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Ranking the B1G: Big Ten/ACC Embarrassment

The Big Ten was 1-6 after the first two nights.

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten just finished its worst showing in the challenge against the ACC, with the former winning 11 games in the challenge. In fairness to the Big Ten, 14 teams are participating this time around. But the fact that it was this lopsided does not look good for the conference. The silver lining is that most of the games were close.

1) Michigan State Spartans (Last Week: 1)

Previously: W vs No. 5 Notre Dame 81-63, W vs Nebraska 86-57

An easy week for the Spartans, who were one of three bright spots this week, along with Purdue, and, of all teams, Nebraska, in the Big Ten/ACC challenge. They made quick work of both Notre Dame and aforementioned Nebraska, winning both by double digits.

Up Next: at Rutgers (Tue), vs Southern Utah (Sat)

2) Minnesota Golden Gophers (LW: 2)

Previously: L vs No. 11 Miami 86-81, W Rutgers —

In fairness to Minnesota, they were playing without Dupree McBrayer, but it was still a home game against a team that should be fairly similar to them in Miami. They righted the ship against Rutgers, putting the game out of reach early for the Scarlet Knights.

Up Next: at Nebraska (Tue), at Arkansas (Sat)

3) Purdue Boilermakers (LW: 4)

Previously: W vs No. 17 Louisville 66-57, W at Maryland 80-75, W vs Northwestern 74-69

Purdue is another team that found itself in close games this week, but they won them all. Their stint as an unranked team is likely over after this showing. Also, the combination of Isaac Haas and Matt Haarms (that won’t get confusing anytime soon) is proving to be as irritating to opposing teams as the Haas/Swanigan combination was last year.

Up Next: vs Valparaiso (Thu), vs IUPUI (Sun)

4) Maryland Terrapins (LW: 3)

Previously: L at Syracuse 72-70, L vs Purdue 80-75, W at Illinois 92-91 (OT)

Maryland played three close games, and lost two of them. For the past three years, the Terrapins were known as the team who could find a way to win those close games, but now they seem to be regressing to the mean. I wonder what changed...

Up Next: vs Ohio (Thu), vs Gardner-Webb (Sat)

5) Michigan Wolverines (LW: 5)

Previously: L at No. 9 North Carolina 86-71, W vs Indiana 69-55

One of the few teams to lose in blowout fashion in the Big Ten/ACC challenge, Michigan righted the ship by having their own double-figure win against Indiana. This season, however, that may not be much of an accomplishment.

Up Next: at Ohio State (Mon), vs UCLA (Sat)

6) Penn State Nittany Lions (LW: 7)

Previously: L at NC State 85-78, W at Iowa 77-73

While the loss to NC State was disappointing, rebounding from that and beating Iowa on the road for the first time since 2001 keeps Penn State on track to have a decent season. Let’s see what they do next.

Up Next: vs Wisconsin (Mon), vs George Washington (Sat)

7) Northwestern Wildcats (LW: 9)

Previously: L at Georgia Tech 52-51, W vs Illinois 72-68 (OT), L at Purdue 74-69

Northwestern keeps playing close games, losing one at the buzzer against Georgia Tech, and another in the last half-minute to Purdue, while winning one in between against Illinois in overtime. The Wildcats seem to be getting into their groove finally, so now it’s about putting some of these teams away early. There’s opportunity on the upcoming schedule.

Up Next: BYE

8) Ohio State Buckeyes (LW: 11)

Previously: L vs Clemson 79-65, W at Wisconsin 83-58

The Buckeyes were Jeckyll and Hyde this week. They first blew a comfortable lead to lose by 14 vs Clemson, then turned around and handed Wisconsin one of their worst home losses in recent memory. It’s quite possible that Wisconsin is not the only scalp Ohio State will claim this season.

Up Next: vs Michigan (Mon), vs William & Mary (Sat)

9) Wisconsin Badgers (LW: 6)

Previously: L at Virginia 49-37, L vs Ohio State 83-58

Wisconsin not breaking 40 is bad enough, but the fact that Virginia didn’t even need to break 50 to win by double digits is just astounding. I’m glad the Big Ten and ACC did the right thing by pitting these two against each other. May I remind you that Wisconsin didn’t break 40? And, if that weren’t enough, they lost by 25 to Ohio State, at home. Wisconsin will need to figure things out fast.

Up Next: at Penn State (Mon), at Temple (Wed)

10) Iowa Hawkeyes (LW: 8)

Previously: L at Virginia Tech 79-55, L vs Penn State 77-73

The Wheels might be coming off the Hawkeyes soon if they don’t figure things out on defense. They find ways to score on offense when they need to, but their problems for the past five games (four of which were losses) have continually been their inability to stop anyone when they absolutely needed to.

Up Next: at Indiana (Mon), at Iowa State (Thu), vs Southern (Sun)

11) Illinois Fighting Illini (LW: 10)

Previously: L at Wake Forest 80-73, L at Northwestern 72-68 (OT), L vs Maryland 92-91 (OT)

Like Northwestern above, Illinois found itself playing a ton of close games this week. Unlike Northwestern, and by virtue of playing Northwestern, they didn’t come away with any wins. In reality, hanging around with both the Wildcats and Maryland is an accomplishment in and of itself.

Up Next: vs Austin Peay (Wed), vs UNLV (Sat)*

12) Rutgers Scarlet Knights (LW: 12)

Previously: L vs Florida State 78-73, L at No. 12 Minnesota 89-67

Props for staying close with Florida State, but the result went as expected. Rutgers has done well against severely overmatched teams, but struggled against the two that weren’t doormats, culminating with a blowout on the road at Minnesota.

Up Next: vs No. 3 Michigan State (Tue), vs NJIT (Thu), vs Fairleigh Dickinson (Sat)

13) Nebraska Cornhuskers (LW: 14)

Previously: W vs Boston College 71-62, L at No. 3 Michigan State 86-57

Of all teams to actually beat their ACC opponent, very few would have expected Nebraska to be one of them. They followed it up by losing to Michigan State by 29, but many teams will be losing to Michigan State by 29 this season.

Up Next: vs No. 12 Minnesota (Tue), at No. 25 Creighton (Sat)

13) Indiana Hoosiers (LW: 13)

Previously: L vs No. 1 Duke 91-81, L at Michigan 69-55

Like Rutgers, props for staying close with Duke. However, losing has to start costing the Hoosiers at some point, so let’s start with now.

Up Next: vs Iowa (Mon), at No. 17 Louisville (Sat)

Ranking criteria:

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