Big Ten Power Rankings: February 1
The Inside the Hall Big Ten Power Rankings are back following the fifth week of conference play and there are once again shakeups in the league’s pecking order. Here’s a look at where each team stands after the fifth week of Big Ten play (Note: Points per possession numbers in parenthesis are for conference games only):
14. Rutgers (6-16, 0-9, .90 points per possession, 1.25 points per possession allowed) … Rutgers only lost to Michigan by 11 last week, so that’s a positive right?
13. Minnesota (6-16, 0-10, .94 points per possession, 1.11 points per possession allowed) … The Golden Gophers last five losses have each been by seven points or less, so there’s an argument to made that this group is improving. But there’s simply not enough talent and too much youth for Minnesota to win right now.
12. Illinois (10-12, 2-7, .96 points per possession, 1.08 points per possession allowed) … Illinois is another team that is a threat to pull off an upset, but isn’t winning much otherwise. Purdue is the lone good win Illinois has, but John Groce should get a win this week at Rutgers. The Illini will then host Iowa on Saturday.
11. Penn State (11-11, 2-7, .97 points per possession, 1.12 points per possession allowed) … Penn State came back to make its game against Michigan at Madison Square Garden look close, but it really wasn’t. The Nittany Lions, losers of three straight, will have a tough week ahead as they travel to Iowa before hosting Indiana.
10. Northwestern (15-8, 3-7, .97 points per possession, 1.08 points per possession allowed) … Five straight losses means that Northwestern’s chances to make the big dance are pretty much gone, but that doesn’t mean the Wildcats don’t have a shot at the NIT. Northwestern whiffed on all four of its recent games against ranked opponents, and finally gets a bottom-feeder when it plays host to Minnesota this week.
9. Nebraska (12-10, 4-5, 1.13 points per possession, 1.11 points per possession allowed) … Nebraska followed up its win over Michigan State with double-digit losses to Michigan and Purdue. Andrew White is doing everything for the Cornhuskers, averaging 17 points and six rebounds a game. Home dates with Maryland and Rutgers await the Huskers this week.
8. Ohio State (14-9, 6-4, .99 points per possession, .99 points per possession allowed) … An absolutely huge game against Wisconsin awaits the Buckeyes this week. For either team to be able to cling to any NCAA tournament hopes, it is a must win. Ohio State will have the disadvantage of having to go to the Kohl Center, a tough place to place as Indiana found out.
7. Wisconsin (13-9, 5-4, 1.04 points per possession, 1 point per possession allowed) … The Badgers are on fire. They’ve won four straight, including wins over Indiana and Michigan State. And the next two games are also winnable: Ohio State and Nebraska, both at home. All of a sudden Wisconsin has started to give its fans hope that with continued success, the Big Ten could get a seventh bid to the dance. That’s how big its win over IU was. Ethan Happ and Nigel Hayes are matchup nightmares for most teams, and Greg Gard has become more comfortable with his new role as head coach. The Badgers are a team to keep an eye on.
6. Purdue (19-4, 7-3, 1.13 points per possession, 1 point per possession allowed) … When Purdue is the sixth best team through five weeks, you know the top of the league is strong. The Boilermakers did exactly what they needed to this past week, getting wins against Minnesota and Nebraska. Now, they will travel to Maryland to attempt to knock off the Terrapins. It’s the start of an important three-game stretch, as after Maryland, Purdue will face Michigan State and Michigan.
5. Michigan (17-5, 7-2, 1.13 points per possession, 1.06 points per possession allowed) … John Beilein has done an incredible job with this team, which is still playing without Caris LeVert. There’s a possibility LeVert comes back this week, and if he does: watch out. Derrick Walton is one of the better point guards in the conference, and will get an opportunity to duke it out with Yogi Ferrell on Tuesday.
4. Michigan State (19-4, 6-4, 1.14 points per possession, .99 points per possession allowed) … Yeah, the Spartans are fine. They beat Maryland to break out of their losing streak and promptly dismantled Northwestern and Rutgers by a combined 65 points. They could be the best team in the Big Ten, but those four losses are going to make it difficult for the Spartans to win the league. The next three games for Tom Izzo’s squad: Michigan, Purdue and Indiana.
3. Indiana (18-4, 8-1, 1.14 points per possession, .95 points per possession allowed) … The Hoosiers had their winning streak snapped on the road in Wisconsin. While the Badgers aren’t as good as years past, it was not a bad loss. Just ask Michigan State. The team’s schedule has them in a position to stay in the conference title race for the rest of the season, and we will start to learn more about IU when it goes to Ann Arbor for its toughest test of Big Ten play to date.
2. Maryland (19-3, 8-2, 1.08 points per possession, .96 points per possession allowed) … Maryland got its biggest win of the season against Iowa, but having two losses in conference keeps them at two in these rankings. I’d even be fine with saying 1a and 1b. Unfortunately for fans, the two teams won’t meet again in the regular season. Nebraska and Purdue are on the slate for the Terrapins this week.
1. Iowa (18-4, 8-1, 1.15 points per possession, 1 point per possession allowed) … There’s just something I like about this Iowa team. Jared Uthoff is a star, averaging over 18 points a game and Peter Jok has come on strong as well. Following its road loss to Maryland, the Hawkeyes took care of Northwestern and will now take on Penn State and Illinois before a showdown against Indiana at Assembly Hall. Depending on how IU fares over its next two, that game could have major implications in the race for the Big Ten title.
Filed to: Big Ten Power Rankings