-17, earning Richard Pitino Big Ten coach of the year honors.

2. Wisconsin (23-8, 12-6; 1.05 PPP, 0.97 PPP allowed; KenPom – 22, Sagarin – 21, RPI– 36) (Last Week: 2)

Wisconsin ended the regular season in a familiar position, with a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament and an NCAA berth locked up. The Badgers still aren’t firing on all cylinders, but in a mediocre Big Ten, they’ve been just good enough to finish the regular season in second. The consistency of Wisconsin is remarkable, as they’ve now won 12 or more conference games for eight straight seasons.

1. Purdue (25-6, 14-4; 1.11 PPP, 0.97 PPP allowed; KenPom – 14, Sagarin – 12, RPI – 17) (Last Week: 1)

The Boilermakers clinched the Big Ten title on Tuesday by dispatching Indiana and proceeded to knock off Northwestern on senior night in Evanston. They’ll enter the Big Ten Tournament with the top seed and a double-bye, but as Indiana learned last year, a No. 1 seed offers no guarantees.

Filed to:

  • Arch Puddington

    See my post above.

  • Missing Moye

    I live in Southwestern Ohio and stay fairly up on UC, Xavier, and Dayton. Cronin is definitely my least favorite coach out of those 3 and would much rather have Miller or Mack.

    Cronin’s teams have always struck me as fundamentally poor and offensively challenged. Cronin is a Huggins disciple, and while not quite the same, not quite different either. His teams play tough, physical defense. His players haven’t had the off-court troubles that Huggin’s players always had, but there was the crosstown shootout brawl in 2011 under Cronin’s watch.

    Not a bad coach, just a bad fit for IU and what our program represents, imo.

  • IULore

    Is he good or are his players real real big?

  • IULore

    hmmm

  • IULore

    haha, good one

  • N71

    Its an interesting theory, with such parity in the BigTen we all beat each other up equally and therefore averaged out somewhere in the middle of the pack nationally. Now take Michigan State and pit them against Gonzaga in the Sweet16 and see if the Zags don’t go down to Sparty. I’d prefer to agree with you versus thinking my conference sucks. In summary, I think you’re playing to the crowd here, very clever ploy for a few up votes. I like the way you think.

  • Tcuomo

    Probably not, but i would also argue how many teams have beaten 2 #1 seeds and not made the tourney? IU might be making history for all the wrong reasons. I think IU would be considered back on the bubble just to create buzz, but nothing more than that. IU doesn’t deserve to be in over teams like Illinois State, Xavier, Rhode Island, Wake Forest, and several others. However, the bubble does seem to be ridiculously weak this year.

    I will say this: Never underestimate the greed of the NCAA. Other than those 2 wins, the best thing IU has going for it is the name on the front of the jersey. If the Hoosiers get 3 wins the NCAA might get dollar signs in their eyes and put them in (see UCLA 2015 & Cuse 2016).

    To be honest, I don’t think any of this really matters. It’s the BIG Tourney with a potential 2nd round match-up with Wisco. That should bring our chances of getting to Saturday to about 1%. I would love a run to Saturday, but this team hasn’t shown it can even string 2 wins together since January 21st.

  • IULore

    They certainly saw dollar signs with that sham of a bracket last year. Unfortunately, the NCAA rarely does IU any favors.

  • Tcuomo

    I was thinking about this the other day. If Purdue loses their first game in the BIG Tourney, I wonder if the committee will have the balls to put them in a region with UK, UNC, ND, and 2 other BIG teams that defeated them earlier in the season. Especially since the BIG is considered weaker this year, than last. Still upset about that

  • IULore

    Yeah, goes down as a ‘sweet 16’ but sure didn’t feel like one. Chattanooga was a trendy pick to knock us off, too.

  • IULore

    I don’t know the adjustment methods. I don’t think they can take in the totality of the horribleness of the SEC

  • bball at nick’s

    Lol, if I lived for the up votes, I’d be dead for now. I’ve been saying the B1G is better than many of think for a while, although not obsessively. As you said, there is no way to assess objectively how good we are if we’re all beating each other. But more than that, the more parity the more collective improvement. Also gave you an up vote since you value them so much, LOL. In any case, your intelligent response to my point is better than any up vote!

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    I think the league is deep this year. The top and bottom of the league are really poor, though. Purdue would have been lucky to finish in the top 4 of the Big 12 or the ACC…and probably the Big East. Rutgers would have been lucky to finish in the top half of most mid majors, and I don’t think they’d have won half of the one-bid leagues. The strength of the league is how many teams are good, but not great.

  • Tcuomo

    I’m sure if the committee could go back they would swap out Chattanooga for Middle Tennessee or LR-Arkansas.

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    I’d say not even sideways. Cronin’s winning percentage at Cincy is .638, and he has a 4-6 record in the NCAAs at Cincy.

    Also, if memory serves, I believe they’ve had some discipline problems during his tenure. I know they have gotten into on-court brawls during his tenure. I think he’d be a really bad choice, even though they are playing well this year.

  • IULore

    I’m sure they would. If we manage to get this year I could see us having to play someone like houston in a play in game

  • IULore

    “grass is greener” effect.

  • Arch Puddington

    Well, that’s a little like saying that even though you can’t actually refute something you’re going to continue rejecting it because it doesn’t square with your thesis.

    More to the point, the SEC isn’t as bad as you say it is. It has 5 teams in the top 50, including two ranked higher than anyone in the B1G. It is only ranked one spot beneath the B1G in ESPN’s conference BPI ranking. I think you are overstating how bad it is and understating the relevance of Kenpom’s offensive and defensive rankings.

  • pcantidote

    I think North Carolina’s bigs could put Swanigan in his place.

  • TomJameson

    Hahaha … I was wondering what the heck you were talking about, then it hit me. Of course under center in basketball means something different than in football. Maybe I should have said “at” center, that might not have left me so vulnerable. 🙂

  • IULore

    I think thomas is a natural 4 but doesn’t have the handles right now. Good, shooter, quick, runs, but not quite coordinated enough right now. I loooove DD though. If TB comes back I think DD will start at center and TB at the 4.

  • Shaggy_C

    The complaints about Cal from the pUKe fanbase are the same as ours about Crean. His pro-style, run-and-gun offense is good for running up scores but bad for defense and when it comes down to it he’s not really a great in-game coach who can make strong adjustments on the fly. He can’t win consistently when he doesn’t have the best players on the floor.

  • IULore

    I don’t know what the stats are, but eye test, his teams never really seem that great execution-wise. Just really really really talented.

  • TomJameson

    A lot of people underestimate DD, IMHO. Next year he’ll surprise a few with the leap he makes. As always though, it depends on the work the player puts into his game.
    Bad news is that (my opinion again), if anybody follows CTC to a different school, it would be DD.

  • Arch Puddington

    Maybe, but five Final Fours in the last nine years — including one at Memphis — tells me that his program works pretty well. Whether we like his methods or not (we don’t), it’s pretty hard to argue that he isn’t great at what he does. It takes talent to win, and he is better at getting it than anybody. He is also quite skilled at getting elite athletes who could be stars at dozens of other top programs to play complementary roles on a team filled with other top players. Coaching is often as much psychology as x’s and o’s, and he is as good as anyone at that part. I think he’s better at x’s and o’s than people give him credit for, but even if I’m wrong, the point remains that that is just one aspect of coaching. Attracting talented players and getting them to buy into a system are just as important, if not more so, and arguably his only peer in that regard is Mike Kryzewski.

  • Ole Man

    Your memory serves you correctly!

  • SilentBob

    Man that’s depressing. I hate the man, but he’s dang good at what he does

  • SilentBob

    Really? That is quite surprising. Thought they’d average out much higher than that. Still as we’ve both said, they come out to play in march on both ends of the floor.

  • Ohio Hoosier

    These are great observations.
    This IU team doesn’t play defense (see OSU game)
    and does not buy into the coach’s offensive philosophy.
    You don’t just flip a switch and change the way you play
    overnight.

  • John D Murphy

    Well said.

  • John D Murphy

    Bingo. The pundits have to have something to discuss.

  • John D Murphy

    I don’t think the B1G can call any other conference bad this year.

  • John D Murphy

    I think it is possible the B1G won’t have any team in the sweet 16. I would be shocked if more than 1 makes it.

  • John D Murphy

    I’m on record to disagree.

  • bball at nick’s

    Disagree!

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    Care to expound?

  • bball at nick’s

    I don’t think cross-league comparisons mean anything, especially when you have parity within a league (such as the B1G). Our lower team rankings are a result of teams within the league clobbering each other. Let’s compare notes in a few weeks. Purdue is due for a run, and the bitter taste of last year is too much for them.

  • Outoftheloop

    Also on Mack.s watch. That is a black mark for each, not just one! So Miller of Dayton is our man?

  • Missing Moye

    Absolutely. I’d be thrilled to have him as a coach.