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Ranking the B1G: The Mess In The Middle Gets Messier

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Northwestern’s falling off a cliff. Nebraska’s doing that “win early then collapse later” thing again. Purdue’s the new #1.

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Rutgers and Indiana aren’t ready to be relegated to the bottom four yet. Iowa and Illinois, on the other hand, are making themselves comfortable down there.

1) Purdue Boilermakers (Last Week: 2)

Previously: W vs Rutgers 82-51, W vs Nebraska 74-62

Nebraska put up as much of a fight as they could, but every time they threatened, Purdue had an answer. Also, refs still don’t know how to handle Isaac Haas, as breathing is a foul on him. They made up for it by giving Isaac Copeland a technical for merely looking at Matt Haarms (yes refs, there are two blond 7-footers with similar last names on the Purdue roster).

Up Next: at Michigan (Tue), at Minnesota (Sat)

2) Ohio State Buckeyes (LW: 3)

Previously: W at Iowa 92-81, W vs No. 1 Michigan State 80-64

Ohio State built a big enough lead in the first half that allowed them some breathing room against Iowa, who wasn’t really able to close in on the Buckeyes despite their best efforts in the second half. The other game went exactly as you thought it would, right?

Up Next: vs Maryland (Thu), at Rutgers (Sun)

3) Michigan State Spartans (LW: 1)

Previously: W vs Maryland 91-61, L at Ohio State 80-64

Michigan State worked Maryland for 30 minutes, then got worked for 30 as it lost its first Big Ten game of the season at Ohio State. We all knew the Spartans would drop one eventually, but no one saw this.

Up Next: vs Rutgers (Wed), vs Michigan (Sat)

4) Michigan Wolverines (LW: 4)

Previously: W at Iowa 75-68, W vs Illinois 79-69

The Wolverines escaped with a win in Iowa City, then followed it up by overcoming a halftime deficit against Illinois at home. For their efforts, they get to play Purdue and Michigan State in back to back games.

Up Next: vs No. 13 Purdue (Tue), at No. 1 Michigan State (Sat)

5) Maryland Terrapins (LW: 5)

Previously: W vs Penn State 75-69, L at No. 1 Michigan State 91-61, W vs Iowa 91-73

The held serve at home against Penn State, but beating Michigan State on the road is a whole different animal. Credit them for at least making it interesting for a portion of a half. Anyone beats Iowa at this point.

Up Next: at Ohio State (Thu)

6) Penn State Nittany Lions (LW: 10)

Previously: L at Maryland 75-69, W vs Northwestern 78-63

They lost a close one at Maryland, then turned their fortunes around against Northwestern. If the team that showed up against the Wildcats shows up the rest of the way (and if Garner and Carr can contribute some more, while they’re at it), there will be wins to be had in the next few weeks.

Up Next: at Indiana (Tue), vs Nebraska (Fri)

6) Minnesota Golden Gophers (LW: 6)

Previously: W vs Illinois 77-67, L vs Indiana 75-71

Reggie Lynch is suspended until 2020 for certain allegations, which puts Minnesota in the danger zone, as they don’t have the depth to replace him for the rest of the season. Amir Coffey was also out against Indiana, and it’s unclear when he’ll be coming back. Missing two key players (one for the rest of the season, most likely) may be the last straw for a team looking to repeat as NCAA tournament participants.

Up Next: at Northwestern (Wed), vs No. 13 Purdue (Sat)

6) Nebraska Cornhuskers (LW: 8)

Previously: W at Northwestern 70-55, L at No. 13 Purdue 74-62

Nebraska is doing that thing again where they start conference play well, then lose 2530 games in a row to finish with a losing record anyway. Starting 2-2 is a far cry from last year’s 3-0 start, but it’s still better than what we expected at this point in the season (and yes, they played Bryant McIntosh-less Northwestern, that helps).

Up Next: vs Wisconsin (Tue), at Penn State (Fri)

6) Northwestern Wildcats (LW: 9)

Previously: L vs Nebraska 70-55, L at Penn State 78-63

Northwestern has to be in desperation mode as they lost two winnable games in blowout fashion. They could start by not relying so heavily on McIntosh. They looked terrible without him against Nebraska. Against Penn State, he was the only reason the Wildcats were even in it at times. Case in point, if they don’t start winning some games one way or another, they might not only miss the tournament, they might miss the NIT.

Up Next: vs Minnesota (Wed), at Indiana (Sun)

6) Wisconsin Badgers (LW: 12)

Previously: W vs Indiana 71-61, L at Rutgers 64-60

Did you know? Wisconsin is the only team who hasn’t won a game at Rutgers in conference play.

Up Next: at Nebraska (Tue)

6) Indiana Hoosiers (LW: 14)

Previously: L at Wisconsin 71-61, W at Minnesota 75-71

Indiana is quietly 2-2 in the Big Ten, and has placed itself squarely in the mushy middle of the conference.

Up Next: vs Penn State (Tue), vs Northwestern (Sun)

6) Rutgers Scarlet Knights (LW: 12)

Previously: L at No. 13 Purdue 82-51, W vs Wisconsin 64-60

In the first half, it looked like Rutgers and Wisconsin were going to have a 36-33 repeat. With about 11 minutes left to play in the half, Rutgers had 10 points on the board, while Wisconsin had nine.

Up Next: at No. 1 Michigan State (Wed), vs Ohio State (Sun)

13) Illinois Fighting Illini (LW: 7)

Previously: L at Minnesota 77-67, L at Michigan 79-69

A zero-fer week drops the Illini back down the list. The rollercoaster will likely continue for Illinois, as Brad Underwood assembles his kind of team in Champaign.

Up Next: vs Iowa (Thu)

14) Iowa Hawkeyes (LW: 11)

Previously: L vs Michigan 75-68, L vs Ohio State 92-81, L at Maryland 91-73

Iowa has to be one of the most disappointing teams of this season. They returned so much production outside of Peter Jok, and have looked out of sorts all season. Fran McCaffrey getting ejected (again) provided somewhat of a spark to Iowa in the Maryland game, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Terps own surge. I hate to say this so early, but the Hawkeyes might just be playing for pride at this point.

Up Next: at Illinois (Thu)

Ranking criteria:

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