Big Ten Power Rankings: February 29

  • 02/29/2016 8:02 am in

The Inside the Hall Big Ten Power Rankings are back following the ninth week of conference play and Indiana has clinched at least a share of the regular season league crown. Here’s a look at where each team stands after the ninth week of Big Ten play (Note: Points per possession numbers in parenthesis are for conference games only):

14. Rutgers (6-23, 0-16, .90 points per possession, 1.21 points per possession allowed) … Can Eddie Jordan survive this season? I don’t see how. Rutgers last hope for a win (realistically – it isn’t beating Michigan State) is at home against Minnesota.

13. Minnesota (8-20, 2-14, .97 points per possession, 1.09 points per possession allowed) … Minnesota beat Rutgers and lost to Illinois. Sounds about right. Rough season for Richard Pitino and company, whose team plays Wisconsin at home and at Rutgers to close the season.

12. Illinois (13-16, 5-11, .98 points per possession, 1.07 points per possession allowed) … The Fighting Illini played well for a half against Indiana before getting demolished and came back to beat a shorthanded Minnesota. Road games at Maryland and Penn State to close the season for John Groce’s club.

11. Nebraska (14-15, 6-10, 1.08 points per possession, 1.07 points per possession allowed) … Nebraska has had a rough go recently, losing each of its last two games by three points or less to Ohio State and Penn State. The Cornhuskers will close out the regular season against Purdue and Northwestern.

10. Northwestern (18-11, 6-10, 1.03 points per possession, 1.07 points per possession allowed) … After beating up on Rutgers, Northwestern has a chance to finish the season with 20 wins, which would be quite an accomplishment. It is certainly possible, with Nebraska and Penn State remaining on the slate. An NIT berth could be in the future.

9. Penn State (15-14, 6-10, .96 points per possession, 1.09 points per possession allowed) … The Nittany Lions had their three-game winning streak snapped by Michigan State, but there’s absolutely no shame in that. Two home games are left for Pat Chambers and his team against Northwestern and Illinois. Chambers missed most of the Michigan State game after getting ejected in the first half.

8. Michigan (20-10, 10-7, 1.09 points per possession, 1.08 points per possession allowed) … This is now where the line is drawn between the top and bottom of the conference. Michigan, once a team that appeared a lock for the big dance, will have to earn its way in with either a win over Iowa or two wins in the Big Ten tournament to feel safe. The Wolverines have a better resume than Ohio State, but the Buckeyes have been playing better ball lately, so Michigan takes the eighth spot. U-M is squarely on the bubble.

7. Ohio State (19-11, 11-6, 1.02 points per possession, 1.01 points per possession allowed) … The Buckeyes picked up a tournament chance saving win against Iowa in Columbus Sunday, but are still on the wrong side of the bubble. It will likely take a road win over Michigan State to push them back into the conversation, otherwise the early season losses will kill their chances. It’s teams like Ohio State and Michigan that could provide an upset somewhere along the way in the conference tournament.

6. Iowa (20-8, 11-5, 1.11 points per possession, 1.02 points per possession allowed) … This is where it got tough. Iowa is a team I’ve had in the top three of these rankings all season, but to say the Hawkeyes have hit a rough patch would be generous. They’ve lost four out of five, including their last three games, and two of those losses came to Penn State and Ohio State. Iowa picked a bad time to have a slide. Iowa needs a wins this week against Indiana or Michigan if it wants a chance to share the league title.

5. Maryland (23-6, 11-5, 1.06 points per possession, .99 points per possession allowed) … Like Iowa, Maryland has struggled mightily of late, losing three out of four. The Terps have all this talent, but just haven’t been able to get it together. They look like a team that could get bounced in the first round or run to the Final Four. They get Illinois and a road trip to Assembly Hall to finish the season.

4. Purdue (22-7, 10-6, 1.11 points per possession, 1.03 points per possession allowed) … Purdue has basically just done what its supposed to do: defend home court and lose to good teams on the road. Beating Maryland was impressive and puts them here in the four spot. There’s just something special about playing at home for Indiana teams, as IU and Purdue are a combined 32-1 at its home arenas this season. Nebraska and Wisconsin are the final two regular season games for the Boilermakers.

3. Wisconsin (19-10, 11-5, 1.07 points per possession, 1 point per possession allowed) … The Badgers are still playing really well and are back to their winning ways after beating Iowa on the road and then Michigan at home. No team wants to play Wisconsin right now as the Badgers are rolling under Greg Gard. Wisconsin has won 10 of its last 11 game and closes at Minnesota and Purdue.

2. Indiana (23-6, 13-3, 1.15 points per possession, 1 point per possession allowed) … Indiana clinched at least a share of the Big Ten regular season title Sunday without even having to play. The Hoosiers are playing great basketball and dismantled Illinois without Robert Johnson. IU looks like a top 10-12 team to me and appears to be under-appreciated in bracket projections. I see the Hoosiers as a 3 or 4 seed, but obviously the two enormous games left against Iowa and Maryland will go a long way in determining that. If IU wins either of those games, it will win the conference outright and may be able to take the top spot away from Michigan State in these rankings.

1. Michigan State (24-5, 11-5, 1.17 points per possession, .99 points per possession allowed) … I know, I know, Indiana is 13-3 and Michigan State is 11-5 in conference play. But I think Michigan State is the best team in the country. There’s not a single team I’d take over the Spartans right now. These rankings are based mostly on what team I think is playing the best basketball of late and that’s MSU. Tom Izzo’s squad has the ultimate trump card over every other team too in that it beat Kansas earlier in the year – not to mention it did beat IU. Denzel Valentine would probably be my pick for national player of the year. It’d be fun to see a rematch of the Spartans and Hoosiers in the Big Ten tournament. The Spartans should continue their winning ways this week with games against Rutgers and Ohio State.

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  • Knuckledrager

    I’d like to see us win the B1G tourney because we’ve never won it. It would go well with the B1G title. Go Hoosiers, ya hosers.

  • calbert40

    I don’t think there is a team that anyone can accurately peg as the “best” right now. I think MSU has the best all-around player in the nation and the best coach, so MSU is as good of a bet as any team.

  • dwdkc

    No way I’d take NC in a matchup against MSU right now; MSU is big and strong enough to handle NC’s length and is much tougher. And similar to Virginia but a better shooting team. I think the only team I might take over MSU right now is Kansas, but then we all have recency bias and that obliteration of Texas last night that I watched part of is fresh in the mind.

  • dwdkc

    Seeding matters less this year than any year I remember. I’d like to avoid Kansas early but other than KS and MSU, who IU won’t play until Final 4 in all likelihood, who really looks good now? I just hope they get the favored draw and play in Chicago or Louisville–and get RJ back 100% for the dance.

  • dwdkc

    No way would RJ play, that is a no-brainer. Otherwise you might take Yogi out early unless the game is tight. I don’t think a win in that circumstance is all that critical, even if it helps for seeding. Beat Iowa though and I think the 4 seed is almost assured.

  • dwdkc

    I looked at the schedule and the closest first round locations would be St. Louis and Des Moines (I live in KC, would love for them to go to either). I didn’t think they would already have determined which seeds go where, as they try to geographically favor high seeds which haven’t been determined yet. For the regionals–you definitely want Midwest or South, but if IU is a 4 seed I’d rather go against Villanova in the Sweet 16 than Kansas.

  • dwdkc

    He hasn’t posted in a very long time, last year I guess. Come on back Arch I love your posts and the Forum has been really good lately.

  • dwdkc

    Depth has been hurt in the backcourt without RJ, but otherwise yes we are very deep and will have to guard while playing big a lot of the time (Troy and Collin as wings with 2 bigs). I like that lineup but it can pose some matchup challenges on defense.

  • dwdkc

    Fair point, except I can’t get that 2nd half in East Lansing out of my head. MSU is dominating everyone right now, and then you have Izzo’s late season history. They deserve the hype. I put KU (off of last night’s road obliteration of Texas) and MSU slightly above everyone else right now, but after them IU is one of about 12 teams with as good a shot at the F4 as the rest.

  • dwdkc

    I thought I’ve heard the committee doesn’t use RPI. Except in terms of grouping teams to look at records (i.e. record against top 50, top 100 etc.)

  • Sarasota Hoosier

    Agreed. Your last statement is most important, get RJ back to 100%.

  • Arch Puddington

    Thanks, dwdkc. He was by no means the main reason, more like the last straw. The whole thing had gotten pretty toxic by the end of Vonleh’s season. I was just ready for a change. Maybe I’ll rejoin someday.

  • Bill Graham

    That’s hilarious! The sad thing is it will be like that someday…I mean I wouldn’t mind if it was coach K (who I despise), Ratface, Williams, or Self, but Calpockets never deserves to sit at that table (unfortunately he might be though unless he gets caught soon)- I mean some schools stopped recruiting Skal specifically because they didn’t want to “donate” to his guardians charity…and he ends up at UK…

  • kaponya44

    Yes,they really took that one.That much was clear..Momentum is always big in Breslin, and a game our home court could have led to a reverse of that outcome..We will never know , and I see nothing you said that I would disagree on other than feeling Indiana is still maybe getting undervalued based on the standard of comparison.IU has dealt with injuries ,just like they have,their schedule is arguably not a whole lot more difficult .I feel MSU playing November Kansas and winning convincingly over us at home gives them the nod ,but a lot of people speak as if the gap between the two teams is like the Grand Canyon…

    If you have to play Kansas you want them before December ,especially considering how much they stunk against WSU in the NCAAT..MSU was in a higher place coming off their tourney run and started the season better than in most recent years.Other than U of L ,Kansas ,and maybe Providence, they did not really play anyone decent (Florida is flat out garbage)in OOC..In the B1G Iowa was on the same level as MSU & KU before they left Assembly Hall with that loss..Everyone was basically writing them into the FF….I am simply arguing that two wins over them in late season,now perhaps , gets undervalued because we sent them into that tailspin….We may just have to agree to disagree and let hindsight decide this one.Your point is certainly valid ,but it is arguable.

  • dwdkc

    I’m rooting for your take, believe me!