Big Ten Power Rankings: February 5

  • 02/05/2018 8:46 am in

The Big Ten regular season is heading into the final stretch, with every team already having played at least 11 conference games. While the Big Ten’s elite look like potential NCAA title contenders, the dropoff after is steep. Six teams are ranked sub-90 in KenPom, and five of those have an overall record at or below .500.

14. Rutgers (12-13, 2-10 Big Ten; 0.87 Points Per Possession in conference play, 1.04 PPP allowed; KenPom – 138, Sagarin – 123, RPI – 195) (Last week: 13)

The Scarlet Knights nearly pulled off the upset of the Big Ten season, but ultimately fell two points short of a victory over Purdue. Corey Sanders finished with 31 points in the loss. Unless they turn things around fast, they’ll be playing on Wednesday of the Big Ten tournament for the fourth straight year.

13. Illinois (12-12, 2-9; 1.01 PPP, 1.07 PPP allowed; KenPom – 94, Sagarin – 75, RPI – 159) (Last week: 14)

Illinois picked up their second win in two weeks, dispatching Rutgers by 31 points on Tuesday. Five days later in Columbus, the Illini were within one possession of Ohio State late before fading down the stretch. Freshman guard Trent Frazier has shined over the past few months, scoring in double figures in 13 of the last 14 games.

12. Iowa (12-13, 3-9; 1.08 PPP, 1.18 PPP allowed; KenPom – 103, Sagarin – 81, RPI – 148) (Last week: 12)

Fran McCaffery seemingly had his Hawkeyes moving in the right direction after a 14-point home win over Minnesota, but the follow-up act was a brutal 24-point defeat in State College on Saturday. The Nittany Lions shredded Iowa’s bottom of the Big Ten defense to the tune of 1.21 points per possession.

11. Wisconsin (10-15, 3-9; 0.97 PPP, 1.08 PPP allowed; KenPom – 95, Sagarin – 79, RPI – 157) (Last week: 11)

Time has run out on the Badgers, who almost certainly won’t be making their 20th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance. Wisconsin has lost eight of their last nine and Ethan Happ was invisible down the stretch in Sunday’s loss to Maryland.

10. Minnesota (14-11, 3-9; 0.99 PPP, 1.08 PPP allowed; KenPom – 90, Sagarin – 64, RPI – 118) (Last week: 10)

Severely depleted, the Gophers used just seven players in Ann Arbor on Saturday and still nearly toppled Michigan. A lack of late game execution, however, once again proved costly. In the game’s final minutes, Minnesota looked clueless on defense and seemed confused by Michigan’s zone on the other end.

9. Indiana (12-12, 5-7; 0.98 PPP, 1.03 PPP allowed; KenPom – 92, Sagarin – 72, RPI – 119) (Last week: 9)

Close isn’t good enough for the Hoosiers, who dropped a contentious home contest to a top five team late for the third time this year. Indiana’s senior backcourt was a non-factor offensively in the defeat to Michigan State as Josh Newkirk and Robert Johnson combined to shoot 2-of-21 from the floor.

8. Maryland (16-9, 5-7; 1.09 PPP, 1.13 PPP allowed; KenPom – 39, Sagarin –35, RPI – 55) (Last week: 7)

The Terrapins three-game skid came to an end as they managed to hold off Wisconsin to secure a much-needed home victory. Maryland doesn’t have many chances left for resume-building wins, but they do have a favorable late-season schedule, with only one game left against a KenPom top-50 team (Michigan).

7. Northwestern (14-10, 5-6; 0.99 PPP, 1.02 PPP allowed; KenPom –76, Sagarin – 53, RPI – 96) (Last week: 8)

After a series of poor performances in the first half of the season, the Wildcats are doing their best to try to pick up the pieces, having won three of their last four. Junior Dererk Pardon connected on all eight of his field goal attempts in a Thursday night win over Wisconsin and is now shooting 63 percent from the floor for the season.

6. Penn State (16-9, 6-6; 1.05 PPP, 1.02 PPP allowed; KenPom – 44, Sagarin – 46, RPI – 103) (Last week: 6)

Pat Chambers’ club blew a golden opportunity to pick up a second road win over an elite team in as many weeks but choked away a 12-point second half lead to Michigan State. Sophomore Tony Carr, the hero against Ohio State, was just 9-of-24 from the field in the loss.

5. Nebraska (17-8, 8-4; 1.03 PPP, 0.98 PPP allowed; KenPom – 61, Sagarin – 60, RPI – 57) (Last week: 5)

Junior James Palmer continues to play at an All-Big Ten level as the Cornhuskers have now won three straight. The sharpshooter is averaging 24.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block per contest over the streak. Upcoming matchups against Minnesota and Rutgers will provide Palmer to continue to display his offensive arsenal.

4. Michigan (19-6, 8-4; 1.08 PPP, 1.03 PPP allowed; KenPom – 24, Sagarin – 21, RPI – 31) (Last week: 4)

A 12-of-28 afternoon from the foul line nearly doomed the Wolverines, but they still managed to survive an upset bid from Minnesota. Michigan is comfortably in the NCAA tournament field but will likely have to avoid slip-ups on the road this week at Northwestern and Wisconsin if they don’t want to fall into bubble territory.

3. Michigan State (22-3, 10-2; 1.13 PPP, 0.98 PPP allowed; KenPom – 6, Sagarin – 4, RPI – 21) (Last week: 3)

The Spartans thwarted a pair of potential upsets, holding off Penn State and Indiana. Michigan State has now won three straight, but there are signs of concern in East Lansing. A 25-to-3 disadvantage to Indiana on the offensive glass had Tom Izzo furious at his team’s lack of effort.

2. Ohio State (20-5, 11-1; 1.17 PPP, 0.97 PPP allowed; KenPom – 14, Sagarin – 24, RPI – 20) (Last week: 2)

Keita Bates-Diop has continued his remarkable junior campaign and looks to be the odds-on favorite to take home conference Player of the Year honors. In a Sunday win over Illinois, Bates-Diop collected 35 points, 13 rebounds and an assist. The other development on Sunday wasn’t as postive, as senior Kam Williams was suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules.

1. Purdue (23-2, 12-0; 1.20 PPP, 1.00 PPP allowed; KenPom – 3, Sagarin – 2, RPI – 7) (Last week: 1)

The Boilermakers are still undefeated in Big Ten play after skirting by the Scarlet Knights. Purdue’s next two challenges should prove to be the toughest of the conference season, with dates looming against Ohio State (Wednesday) and at Michigan State (Saturday).

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  • TomJameson

    Oh, if we could only learn to shoot. A couple of percentage points higher, or even a return to last years shooting averages, we’d be winning some of those close ones.

    *big sigh*

  • The Wisconsin and Illinois games really hurt us, if we can win 4-5 of our last 6 and at least one game in tournament i would consider it a successful season, not worried about ncaa tourney but would like to see us make nit.

  • vicbert caladipo

    Interesting picture on this article. Would love to know what is being said between Juwan and Ward…..

    Ward: Hey man….you should get some ink man. Make you look tough like me
    Juwan: I’m cool….don’t need ink to feel tough…I am tough….you don’t remember
    how I played a full season with a separated shoulder?

    Ward: Was I the one who injured you?

    Juwan: Nah…that was before you got here but that shove in the back in East Lansing
    wasn’t too cool.

    Ward: Yeah dat was fun

    Juwan: How do you afford all that ink anyway?

    Ward: Izz got an artist on staff. Like yo team has that cat from purdue who cuts yo hair

    Juwan: I see

  • Arch Puddington

    I am not quite sold on either Purdue nor Michigan State as the Final Four favorites they are purported to be. I don’t mean it will be some kind of fluke if one of them makes it (it won’t be), but Purdue isn’t very athletic, and while Michigan State seems to have all the physical pieces one could ask for, the whole somehow seems less than the sum of the parts. I am actually rooting for both, because I think it is good for IU when the B1G is good. But in the tournament I think Purdue will have to get the right matchups — an athletic but lower-seeded team like Kentucky could give them fits — and Michigan State is going to have to gel more fully than they have so far. Their upcoming matchup will be revealing for both. Can Purdue keep up with Michigan State’s athleticism? Can Michigan State compete with Purdue’s cohesiveness and maturity? Should be a fun game to watch.

  • CincyHoosier06

    Green: Hmmm maybe if I blow on my hand I’ll start shooting like I did against Ohio St.

  • Colt

    I can see them both getting to Final Four. They both can score inside and outside. They rebound and play solid defense.

  • Arch Puddington

    All true, but something nags at me about both of them. One thing to their advantage is that there don’t seem to be any really dominant teams this year, so even if by historical standards they aren’t quite what you might expect from a Final Four favorite, there probably aren’t that many better teams this year.

  • ImYourHuckleberry

    I agree. Purdue has been dominant but I think an athletic team with stretch bigs tire out Haas and he’ll become foul prone. They also rely heavily on the three (they have a lot of guys that can stroke it) but if it’s not falling that hinders their offense. Maturity and senior leadership are on their side. They don’t get rattled easily.

    MSU is a very talented team. They are very deep, long, and extremely athletic. Perfect recipe for a deep run. My only knock on them is their youth and they tend to be turnover prone. Also, I feel like their big stars take some plays off.

  • IdahoHoosier

    I’m with you Arch. I wouldn’t be surprised if one or both made Elite 8 or Final 4, but it will be very match-up dependent (as it is with a LOT of teams). Heck, even a scrappy IU team that can’t shoot showed some weaknesses in PU and MSU. As always, I hope the B1G as a whole has a good showing in the tourney, even if there are only 4-5 teams that get in.

  • IdahoHoosier

    It looks like someone edited out Green’s pipe in that picture.

  • Arch Puddington

    MSU has two double-digit losses and a couple of really uninspiring victories over bad teams. As Izzo himself said, the physical beat-down we gave them was among the worst one of his teams has experienced. If it were just one game, there wouldn’t be much to make of it. But given some of their other lackluster performances, they just don’t seem to have the same fire and cohesiveness that great teams have. Granted, I haven’t seen them much, so I could be wrong. Kenpom has them 6th, so obviously they are very good.

  • EarlGreyTeaBag

    Remember way back in 2016 when Robject Johnson shot 45% from 3pt range? It’s hard to believe it’s the same guy.

  • Arch Puddington

    I ALWAYS root for the B1G in the tournament, and I am glad to see Holtman doing so well at OSU. The more glamour teams there are on our schedule, and the more high-profile games we play in, the better.

  • TomJameson

    He puts an awful lot of energy into his defense, but I’m not giving in to that excuse … at least not all the way. From this game forward, the team really needs to pick up their offense. To be able to pick up the offense without missing a beat on defense, could be a little tricky.

  • Colt

    What do you guys think about Virginia? I think what they do on defense is pretty amazing these days.

  • Arch Puddington

    They are the gold standard in defense, as far as I can tell. Suffocating, aggravating, relentless pressure, and they do it year after year. Having said that, I am not a fan of the approach as a whole. Bennett’s determination to limit possessions does not suit me personally. Not only does it work against the beauty and athleticism of the game, to me it just seems like control-freak stuff. Maybe I’d like it more if I saw it regularly or rooted for the program, but from where I sit, no thanks.

  • Ivan Renko

    love your speculated conversation.

    it probably went something more like this though:

    Juwan: “these refs are god-awful”

    Ward: “yes they are, not sure how i got away tackling half your team without a foul call”

    *both chuckle incredulously*

  • Colt

    I checked some UVA stats. They are holding teams to 37% shooting and only 29% from 3. That is really good.

    I think I have a good shot at the Final Four based on this fact alone. Most teams don’t face defense like this.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Rarely do I disagree with the power ranking columns,,,however IU shouldn’t be below Northwestern. IU blew them out early in the game.