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Ranking the B1G: Double-Byes Up For Grabs

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Nebraska’s loss is Michigan’s gain.

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska, a team most already thought needed to win out to put themselves on the right side of the bubble, went ahead and los to the last-place team in the Big Ten. Oh yeah, they also face two of the hottest teams in the Big Ten to close the season. No biggie.

This leaves us with an interesting scenario: Indiana wins out, Penn State wins out, Michigan loses to Maryland, and Nebraska would then lose to both Indiana and Penn State. Guess who takes the four-seed into the Big Ten Tournament?

1) Michigan State Spartans (Last Week: 2)

Previously: W at Minnesota 87-57, W at Northwestern 65-60

Down 27 on the road? No problem. They’ll just go on a 25-0 run to make it a two point game. The Spartans held Northwestern to 11 points in the second half. I know they were playing without Bryant McIntosh (and I know Penn State just held Illinois to 16 not that long ago), but no Power 6 team should be held to 11 points in an entire half.

Up Next: vs Illinois (Tue), at Wisconsin (Sun)

2) Michigan Wolverines (LW: 5)

Previously: W vs Iowa 74-59, W vs No. 8 Ohio State 74-62

Michigan is peaking at the right time, having avenged their loss to Ohio State with a pure defensive effort. They now face another team peaking at the right time, and one trying their absolute best to not finish with a losing Big Ten record.

Up Next: at Penn State (Wed), at Maryland (Sat)

3) Ohio State Buckeyes (LW: 1)

Previously: L at Penn State 56-79, L at No. 22 Michigan 62-74

The Buckeyes’ stay at number one in these rankings was a short one, as they pulled a Purdue and lost both games last week, which certainly will knock them out of the top 10 in the AP poll when it gets released. Most figured the Michigan game would be tough, but no one, not even the most ardent of Penn State fans, saw that shellacking coming.

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

4) Purdue Boilermakers (LW: 3)

Previously: L at Wisconsin 53-57, W vs Penn State 76-73

Purdue can’t win the regular season title now, not because it’s mathematically impossible, but because the Spartans aren’t losing to either Illinois or Wisconsin. At this point it’s all about seeding for the Boilers.

Up Next: at Illinois (Thu), vs Minnesota (Sun)

5) Penn State Nittany Lions (LW: 6)

Previously: W vs No. 8 Ohio State 79-56, L at No. 6 Purdue 73-76

Only Ohio State fans were foolish enough to think Penn State couldn’t sweep the Buckeyes, but nobody saw THAT coming. Couple that by being a missed shot from winning at Purdue*, and the next to games could be key for Penn State.

Up Next: vs No. 22 Michigan (Wed), at Nebraska (Sun)

6) Nebraska Cornhuskers (LW: 4)

Previously: W vs Maryland 70-66, L at Illinois 66-72

As mentioned in the intro, Nebraska went and lost to the one team it absolutely couldn’t afford to on Sunday. There difference between the Huskers and a team like Penn State? The latter has — Quadrant 1 wins. Nebraska has zero.

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

7) Indiana Hoosiers (LW: 7)

Previously: W vs Illinois 78-68, W at Iowa 84-82

Indiana has quietly put together at least a .500 season in Big Ten play. They’re in no one’s radar right now, but they’re just one Big Ten Tournament finals appearance away from the bubble. That, or they can at least make the NIT, which is an accomplishment in and of itself given what most thought after that second blowout to an Indiana mid-major.

Up Next: at Nebraska (Tue), vs No. 8 Ohio State (Fri)

8) Maryland Terrapins (LW: 8)

Previously: L at Nebraska 66-70, W vs Rutgers 61-51

Once again, the Terps were this close on the road, but falling just short. They are now 1-7 on the road for the season. Their last road game comes against a team that just gave up a 27-point lead though, so maybe 2-8 is achievable.

Up Next: at Northwestern (Mon), vs No. 22 Michigan (Sat)

9) Northwestern Wildcats (LW: 9)

Previously: L at Rutgers 58-67 (OT), L vs No. 2 Michigan State 60-65

As if the loss to Rutgers weren’t bad enough, they had Michigan State on the ropes for most of the game. The Spartans didn’t come all the way back until there were 5:39 left in the game. That’s how large Northwestern’s lead was. Up 22 at halftime, Michigan State started making their run slowly but steadily. As the lead got smaller and smaller, Chris Collins thought it was a good idea to wait until the media timeout instead of calling one of his own to stop the bleeding. I guess he thought having a timeout late in the game was more important than having the lead.

P.S.: He ended up using the timeout maybe 45 seconds before the media timeout, because of course Michigan State came all the way back. That’s what good teams do.

P.P.S.: This was the largest comeback in Big Ten history.

Up Next: vs Maryland (Mon), vs Wisconsin (Thu), at Iowa (Sun)

10) Wisconsin Badgers (LW: 10)

Previously: W vs No. 6 Purdue 57-53

I assume beating Purdue must have felt just like beating Michigan felt for Penn State back in 2013.

Up Next: vs Minnesota (Mon), at Northwestern (Thu), vs No. 2 Michigan State (Sun)

11) Illinois Fighting Illini (LW: 13)

Previously: L at Indiana (Wed), W vs Nebraska 72-66

No luck against the Hoosiers the second time around, but a third win was had against Nebraska. The Illini may have officially served as the kiss of death to the Huskers’ NCAA Tournament hopes.

Up Next: at No. 2 Michigan State (Tue), vs Purdue (Thu), at Rutgers (Sun)

12) Rutgers Scarlet Knights (LW: 14)

Previously: W vs Northwestern 67-58 (OT), L at Maryland 51-61

Three wins matches last season’s total. If they can get another one against Illinois, they can claim progress.

Up Next: at No. 8 Ohio State (Tue), vs Illinois (Sun)

13) Iowa Hawkeyes (LW: 11)

Previously: L at No. 20 Michigan 59-74, L vs Indiana 82-84

Iowa let another one slip away late, as they were in position to tie Indiana to send the game to overtime. Tyler Cook’s shot did not go, however. Opportunity knocks however in their last two games of the season.

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

14) Minnesota Golden Gophers (LW: 12)

Previously: L vs No. 2 Michigan State 57-87

Amir Coffey is officially out for the season, as if that needed an announcement. Minnesota has two winnable games left and Purdue, and hey, depending on who you ask, Purdue might be a winnable game too!

Up Next: at Wisconsin (Mon), vs Iowa (Wed), at No. 6 Purdue (Sun)

*Mike Watkins last shot almost went in plus the foul, instead he missed one of two free throws.

Ranking criteria:

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