Big Ten Power Rankings: February 20

  • 02/20/2017 8:50 am in

Two weeks of regular season play remain, and there is still plenty at stake in the Big Ten.

The race for the regular season crown is likely down to just Wisconsin and Purdue, while the middle of the conference remains a mess. Just 3.5 games separate fifth place (Minnesota, 8-6) from thirteenth (Ohio State, 5-10).

Here’s a look at where each team stands after eight weeks of conference play:

14. Rutgers (13-15, 2-13; 0.87 points per possession, 1.04 points per possession allowed; KenPom – 126, Sagarin – 124, RPI – 153) (Last Week: 14)

Once again, the Scarlet Knights came close to an upset win. On Saturday, Rutgers led Northwestern in Evanston for most of the second half. But a Bryant McIntosh three with one minute remaining gave the Wildcats the lead for good. Rutgers is now a lock to finish last in the conference, but the foundation is being built for future success.

13. Ohio State (15-13, 5-10; 1.03 PPP, 1.08 PPP allowed; KenPom – 65, Sagarin – 59, RPI – 81) (Last Week: 11)

The Buckeyes tumultuous campaign has sunk to a new low. After falling at home to Nebraska, the Buckeyes will finish the conference schedule below .500 for the first time in 13 seasons under Thad Matta.

12. Illinois (15-12, 5-9; 1.00 PPP, 1.08 PPP allowed; KenPom – 72, Sagarin – 70, RPI – 67) (Last Week: 13)

Behind a monster effort from senior Malcolm Hill (21 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals) the Fighting Illini picked up their second consecutive road win with a victory at Iowa. On Tuesday, Illinois will host Northwestern, where a win would give them the season sweep over the Wildcats.

11. Indiana (15-12, 5-9; 1.07 PPP, 1.10 PPP allowed; KenPom – 45, Sagarin – 31, RPI – 90) (Last Week: 10)

Indiana nearly ended their losing streak last Wednesday, but an inability to grab a loose ball in the waning seconds in Minneapolis doomed the Hoosiers. The Hoosiers now are not only on the outside of the NCAA Tournament picture, but find themselves needing wins just to avoid playing in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament.

10. Iowa (14-13, 6-8; 1.02 PPP, 1.07 PPP allowed; KenPom – 78, Sagarin – 71, RPI – 119) (Last Week: 9)

The Hawkeyes again lost to Illinois, giving the Illini their first sweep of the series since 2011. Iowa has now lost three straight and six of their last nine. Desperation will be in the air when the Hawkeyes host Indiana on Tuesday, with each needing a win to stop the bleeding.

9. Penn State (14-13, 6-8; 0.97 PPP, 1.02 PPP allowed; KenPom – 80, Sagarin – 77, RPI – 74) (Last Week: 8)

The Nittany Lions’ two-game winning streak came to an abrupt end in Lincoln on Tuesday. Penn State allowed Nebraska to score at a rate of 1.15 PPP and never led in the contest. Penn State will be the underdog in three of their final four. That includes their upcoming contest in State College Tuesday, where KenPom gives them just a 22 percent chance at pulling off an upset over Purdue.

8. Nebraska (12-14, 6-8; 1.03 PPP, 1.06 PPP allowed; KenPom – 79, Sagarin – 80, RPI – 75) (Last Week: 12)

Ever since the return of big man Ed Morrow on Feb. 9, the Cornhuskers have been playing with a renewed spirit. Nebraska had a 2-0 week for the first time since the beginning of the conference season. On Saturday the Cornhuskers downed Ohio State in Columbus for the first time in program history.

7. Michigan State (16-11, 8-6; 1.03 PPP, 1.02 PPP allowed; KenPom – 53, Sagarin – 44, RPI – 43) (Last Week: 6)

It was a rough week for the Spartans. After a home win over Ohio State on Tuesday, MSU was crushed by Purdue in West Lafayette. The Spartans were dealt a huge blow in the loss when senior Eron Harris was carted off the floor after going down with a knee injury. Harris, the most consistent contributor of the three seniors in MSU’s rotation, will miss the remainder of the season.

6. Michigan (17-10, 7-7; 1.14 PPP, 1.09 PPP allowed; KenPom – 27, Sagarin – 27, RPI – 55) (Last Week: 5)

Michigan had a rollercoaster week on the bubble. It started on Thursday with a resume-building home win over Wisconsin and ended Sunday in Minneapolis, where the Wolverines fell in overtime. One of the best teams in the country at avoiding foul trouble, the Wolverines were called for 28 fouls in the loss (27 personals, one technical), the most in the John Beilein era. Of legitimate cause for concern, though, is that Michigan was manhandled inside. The Wolverines allowed Minnesota to grab 10 more offensive rebounds and score 19 more second chance points.

5. Minnesota (20-7, 8-6; 1.02 PPP, 1.00 PPP allowed; KenPom – 39, Sagarin – 38, RPI – 23) (Last Week: 7)

For the first time in Richard Pitino’s four seasons in Minnesota, the Gophers will finish the regular season with at least 20 wins. The suddenly red-hot Gophers have won five straight and are undefeated in February. Next up, Minnesota heads to College Park, where they’ll have a chance to down the last team to beat them.

4. Northwestern (20-7, 9-5; 1.05 PPP, 1.00 PPP allowed) (KenPom – 33, Sagarin – 34, RPI – 37) (Last Week: 4)

The Wildcats were grateful to see the return of Scottie Lindsey (mononucleosis) over the weekend, as they posted a dreadful 1-3 record in his absence. The junior didn’t do anything special in his first game back (6 points and 4 assists in 24 minutes), but he’ll be crucial for Northwestern as they begin a two-game road trip needing victories to solidify a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament.

3. Maryland (22-5, 10-4; 1.08 PPP, 1.01 PPP allowed; KenPom – 31, Sagarin – 33, RPI – 19) (Last Week: 3)

Melo Trimble played his part on Sunday, scoring 27 points and adding five rebounds, but the Terrapins were unable to hang with the Badgers in Wisconsin. Besides Trimble, not a single Terrapin scored more than ten points, and only two made at least two field goals (Kevin Huerter and Michal Cekovsky). Maryland is now on the outside of the title hunt, but a favorable schedule for the final stretch should give them momentum going into the postseason.

2. Wisconsin (22-5, 11-3; 1.06 PPP, 0.95 PPP allowed; KenPom – 15, Sagarin – 13, RPI– 24) (Last Week: 2)

After enduring their first losing streak in over a calendar year, the Badgers managed to keep pace in the race for the Big Ten title by holding off the Terrapins on Sunday. Bronson Koenig, who missed the Michigan loss with a strained calf, scored nine points in 31 minutes in the win. But the catalyst, as always, was Ethan Happ. The sophomore leads the Badgers in all five major statistical categories, and on Sunday, posted a ludicrous line of 20 points, seven rebounds, five steals, three assists and two blocks.

1. Purdue (22-5, 11-3; 1.11 PPP, 0.97 PPP allowed; KenPom – 11, Sagarin – 11, RPI – 21) (Last Week: 1)

The Boilermakers took care of business this past week, dispatching Rutgers and Michigan State by a combined 36 points. Purdue will go into each of their final four contests as the favorite, with their toughest test likely coming in Ann Arbor next Saturday. Make it through that game unscathed, and a share of the Big Ten crown is one step closer to becoming reality.

Filed to:

  • The biggest (i.e., most common and consistent) knock against CTC seems to be a lack of focus on fundamentals. If that’s true, then that would be something seriously wrong with CTC’s coaching philosophy.

  • Fifer39

    Yeah, not disagreeing. But my point is that nobody was really missing the fundamentals in all those wins over top 3 ranked teams over the last few years. TCs offensive ‘philosophy’ was enough to overcome those deficiencies. Is it a recipe for sustained improvement and success however? No, it’s not.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Mark, hello. Your comment about injuries is right on. Somehow my gut feeling is telling me we might be in danger of “badness”. I never thought that before (please believe me on that) but to many variables might be catching up. Not recruiting in state, players leaving,,,,and yes bad fundamental play is a killer. I will never question his desire to win and succeed. He is a great person and I am afraid that his tenure at IU may be close to ending.

  • Apoc

    Elite eight….that is a term that hasn’t been used in the same sentence as something dealing with IU in quite some time…

  • Sure, but in truth it represents just one more tournament win than the Sweet Sixteen, and it’s just as far from a championship.

  • Apoc

    One win that, in all honesty, IU hasn’t even come close to touching, as they have been blown out in every sweet 16 appearance. And elite 8 is a big difference due to less rest/quick turnaround, allowing raw talent to make up for a lack of preparation.

  • Also true. Now, one could argue that last season’s Sweet Sixteen game with UNC should have been an Elite Eight game, and the UK game a Sweet Sixteen and not a round of 32. But it doesn’t matter at this point, of course.

  • Apoc

    It’s a rough year all around. I’m almost more worried about what happens next year…unless a miracle happens during the off-season, next year looks like it could possibly be worse…

  • iugradmark

    Mark, I appreciate your passion and your belief in OG. For me, I am not as confident as you about his impact on this team.

    Of course I would want him playing and healthy. Early on before we saw him play much, there were a lot of projections about his leap but due to injuries, illness, etc. I didn’t see enough games to know whether he would be a consistent performer this year or not. Based on early play, I never thought RoJo would play the way he is playing now so the only way to know would be to have had the season play out differently.

    I will admit that in addition to his health, some of his early play was impacted by playing out at the 3 point line, etc. which is a typical use of bigs by Crean. Unfortunately I don’t think he would have changed our poor ball handling decisions since the ball isn’t in his hands that much. The first few games the whole team looked good but now, not so much. OG seems to be a quiet man and I think the main issue with this team besides coaching style is the lack of a great point guard and leader. Yogi covered up a lot of problems with the Crean system and we don’t have his replacement.

  • Ms hoosier

    If it come to that point to where IU looks for another coach. I do like Dane but I would really like to see Chris Collins get an offer for the job!!

  • Ms hoosier

    It really hurts!!! IU fans really deserve better. I think we are the best fans in the country!!

  • Arch Puddington

    There IS something wrong with his philosophy. We have both heard from the media and seen for ourselves that he does not attend to defense as thoroughly as other coaches. His offensive scheme, which is what I think you really meant, may be modern, but there is nothing modern about failing to properly teach defense. Even other disciples of the dribble drive — John Calipari, Tom Izzo, Bill Self — are among the best defensive coaches in the nation.

    Other aspects of his philosophy that we now know are problematic:

    1. An emphasis on long, athletic players at the expense of players who are fundamentally sound.
    2. Perhaps related, an emphasis on recruiting DC and the east coast at (arguably) the expense of Indiana recruiting.
    3. A massive playbook accompanied by a frenetic, micro-managing approach to game play, famously long practices (although ostensibly shorter than they used to be), and a blizzard of details at every turn.

    It’s piling on, I suppose, but 9 years in, this is what his philosophy looks like to me. As you say, there have been some great moments, but it is not sustainable. Too many things have to go right, and as you also say, there is no plan B.

  • I’m basing my assertion on a couple of things. First, the only games we played with a 100% healthy OG were the first five games excluding the IPFW game (when OG was sick). We were 4-0 in those games, including wins over KU and UNC. Our play at PSU before OG was hurt again, and as he was starting to return to form, was also much stronger. I think OG had seven steals and two blocks in that game before he went out. Second, games changed completely last season when OG came in off the bench. It was palpable.

    Bottom line is, OG was an incredibly disruptive force on defense, and he was turning into a game-changer on offense as well. This was simply a different team when OG was healthy and playing like himself. I’m not saying the team would have necessarily done great things with a healthy OG, but I’m pretty darn sure that _without_ a healthy OG the ceiling would have been far lower.

    Of course, this is all academic and just something to noodle while we wait out the rest of the season and see what happens with CTC and the program. It doesn’t matter the tiniest little bit other than giving us something to speculate about.

  • Fifer39

    I think the 3 points you make are more to do with how he seeks to implement his philosophy rather than what defines it. Absolutely agree about the defensive coaching deficiencies but the point (made many times) is that it is just not as valued in TCs system.

    When his legacy is evaluated – which realistically needs the objectivity that only a decent passage of time will allow – I think it will be more than just leading the program back from a moral abyss. That said, I’m not maintaining that, at this point, the philosophy is anything other than fools gold.

  • iugradmark

    Agree that it helps pass the time away. I am just saying I can’t tell much from 5 early season games. Freshman looked great, guards were playing pretty well, etc. In short, I saw things I liked from a lot of players but what generally happens is that teams you play improve, use film, and begin to take away things from you. This is especially true in league play.

    I think our free style play is one of the things that hurts us down the stretch as most team just won’t let you play that way. They slow things down, bang, take advantage and punish you if you turnover the ball, cause mismatches and foul situations. It is all part of how the season progresses and most years, we seem to be plateauing or on a downward slide. Last year was the exception for me. I hope OG recovers and comes back so we can see what he is capable of but if we don’t solve our other problems, he won’t make the difference and he is no way more important than Alan Henderson was to that team.

  • I think this team basically fell apart when OG, and the JM and JBJ, were hurt. Without a strong leader (such as a floor general like Yogi), I think everything had to be going perfectly well or things would just fall apart. In terms of the defense, I do think OG was just that good that he could make up for other deficiencies. I do disagree about OG’s importance to this team vs. Henderson’s importance to that team. But regardless, it’s hard not to argue the affect a vital player can have on a team.

  • BC

    A name I haven’t thought of until today… Bo Ryan

  • IUBizmark

    I want Archie Miller and I want him for next season.

    Others have floated Scott Drew, Chris Mack or Will Wade.

    When What’supKnight talks about THE guy, I think we all know who that is (Brad Stevens) and while Glass should make that call, he should know there’s about a 5% chance that’s actually going to happen. Billy Donovan is another pipe dream.

  • vicbert caladipo

    There is a huge difference in OG and AH injuries. The possibilities of something huge favors the Henderson injury being bigger, but the bigger injury as far as the impact it made on the team is far greater for OG. AH had a lot of other great players on the team. We had Calbert and Bailey. This years team has nobody close to their caliber. Losing OG basically took away a huge part of everything. This current team could not afford to lose anybody. There just isn’t enough experienced talent as 93 and we also had a better coach.

  • Exactly. And even with all of that other talent (and far, far more experience than this year’s team), and with RMK at the helm, the ’93 team couldn’t make it past the Elite Eight. Losing OG meant that even with good coaching, this team’s ceiling was going to be something much less than a championship.

  • pcantidote

    I really like the fact that Fife is a Knight Izzo hybrid.

  • I’m very worried about next season. If OG, TB, and JBJ do leave, then it’ll take some seriously fine coaching for the season to be anything better than decent.

  • pcantidote

    I disagree. That 93 team was solid but it was very thin in the front court. Beyond Henderson it was really only Nover that was a true post player. It was a devastating injury to the team.

  • faithfulfan86

    Would IU be a promotion for Tony Bennett from Virginia? Best defense in the nation. Pretty solid recruiter.