Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 1

  • 12/26/2011 8:19 am in

Inside the Hall’s Big Ten power rankings are back. Each Monday during the conference season, we’ll deliver our team-by-team ranking of the league. For the first edition, the descriptions after each team will be a little bit longer than normal.

Inside the Hall Big Ten power rankings: Week 1

12. Iowa (8-5)…There’s just no other way to say it — the Hawkeyes are bad. A 77-61 home loss to the Campbell Fighting Camels is about as ugly as they come.

11. Penn State (8-5)…The Nittany Lions have had a number of close losses, not including a 85-47 blowout defeat against Kentucky. Guard Tim Frazier is averaging an impressive 17.2 points per game.

10. Nebraska (8-3)…The balanced Cornhuskers have an impressive double-overtime win over USC on their resume, but not much else. Guard Bo Spencer (16 ppg) is a player to watch.

9. Minnesota (12-1)…When the Gophers lost Trevor Mbakwe, they lost any real chance to compete in the Big Ten. Minnesota has six players averaging between 6.1 and 9.9 points per game, but without Mbakwe, the Gophers no longer have a player capable of carrying the scoring load.

8. Northwestern (10-2)…The Wildcats have beaten Georgia Tech and Seton Hall, and they lost to then-No. 21 Creighton by just eight points. John Shurna and Drew Crawford are each capable of putting up huge numbers on any given night, and the Wildcats have a group of role players to do the dirty work.

7. Illinois (11-2)...The Illini’s impressive performance against unbeaten Missouri is proof that they have the talent to compete with anybody in the conference. They’ve got plenty of depth with D.J. Richardson, Meyers Leonard and Brandon Paul, but Illinois is too inconsistent to be considered a power in the conference.

6. Purdue (10-3)…The Boilermakers have been disappointing in late-game situations without a reliable go-to player. Their loss to Butler at Conseco Fieldhouse was particularly bad. But with Robbie Hummel, Lewis Jackson, Kelsey Barlow and Ryne Smith all back, the Boilers will be around for awhile. If Jackson can make a free throw, that is.

5. Michigan (10-2)…Talented? Yes. But something tells me the Wolverines will find some way to underachieve. They beat a good Memphis team, but then lost to a fairly average Virginia club. Tim Hardaway Jr. has what it takes to be a star in the conference, and Zach Novak and Stu Douglass provide plenty of experience that should keep Michigan in the hunt.

4. Michigan State (11-2)…The Spartans aren’t as talented as they’ve been in recent years, but you can never bet against Tom Izzo. The experience of Draymond Green pushes the Spartans slightly ahead of Michigan. Michigan State is also battle tested. Even though the Spartans lost their only two games against ranked teams, they competed with both Duke and North Carolina.

3. Wisconsin (11-2)…The Badgers lost a lot of leadership and production in Jon Leuer, but they have star guard Jordan Taylor back. Taylor’s numbers are down a bit this year — he’s averaging just 12.2 points per game after putting up 18.1 per contest last season — but he usually heats up when Big Ten season gets rolling. Without Leuer, though, defenses have been able to key on Taylor, which has resulted in much poorer shooting numbers than a year ago. Taylor is shooting only 32 percent from 3-point range this season, down from 43 percent in 2010-11. Still, look for Taylor and the Badgers to hang around at the top of the conference standings and battle for a title late.

2. Indiana (12-0)…You could make a case for the Hoosiers in the top spot, but the Buckeyes are still the conference’s best when they have Sullinger in the lineup. At this point in the season, nobody has a more impressive win than Indiana’s against Kentucky. The Hoosiers do have a couple of question marks at they prepare to play Michigan State. First, how will Cody Zeller hold up against consistently good and physical competition? Second, how serious are the injuries to Will Sheehey and Verdell Jones? With such a young team, the Hoosiers can’t afford to lose anybody.

1. Ohio State (12-1)…The Buckeyes’ lone loss to Kansas came when they were without star big man Jared Sullinger. With Sullinger in the lineup, the Buckeyes are as good as any team in the country. Their dominating 85-63 win against Duke made that perfectly clear. Without him, though, Ohio State is beatable. Indiana native Deshaun Thomas is having a breakout season for the Buckeyes, and William Buford and Aaron Craft provide necessary experience. But the Buckeyes aren’t all that deep.

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  • ldiu

    We will all certainly be a lot smarter about these rankings over the next 10 days.  I sure hope what is printed here is close to reality.  Never the less, it sure has been a fun 6 weeks for all of us!!!

  • N71

    I’ve seen 9 good teams this year in the Big Ten and for us to be considered #2 in that group is impressive.  Our lack of depth seems to be a theme but that’s not a proven fact yet other than the 5 spot.  Remy and Austin could prove to be extremely valuable pieces but I would like to get some value out of Jeff Howard if possible.

  • Anonymous

    I think the healthy Hoosiers have a chance to beat anybody at home..and be competitive against anybody on the road. The “walking wounded Hoosiers” still have a shot at home but are gonna get some black eyes on the road. I think the B-10 is better than some are giving it credit for…hate he way our schedule starts..but you gotta play them all sometime. Timing with injuries/travel etc…is the luck of the game.

  • Anonymous

    Point well taken.  IMO we have a shot at the first two even if VJIII and Sheehey can’t play.  I think VJIII has the better shot at getting back into the lineup quicker.  Sometimes with a sprained ankle in Sheehey’s case you can get back in after a week with a good trainer’s tape job.

    Ohio St. looks to be the best defensive team right now even though Pomeroy rates Wisky higher. We’ll need our best offensive games like we’ve played against in lesser competition in this coming next week.

    I’m very interested how Zeller will contribute on the inside against Ohio St.

  • Devout Hoosier

    There are 9 very good teams in the conference this year and I’ve been watching all of them play.  The ordering here is way off IMO and we’ll see it shake out properly after a few B10 games are played by each.

    The only big issue I have here is Minnesota and Purdue.  The big surprises I’ve seen this season is how well Minnesota has played without Mbakwe and how many struggles Purdue has had with Hummel back.  Swap #6 & #9 at a minimum.

  • Anonymous

    12-0 was something not many were banking on.   My perception is that at the beginning of the year maybe half of us were thinking an 18-13 NIT type of year and half a 21-10 NCAA 8/9 seed type of year – with an additional 10% (like Tolly1)  thinking something better (because at ITH we ALWAYS give 110%).  These next three games have me nervous.  I’m hoping for 2-1 but would consider 1-2 probably slightly more likely.   If we do make it through 2-1 or (gasp) 3-0, I’m officially going to go the unbridled optimism route and start hoping for a 2-4 range NCAA seed and Sweet 16 appearance.   Anyway you cut it – I love this team!!!!!!!! 

  • Anonymous

    Well said “Hanging”..I always like to work the match ups for each game..and the absence of Sheheey really hurts us there> I mean look at MSU and OSU..kinda scary..especially on the offensive glass where each team excells.

  • blue interloper

    Michigan fan here crossing over from  No argument on Michigan’s ranking: heck, a spot or two down wouldn’t have offended me, given the B1G’s loaded middle section.  Really, it was a desire to defend Virginia that prompted me to comment. I like them for third in the ACC.   Mike Scott should be getting more national attention, and Tony Bennett’s doing a great job — hope his next coaching stop is in our conference. 

    Thank you so very much for beating KY.

  • rick

    The Hoosiers have proven they can play with any one when healthy and if the can rebound-which may be the difference against Mich st.

  • Bob319

    I disagree with N71 and others about our lack of depth overall.  Our problem is and will be a big guy to help Zeller on the boeads and in the paint.  Unfortunately, teams like Wisconsin should really be tough for Indiana.  Elston will have to play many more quality minutes minutes against bigger teams.  NC state game was a prime example for 35 minutes of that game.   I like Crean, but I disagree about how little of playing time Elston has been getting.  He will need to be relied on much more heavily throughout the Big Ten season and into the tournament, if this team can reach its full potential. 

  • Skarimhaddad

    Given the power rankings. It would be considered an upset if Mich st upends IU in the opener?

  • Anonymous

    IU is way too high on that ranking. Let’s keep it in perspective. GREAT win over KY, GOOD wins over NC State, ND. DECENT win over Butler. The rest are wins a good team should handle..and that’s what we are..good. MSU’s preseason schedule is 10x tougher. OSU is deeper. Illinois and Wisconsin are a handful any way you slice it.

    And Purdue is terrible.

    If we can get healthy and stay true to working it through Cody, we get 24 wins this year and a 3/4 seed in the NCAA’s.

    But #2 in the power rank? Too much, too soon.

  • Matthew Miller

    Don’t forget how much home court dominates in conference season, all across the country. If you look at the Saragin rankings, the predictors for the Michigan St. game are Indiana at 89.97 and Michigan St. at 89.15. So that would slightly favor Indiana, by less than a point. 

    BUT he includes a home advantage. The average home advantage for this season is 4.04. So that means Michigan St. would be favored in this game by a little more than 3 points.

    Either way, should be an awesome game.

  • Anonymous

    There has definitely been a lot of hype around Indiana’s hot start this year. We will find out what this team is made of soon. I think if Sheehey and Jones can come back healthy, IU can get at least two wins.

  • HoosierSmitty

    Hey, even a few Boilers were IU fans for a day…UK doesn’t seem to have a lot of friends…

    Good luck to the Wolverines in the B1G this season. 

  • HoosierSmitty

    I don’t think you can argue with IU at No. 2 in the Power Rankings given what the team has accomplished prior to the B1G season versus the rest of the B1G. However, I think most Hoosier fans would agree it’s a little too high. Michigan State and Wisconsin just give off the “aura” of being better. 

    IU at No. 4 is probably more in line with where I think the team currently is, but again, the reality is that IU has a solid gold W on its resume and has beaten every other opponent by at least 11 points.   
    My feeling is probably more a result of IU’s past struggles, not anything that’s happened this year, but I can’t shake that feeling. IU has clearly proven it belongs in the title conversation, but I’m really nervous about what’s going to happen if we falter in our first 3 games of the season. Nothing comes easy in the B1G, but this is a gauntlet to run at the start. 

    Win @ MSU on Wednesday and there’s no argument anymore. 

  • HoosierSmitty

    Howard’s just a walk-on with a little size. “Bless his heart” for playing at IU as my old coach used to say. Not sure we’ll ever see anything out of him other than a few garbage minutes or late 1st half minutes when we’re in foul trouble. 

    Zeller needs to stay out of foul trouble and Pritchard and Elston need to play their roles well when they’re in the game. At some points, we’ll have matchup issues. Another reason we need a healthy Sheehey, who has proven he’s willing to guard anyone, anywhere. 

  • Anonymous

    MSU’s nonconference schedule 10x harder?  I disagree.  With the exception of Duke (in addition to the UNC game), MSU’s schedule is filled with just as much cupcakery such that I would venture to say the schedule is more similar than not.  Difference is, IU beat the number one team they were paired with, thank goodness.  

    Regardless, we can all agree a win there on Wednesday would be huge.  First time since 1991 wouldn’t it be?  I’m an IU grad living in the Detroit metro area and have found MSU fans are insufferable, so let’s keep them quiet with a big W.

  • Anonymous

    Okay, 5x. UNC, Duke, Gonzaga, Florida State. And I’m with you all the way.

  • Andrew

    Look at Minnesota’s schedule.  They’ve beaten Bucknell, South Dakota St., Fairfield, Mount St. Mary’s, DePaul, ISU, Va Tech, USC, Appalachian St., St. Peter’s, Central Michigan and North Dakota St.  They’ve yet to play a ROAD game (they did play 3 games in Orlando, which is where they lost to Dayton.)  They are weak, and will lose both games this week (@ Illinois, @ Michigan).

  • Andrew

    Florida State?  At home?  NC State on the road is a much tougher game.

  • Andrew

    Michigan at home should not be mentioned in the same breath as @ Sparty and O$U at home.  We’ve beaten them the last two years at AH and blew a 20-point second half lead three seasons ago.  They will be exposed in the B1G.  IU by double digits.  (I have us losing the first 2 games, hope I’m wrong.)

  • Anonymous

    I’d be surprised if anyone who actually knows anything about their status is saying anything. Seems like all teams, and especially IU, treat these matters like state secrets. I wouldn’t read anything good or bad into the silence.

  • HoosierSmitty

    Fair enough, but after two tough games like MSU and OSU (which could be losses), the Mich game becomes HUGE. 

  • HoosierSmitty

    Crossing my fingers that these Hoosiers remember the sting of defeat in OT last year at MSU and use that bitter taste to come out with a determined swagger and resolve to win. 

  • Bleeding Crimson

    We always welcome “class” responses on this site.  So comment anytime.  I have found myself on your site as well but no responses.  We can all agree that we love seeing pUKe go down regardless who is playing them.  Those are my favorite two teams, IU and who play pUKe, then I go straight to pull for the B1G preseason regardless who they play.  We want the B1G to always be strong and win the ACC Ch.  But I do want Illinois and PUke at the bottom in that order.  Many fans on here are closer logistically speaking but pUKe is my biggest rival due to the fact I’ve from Southern Ind.  Only speaking for myself.
    Anyways, welcome and chat anytime.  It’s always nice to get another perspective from the outside so keep up posted.

  • Anonymous

    Elston has had injury problems since before pUKe. Maybe, just maybe CTC knows what he is doing. And contrary to popular belief, IU needs Jones.

  • Anonymous

    Last year’s trip to the Breslin Center is what gives me hope for Wednesday night’s game: if that team could force OT in 2010, 2011’s can surely reign victorious. 

  • IUfanPurduePhD

    I’m with you, man.  I think part of me wants to keep IU in the 4-5 range just so we’ll have places to which we can climb (and the plummet after defeat won’t be so far).  I think the losing of the past 3 years still lurks in the back of my mind … I’d be thrilled with 2-1 in the next 3 games, would die for 3-0, but wouldn’t be surprised if we ended up 0-3.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve thought about it that way as well, and even looking a few games beyond the first 3, a 1-2 start wouldn’t derail IU at all, and I wouldn’t be that surprised by it either, especially if Sheehey is out for all 3 games.

  • Interestingly, the IU michigan st game has MSU as the favorite by 10 1/2  points.  Shows a lack of respect at this point in the season.  I see us as maybe a 3 point underdog and with Will playing well think we could pull the upset….big game for us.

  • Andrew

    Couldn’t agree more.

  • Andrew

    Where are you seeing that, and this early?  No way is that accurate.  Sparty will be -4 or -5.

  • Devout Hoosier

    Yes they’re weak.  Listen, I’m no Gopher fan or Purdue fan.  Illinois and Michigan are both better.  Minnesota should loose both road games.  
    That doesn’t change facts though when you’re arguing the bottom half of the B10.  Minnesota didn’t fall apart without Mbakwe but Purdue not only has lost three games, but there margin of victories have been slim.

    This power ranking is completely subjective.

  • Guest

    Try to remember you had this ‘age-over-talent’ sentiment next year.  Besides…”Age matters, as long as the talent level is not too wide apart” ???  I’m fairly certain Will OR Vic could beat Moore AND Roth in a game of two on one.  Furthermore, could have last year as Freshmen.  I truly mean no disrespect to these older guys, it’s just that we are recruiting talent to backfill a lack-thereof….. Now let’s do the backfilling.

  • Devout Hoosier

    Illinois needed double overtime at home to win over the Gophers today.