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Ranking the B1G: A New Face At The Top

After Michigan State’s loss to Duke, Purdue takes over the No. 1 spot.

NCAA Basketball: Indiana State at Indiana Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

In one of the biggest games of the week, Michigan State battled with Duke for the entire 40 minutes. Duke came out on top late, which makes them drop a spot in favor of undefeated Purdue.

1) Purdue Boilermakers (Last Week: 2)

Previously: W at Marquette 86-71, W vs Fairfield 106-64

Purdue’s length was too much for Marquette, and the Boilermakers used it to slowly grind out the Golden Eagles into an insurmountable lead. Isaac Haas had 22 points for Purdue, with four others contributing in double digits.

Up Next: vs Tennessee (Wed)

2) Michigan State Spartans (LW: 1)

Previously: L vs No. 1 Duke* 88-81, W vs Stony Brook 93-71

Tom Izzo’s aggressive early schedule had them matched up with No. 1 Duke on the second week of the season, and the Spartans kept it competitive all game, having a lead for a good portion of the time, until late in the game, when Grayson Allen went nuts and made enough acrobatic threes to seal the game for the Blue Devils. Losing to Duke on a neutral court isn’t by any means worse than beating Marquette on the road, but at this early juncture, a singular loss has to count. That and they struggled with Stony Brook early.

Up Next: vs DePaul (Thur)

3) Minnesota Golden Gophers (LW: 5)

Previously: W at Providence 86-74, W vs Niagara 107-81, W vs Western Carolina 92-64

Minnesota went on the road and beat Kenpom #31 Providence, which will serve as a great boost come selection Sunday if the Friars can hold that level of quality. They dispatched of Niagara and Western Carolina the way a team hoping to content for the Big Ten title should. If I told you that the Niagara game was 62-65 midway through the second half, though, would you believe me?

Up Next: vs Alabama A&M (Tue), vs UMass (Fri), vs Alabama (Sat)

4) Maryland Terrapins (LW: 6)

Previously: W vs Butler 79-65, W vs Bucknell 80-78

Maryland took care of business against a tough Butler Bulldogs squad (Kenpom #52) but had to sweat out a sneaky, but outmatched Bucknell. Life After Melo is looking pretty good so far.

Up Next: vs Jackson State (Mon), vs St. Bonaventure (Fri)

5) Iowa Hawkeyes (LW: 3)

Previously: W vs Grambling 85-74

Beating Kenpom #343 Grambling, at home, by 11 doesn’t inspire much confidence, but this week seems to be the week of Big Ten teams not inspiring much confidence. A win is a win, but the teams above the Hawkeyes had better wins.

Up Next: vs Louisiana (Mon)

6) Wisconsin Badgers (LW: 4)

Previously: L vs No. 15 Xavier 80-70

Wisconsin started the game with somewhat of a fast pace, which was jarring to see. They slowed down as the game progressed and Xavier took advantage. Taking 30 seconds to shoot your shots is great when you’re making your threes. When you go 29% from beyond the arc, however, it usually spells doom to not have as many possessions. Game itself went to the wire, but a costly turnover late that led to a Musketeer three pretty much sealed it. This game likely looks a lot different if Wisconsin had just made a few more of their threes (they went 7 of 24).

Up Next: vs No. 25 Baylor (Mon), vs Wisconsin-Milwaukee (Fri)

7) Michigan Wolverines (LW: 7)

Previously: W vs Central Michigan 72-65, W vs Southern Miss 61-47

After a battle with North Texas last week, Michigan found itself in another one with Central Michgian this time, trailing the Chippewas for most of the first half. A 29.4% performance from three likely contributed in never really being able to put the Chippewas away. Likewise, the Wolverines didn’t put Southern Miss away until late into the second half.

Up Next: vs LSU (Mon), vs UC Irvine (Sun)

8) Penn State Nittany Lions (LW: 9)

Previously: W vs Montana 70-57, W vs Columbia 79-65

Taking care of lesser opponents is something this team has struggled to do in previous years. A previous iteration of Penn State without two of its best players probably loses to this Columbia team. Yet, the Nittany Lions managed to beat them by nearly the same margin No. 5 Villanova did.

Up Next: vs Fuck Pitt (Mon), vs No. 16 Texas A&M/Oklahoma State (Tue), vs Oral Roberts (Fri)

9) Northwestern Wildcats (LW: 8)

Previously: W vs St. Peters 75-66, L vs Creighton 92-88, W vs La Salle 82-74*, L vs Texas Tech 85-49*

The wildcats had an up and down week, beating St. Peters by a smaller margin than anticipated (at least it wasn’t a nail biter), then following it up with losses against Creighton and Texas Tech, with a win against La Salle in between. For a team that returned nearly everyone from an NCAA tournament bid a year ago**, one would expect a little better of a performance. I won’t dog them for beating the teams they should, but I think it’s fair to expect them to at least beat one of the teams at their level, let alone get blown out by nearly 40 points.

Up Next: vs Sacred Heart (Fri)

10) Ohio State Buckeyes (LW: 10)

Previously: W vs Texas Southern 82-64, W vs Northeastern 80-55

The Buckeyes had another deceiving win against Texas Southern, who they only led by four with 6:11 left in the game. A series of mistakes by the Tigers led to Ohio State opening up the lead, which made the game look more lopsided than it was. The Northeastern win was a lot more thorough.

Up Next: vs No. 17 Gonzaga (Thur)

11) Illinois Fighting Illini (LW: 11)

Previously: W vs DePaul 82-73, W vs Marshall 91-74

DePaul kept it close for most of the game, but the Illini did just enough to come out with the victory. Marshall kept it close in the first half, but the Illini started pulling away at the end of the first half, and finished pulling away at the beginning of the second half.

Up Next: vs Augusta (IL) (Wed), vs North Carolina Central (Fri)

12) Rutgers Scarlet Knights (LW: 13)

Previously: W vs Cleveland State 70-38, vs Coppin State 64-39

Neither Cleveland State nor Coppin State are any good, but at the very least this is what you should be doing against terrible teams if you’re going to argue you’re improved over seasons past.

Up Next: vs Bryant (Tue), vs East Carolina (Fri)

13) Indiana Hoosiers (LW: 12)

Previously: L at No. 22 Seton Hall 84-68, W vs South Florida 70-53

Indiana wasn’t favored in this game, so there was never an expectation to win it. But losing by 16 is still worse than prognostications. I can’t keep them ahead of a team without a loss, even if that team is Rutgers.

Up Next: vs Arkansas State (Wed), vs Eastern Michigan (Fri)

14) Nebraska Cornhuskers (LW: 14)

Previously: W vs North Texas 86-67, L at St. John’s 79-56, W vs North Dakota 92-70

Nebraska took care of North Texas, opening up a 35-8 lead to start the game, lost to St. John’s on the road, as expected, and followed it up with a win vs North Dakota. Nothing out of the ordinary for the Huskers this week. Beating the teams they should by the margins they should does help their case, at least.

Up Next: vs UCF (Thur)

*Neutral Site Game
**This will absolutely continue to come up as the season progresses.

Ranking criteria:

  1. Recent performance
  2. Overall body of work
  3. Season expectations