Big Ten Power Rankings: January 26

  • 01/26/2015 1:26 pm in

The Inside the Hall Big Ten Power Rankings are back for another week, and with it comes a new No. 1.

Here’s a look at where each team stands following the fourth week of play in 2015: 

14. Penn State (13-7, 1-6, PPP: 1.03, PPP Allowed: 1.07) (Last week: 14) … Well, it took longer than the Nittany Lions had hoped for but on Saturday they finally picked up their first win of the Big Ten season in a 79-51 drubbing of Rutgers. But outside of that result, not much has gone well for Patrick Chambers’s squad. They rank last in the league in effective field goal percentage defense, and despite keeping things close in East Lansing last Wednesday, they still don’t have enough to put performances into wins. (Next up: Jan. 28 vs. Minnesota; Jan. 31 at Illinois)

13. Northwestern (10-10, 1-6, PPP: 1.01, PPP Allowed: 1.09) (Last week: 13) If there has been a theme that has emerged with the Wildcats this season it has been they have been close over and over — and have failed to put the result together when it has mattered most. They held an 11-point lead at Maryland with 4:21 to go on Sunday and lost. They gave Ohio State a stern test on Thursday and lost. In their past five games, all losses, the Wildcats have been defeated by a combined 17 points. (Next up: Jan. 31 vs. Purdue)

12. Rutgers (10-11, 2-6, PPP: .91, PPP Allowed: 1.03) (Last week: 11) … Since their shock win over Wisconsin, the Scarlet Knights have simply struggled to put any result together, most recently scoring an average 50.5 points per game in their two losses this past week. The Scarlet Knights have the league’s worst offense — in efficiency, shooting and turnovers – and when they aren’t getting stops like they couldn’t in their 28-point loss to Penn State, it simply is difficult for them to be competitive in the Big Ten. (Next up: Jan 27 vs. Michigan State; Jan. 31 at Indiana)

11. Minnesota (13-8, 2-6, PPP: 1.03, PPP Allowed: 1.06) (Last week: 12) After their nightmare start to the Big Ten season, the Golden Gophers have finally found their way to the win column, winning two of their past three games against Rutgers and, most recently, Illinois. They still, however, have had trouble winning away from Williams Arena — they are 0-4 in Big Ten play on the road — and for a team as experienced as the Gophers are, they have missed too many opportunities. (Next up: Jan. 28 at Penn State; Jan. 31 vs. Nebraska)

10. Illinois (13-8, 3-5, PPP: 1.00, PPP Allowed: 1.05) (Last week: 10) The injury problems for the Fighting Illini continued last week as 6-foot-3 guard Aaron Cosby was declared out with a retinal tear. The injury problems are so severe, in fact, they had a student manager suit up for Saturday’s game at Minnesota. Without star Rayvonte Rice, the Illini’s depth is being challenged — and with it their NCAA tournament hopes lie in the balance. (Next up: Jan. 31 vs. Penn State)

9. Nebraska (12-7, 4-3, PPP: .98, PPP Allowed: .98) (Last week: 9) The Cornhuskers appear back on track after their 0-2 start to the Big Ten season, taking advantage of their home court to win four straight in Pinnacle Bank Arena against Rutgers, Illinois, and this past week Minnesota and Michigan State. They still have yet to win on the road in the Big Ten — and have three of their next four away from Lincoln — but it appears the Cornhuskers have at least found stability after struggling early in the season. (Next up: Jan. 27 at Michigan; Jan. 31 at Minnesota)

8. Michigan (12-8, 5-3, PPP: .99, PPP Allowed: 1.01) (Last week: 8) Still trying to maneuver the Big Ten without their best player, the Wolverines managed to hold on against Rutgers and even took Wisconsin to overtime on Saturday before the Badgers dominated the five-minute period to prevail. What’s clear though is the Wolverines have stayed in games thanks to their defense — holding the Badgers to just 57 points in regulation and Rutgers to just 50 points in the Wolverines’ win in Piscataway. Scoring, though, won’t be as easy: Michigan is 12th in the league in both scoring and shooting efficiency. (Next up: Jan. 27 vs. Nebraska; Feb. 1 at Michigan State)

7. Purdue (12-8, 4-3, PPP: 1.02, PPP Allowed: 1.02) (Last week: 7) It’s no secret that the Boilermakers are at their best when they are effective with their 2s. Against Illinois on Wednesday, the Boilermakers shot worse than 50 percent on their 2s. But against Iowa just three days later, Purdue shot 63.6 percent on their 2s, even against one of the bigger teams in the league. The Boilermakers are the league’s worst 3-point shooting team but they have made it clear this season: When they get the ball inside, they are a difficult team to beat. (Next up: Jan. 28 vs. Indiana; Jan. 31 at Northwestern)

6. Michigan State (13-7, 4-3, PPP: 1.07, PPP Allowed: 1.01) (Last week: 5) After being blown out last weekend by Maryland, the Spartans were unconvincing in their two games this past week — escaping with a six-point win against Penn State in East Lansing and falling too far behind at Nebraska for a late comeback to turn into a win. But with a favorable schedule ahead, the Spartans have an opportunity to regain some lost confidence. (Next up: Jan. 27 at Rutgers; Feb. 1 vs. Michigan)

5. Iowa (13-7, 4-3, PPP: 1.10, PPP Allowed: 1.16) (Last week: 3) Just one week ago, the Hawkeyes were ranked No. 25 in the Associated Press poll and were flying high after their second win over Ohio State. But after a disaster of a week, the Hawkeyes found themselves out of the poll completely on Monday. On Tuesday, the Hawkeyes were demolished in Madison — allowing a whopping 1.52 points per possession en route to an 82-50 loss to Wisconsin. On Saturday, the Hawkeyes once again struggled on defense in their 67-63 loss at Purdue. And through four weeks of Big Ten play, Iowa finds itself last in Big Ten play in defensive efficiency. (Next up: Jan. 31 vs. Wisconsin)

4. Ohio State (16-5, 5-3, PPP: 1.12, PPP Allowed: 1.05) (Last week: 6) Another week, another two games for D’Angelo Russell, the Big Ten’s player and freshman of the week, to showcase his versatile skillset. The Buckeyes star freshman continues to dominate each game he plays — scoring 33 points at Northwestern on Thursday and following it with 22 points and 10 assists against Indiana on Sunday. As if Russell’s scoring isn’t difficult enough to stop, his ability to distribute is just as good. And the Buckeyes have plenty of other weapons than just Russell. For opposing teams game in and game out, that’s a defensive nightmare. (Next up: Jan. 29 vs. Maryland)

3. Indiana (15-5, 5-2, PPP: 1.10, PPP Allowed: 1.10) (Last week: 4) … The Hoosiers are a difficult team to stop. With their offensive movement and sheer shooting ability, they have proven they can score against anyone. That was exemplified in their 89-70 blowout of Maryland. The Hoosiers’ issue, however, is their defense. Undersized, they have allowed the league’s worst 2-point shooting percentage, and against Ohio State on Sunday, it allowed the Buckeyes to spread the floor, as well — leading to 82 Buckeyes points and the Hoosiers’ second loss of conference play. (Next up: Jan. 28 at Purdue; Jan. 31 vs. Rutgers)

2. Maryland (18-3, 6-2, PPP: 1.02, PPP Allowed: .98) (Last week: 1) It was a letdown week in College Park that was rescued by late-game Dez Wells heroics on Sunday. Away from home, in Indiana the Terrapins’ No. 1 defense in league play was torn apart by a scorching Hoosiers’ offense. And against lowly Northwestern on Sunday, the Terps needed a double-digit comeback in the final four minutes and a Wells offensive board and layup with 1.4 seconds remaining to steal a win at home. Luckily for the Terrapins, though, they remain No. 2 in the Big Ten standings just a half game behind Wisconsin. (Next up: Jan. 29 at Ohio State)

1. Wisconsin (18-2, 6-1, PPP: 1.26, PPP Allowed: 1.03) (Last week: 2) By no means are the Badgers perfect, but they continue to win. And they did it in two completely different ways this past week. Against Iowa, the Badgers dominated the Hawkeyes on the boards and from the field and won by 32 points. At Michigan, they had to grind out a win in overtime. And now seven games in, the Badgers find themselves alone at the top of the Big Ten. (Next up: Jan. 31 at Iowa)

(Photo: Teresa Mathew of UMHoops)

Filed to: