It’s May and more than five months separate us from the opening of the 2015-2016 season, but it’s never a bad time to check in on the Big Ten landscape.
Here’s our first stab at forecasting next season’s conference standings with last season’s records in parenthesis:
14. Rutgers (10-22, 2-16)
· Arriving: Corey Sanders (247Composite top 100), Deshawn Freeman, Jonathan Laurent, Justin Goode, Kejuan Johnson
· Departing: Junior Etou (transfer), Kadeem Jack (graduation), Kerwin Okoro (transfer), Malick Kone (graduation), Myles Mack (graduation)
Outlook: Eddie Jordan knew it would be a long process to build Rutgers into a respectable program when he took the job and as he enters year three at the helm, there’s still plenty of work to be done. The Scarlet Knights did manage to sign a top 100 recruit in point guard Corey Sanders. But in a loaded Big Ten, any optimism for a move up the league standings in Piscataway should be guarded.
13. Minnesota (18-15, 6-12)
· Arriving: Dupree McBrayer, Jarvis Johnson, J.R. Gilbert, Jordan Murphy, Kevin Dorsey
· Departing: Andre Hollins (graduation), Deandre Mathieu (graduation), Elliott Eliason (graduation), Maurice Walker (graduation)
Outlook: Count me as a skeptic of Gophers coach Richard Pitino, who enters his third season in Minneapolis and was mentioned for several jobs across the country despite never reaching the NCAA tournament in three seasons as a head coach. Minnesota underachieved last season, lost its three best players and this is one of the league’s weakest rosters in terms of talent.
The Inside the Hall Big Ten Power Rankings are back for a final week, as Wisconsin has clinched the outright Big Ten title and teams now prepare for the Big Ten tournament, starting tomorrow.
Here’s a look at where each team stands following the conclusion of league play in 2015:
14. Rutgers (10-21, 2-16, PPP: .90, PPP Allowed: 1.08) (Last week: 14) … A 14-game losing streak is what has defined the Scarlet Knights’ second half of this season after they started 10-7 and 2-2 in the Big Ten, including a win over eventual outright champions Wisconsin. But the Scarlet Knights simply have been overpowered in many of their games since then, with their regular season mercifully coming to an end in Ann Arbor with a 79-69 loss. What that scoreline did not indicate, however, is that the Wolverines led, 75-48, with the comeback a sign that maybe the Scarlet Knights still have a sign of life to them heading into the Big Ten tournament.
13. Penn State (16-15, 4-14, PPP: .96, PPP Allowed: 1.02) (Last week: 13) … Heading into Sunday’s game at Minnesota, the Nittany Lions were in the midst of a six-game losing streak — their second such drought in the Big Ten season. And against the Golden Gophers, the Nittany Lions led by as many 13 in the second half before it collapsed as the two teams exchanged leads late. But with the game tied in the final possession, the Nittany Lions turned to their most important contributor — D.J. Newbill, who has been used in 31.3 percent of Penn State possessions in league play (second-most in the league) — who nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give them their first win since Feb. 7.
12. Nebraska (13-17, 5-13, PPP: .93, PPP Allowed: 1.04) (Last week: 12) … What has been nothing short of a disappointing season for the Cornhuskers has continued into the Big Ten tournament, as Tim Miles’ squad heads to Chicago on an eight-game skid. This losing streak, which dropped the Cornhuskers from 5-5 in the Big Ten to sole possession of 12th place, has had its share of drama as well. It was in this skid that Miles banished his players from their locker room and lounge — a privilege he just reinstated on Saturday — and on Sunday in their regular season finale against Maryland the Cornhuskers were in fact competitive. They came back late against the Terrapins in Pinnacle Bank Arena but allowed a late jumper from Dez Wells that sealed a 64-61 loss. Even more troubling, though: It was just their third game since Jan. 24 in which Nebraska scored at least 60 points.
The Inside the Hall Big Ten Power Rankings are back for another week, as Wisconsin has clinched at least a share of the Big Ten title while five other teams remain in contention for top four Big Ten tournament seeding.
Here’s a look at where each team stands following the ninth week of play in 2015:
14. Rutgers (10-19, 2-14, PPP: .89, PPP Allowed: 1.07) (Last week: 14) … The 12-game losing streak continues, but the Scarlet Knights showed life in Thursday’s loss at Purdue. They got down by as many as 20 points midway through the second half, but to close the game Rutgers outscored Purdue, 38-25, even cutting the Boilermakers lead to just six points with 21 seconds remaining. The game also happened to have the Scarlet Knights’ most efficient offensive output in that losing streak at 1.11 PPP, their best mark since their Jan. 11 win over Wisconsin. (Next up: March 3 vs. Maryland; March 7 at Michigan)
13. Penn State (15-14, 3-13, PPP: .95, PPP Allowed: 1.01) (Last week: 13) … They had just one game this past week, and the Nittany Lions nearly managed to earn their first win in three weeks. But an up-and-down game against Iowa ended in yet another loss for Pat Chambers’ squad, as it sealed a bottom-four finish in the league for the fourth straight year in Chambers’ tenure. The Nittany Lions, however, did give Iowa a run for its money — taking a 12-point lead early and coming back from a seven-point halftime deficit to force overtime. The stinging, game-deciding play, however? A D.J. Newbill turnover with 30 seconds left in his second-to-last ever game inside the Bryce Jordan Center that turned into two Iowa free throws and an insurmountable deficit. (Next up: March 4 vs. Ohio State; March 8 at Minnesota)
The Inside the Hall Big Ten Power Rankings are back for another week, as Wisconsin is now just a game away from clinching at least a share of the Big Ten title, while three other teams — Purdue, Maryland and Michigan State — have separated themselves by a two-game margin in the top four of the Big Ten standings.
Here’s a look at where each team stands following the eighth week of play in 2015:
14. Rutgers (10-18, 2-13, PPP: .87, PPP Allowed: 1.07) (Last week: 14) … The Scarlet Knights’ pitiful slide toward the bottom of the Big Ten standings took another step in that direction this past week with two 30-point losses. The first, an 81-47 defeat, came on the road at Iowa, who was coming off two losses of their own. The second was an 84-54 home loss to Indiana on Sunday, the fifth straight game they were limited to less than a point per possession. After Sunday’s loss, Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan was asked whether his team still has fight. It does, he suggested, but he said his team simply isn’t “good enough” yet to compete in this league. (Next up: Feb. 26 at Purdue)
13. Penn State (15-13, 3-12, PPP: .95, PPP Allowed: 1.01) (Last week: 12) …Another season has gone to the wayside for the Nittany Lions. There was a glimmer of hope after beating Nebraska on Feb. 7, but since then they have turned in three of their four-worst offensive outputs of the season — two of them coming in the past week — all of them losses. In fact, Saturday’s 60-39 defeat at Northwestern, in which they recorded just .68 PPP, was the third worst offensive effort the Nittany Lions have had in Pat Chambers’s entire four years in State College. (Next up: Feb. 28 vs. Iowa)
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)
The Inside the Hall Big Ten Power Rankings are back for another week, as Wisconsin has pulled away with a three-game lead while the next six teams in the standings each have four losses.
Here’s a look at where each team stands following the sixth week of play in 2015:
14. Northwestern (10-13, 1-9, PPP: 1.00, PPP Allowed: 1.13) (Last week: 14) … The Wildcats’ losing streak stretched to nine games this past week after losses on the road to Nebraska and Wisconsin. The two losses, though, were unlike their previous six — in that each were by double-digit margins. They also included two of their three worst defensive performances thus far this Big Ten season — with top five Big Ten offenses Iowa and Michigan State looming on the schedule this week. (Next up: Feb. 10 vs. Michigan State; Feb. 15 vs. Iowa)
13. Rutgers (10-15, 2-10, PPP: .90, PPP Allowed: 1.05) (Last week: 13) … When their losing streak was at six games after a loss at Indiana, Scarlet Knights coach Eddie Jordan said he was used to leading losing teams. They have yet to find that elusive win — losing their two games this past week by double digit margins to both Illinois and Ohio State. Most notable about the Scarlet Knights’ struggles, though, has been their offense. Just how bad is it? Their points per possession rate is the second worst in league play dating back to the 2004-2005 season. (Next up: Feb. 12 vs. Purdue)
12. Penn State (15-9, 3-8, PPP: .99, PPP Allowed: 1.00) (Last week: 12) … They did not have great offense in either of their two games this past week, with just .85 points per possession against Maryland and a 25.8 percent turnover rate against Nebraska, but the Nittany Lions split results and have three wins in their past five after their 0-6 start to Big Ten play. Their defense in their win against Nebraska was stellar, too — as they forced the Cornhuskers into shooting a dreadful 15-of-51 from the floor. (Next up: Feb. 11 at Ohio State; Feb. 14 vs. Maryland)
The Inside the Hall Big Ten Power Rankings are back for another week, and with it comes plenty of movement at the halfway point of conference action.
Here’s a look at where each team stands following the fifth week of play in 2015:
14. Northwestern (10-11, 1-7, PPP: 1.01, PPP Allowed: 1.10) (Last week: 13) … It’s been more than a month since the Wildcats have won a game. Their lone game this past week was on Saturday at home against Purdue, and even then the largest lead they had the entire game was just three points. Midway through the second half, the Boilermakers had the win in the bag. Efficiency wise, the Wildcats rank in the bottom half in both offense and defense — but neither ranks last in the league. They simply haven’t been able to find ways to win. (Next up: Feb. 3 at Nebraska; Feb. 7 at Wisconsin)
13. Rutgers (10-13, 2-8, PPP: .91, PPP Allowed: 1.04) (Last week: 12) … Just as a reminder, three weeks ago the Scarlet Knights beat Wisconsin in Piscataway. Because since then, they haven’t shown much. The Scarlet Knights now find themselves on a six-game losing streak after Saturday’s loss at Indiana — as even the Big Ten’s worst offense couldn’t get enough production against the league’s second-worst defense. Their remaining schedule isn’t easy, either — their remaining opponents are a combined 44-28 in league play thus far. (Next up: Feb. 3 at Illinois; Feb. 8 vs. Ohio State)