Big Ten Power Rankings – January 8
1. MICHIGAN (15-0, 2-0 Big Ten) – With one week of Big Ten play completed, it’s still too early to determine much, but one thing is for certain, Michigan is scary good. With no major weaknesses, outstanding play from upperclassmen and with a group of freshmen that continue to get better while contributing major minutes, the Wolverines are the easy pick for the top spot. Two conference games and two 28 point victories. Blowing out Northwestern without their top 2 scorers was expected. But shooting 58% against Iowa en route to 96 points against a Hawkeye team that had held opponents to 38% and 61 points per game was incredible. This team is not only a favorite to win the conference but also to make the Final Four. Trey Burke clearly made the right decision to return for his sophomore season. Burke is not only distributing the ball with more care and precision, but he has also increased his shooting percentage from 43% to 53%.
2. INDIANA (14-1, 2-0) – The Hoosiers took care of business this week, winning both games, on the road at Iowa and against Penn State. Only one game this week for the fifth ranked Hoosiers, a top 10 matchup against the surprising Golden Gophers. Preseason National Player of the Year candidate Cody Zeller is 2nd in the Big Ten in rebounding and 4th in scoring.
3. MINNESOTA (13-1, 2-0) – The biggest surprise out of the Big Ten has been the play of the Gophers. Minnesota’s currently ranked in the top ten for the first time since 1981 and their only loss came against current #1 Duke. The Gophers looked for real against Michigan State in their Big Ten Opener; however, the next three games for the Gophers will be the real test (@ Illinois, @ Indiana, vs. Michigan)
4. ILLINOIS (14-2, 1-1) – This spot might be a little high for the Illini and don’t expect them to be among the top four for long. After dropping their opener against Purdue, Illinois rolled over the Buckeyes in a game that was never close. We’ll see where they stand after Wednesday’s matchup against Minnesota. No team in the Big Ten relies more on the 3-pointer, than Illinois. 43% of their field goal attempts have come from behind the arc.
5. OHIO STATE (11-3, 1-1) – The Buckeyes will have a great opportunity to move up in the rankings with a home game against Michigan on Sunday. OSU hasn’t lost to the Wolverines in Columbus since 2003. Deshaun Thomas continues to lead the Big Ten in scoring (20.2 per game)
6. WISCONSIN (11-4, 2-0) – Wins over arguable the two worst teams in the Big Ten doesn’t mean much in these rankings. However, the Badgers D is allowing the fewest points in the Big Ten and committing the fewest turnovers.
7. MICHIGAN STATE (12-3, 1-1) – The Spartans won’t stay this low for long. MSU had a nice bounce back win against Purdue after falling at Minnesota. A win at Iowa on Wednesday and the Spartans will be back in the top half of the Big Ten.
8. IOWA (11-4, 0-2) – Opening Big Ten play against Indiana and Michigan was brutal for the Hawkeyes. Michigan made them look really bad, but the Wolverines are going to do that to a lot of teams this year.
9. PURDUE (7-7, 1-1) – A nice win against Illinois, and bad loss against Michigan State, lands the Boilermakers at nine. More performances like the one at MSU and Purdue is going to struggle to make it to the NCAA Tourney this year.
10. NORTHWESTERN (9-6, 0-2) – Just like Iowa, the Wildcats faced two of the better teams in the Big Ten (Michigan and Minnesota) and dropped both of them. Head Coach Bill Carmody has said that the Wildcats are one to two years away from making the NCAA Tournament. If Drew Crawford can return from injury, the Wildcats have an outside shot to making it to the Tournament for the first time in school history.
11. PENN STATE (8-6, 0-2) – Penn State is bad.
12. NEBRASKA (9-6, 0-2) – Nebraska might be worse.