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Ranking The B1G: A Clear Early Picture

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A jumbled Big Ten before the season started is jumbled no more.

NCAA Basketball: Villanova at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome welcome welcome, to this year’s edition of Ranking The B1G! After a year hiatus, we’re back at it and better than ever! Let’s start with a quick refresher of how this rankings will work, to explain where you see teams on a week by week basis. My main criteria are as such:

  1. Recent results. If you win your games, you will be ranked higher. Simple, right?
  2. Opponents. Winning is cool and all, but who those wins come against matter too.
  3. Body of work. As to avoid large swings from week to week, what the team has done so far this season also counts.

Notice what’s missing on that list: Potential. Just because a team was expected to be good, or is a brand name, or whatever, doesn’t mean they automatically get the top spot(s). We’re ranking folks based on what they’ve done, not what they might do.

With that said, let’s get it going!

1) Ohio State Buckeyes

The Buckeyes have had a great start to the season. They already beat Villanova, who was ranked No. 10 at the time. Outside of Villanova, however, Ohio State hasn’t really faced much of a challenge. That’s about to change in the next couple of weeks though.

2) Maryland Terrapins

Maryland has taken care of business, but at times has looked suspect while doing so. Chalk it up to early season quirks to to work though. Regardless, they’ve won all their games so they get the second spot.

3) Penn State Nittany Lions

The Lions have exceeded expectations so far this season, beating every opponent by well above what the advanced analytics have suggested, and in the case of Georgetown, actually winning that game. They got a scare against Yale, but they managed to win that, unlike years prior. The Lions’ slate becomes quite interesting starting this week.

4) Indiana Hoosiers

Indiana is another team that had some quirks to work through at the start of the season, but they seem to have worked through them and are now doing what’s expected of them against inferior competition. Unlike the teams above them, the Hoosiers don’t really play much competition until the Big Ten/ACC challenge, where they play Florida State. It does get tougher from there, however.

5) Michigan State Spartans

The Spartans started the season losing to Kentucky, who then proceeded to lose to Evansville. Since then, they’ve beaten then No. 12 Seton Hall, and taken care of everyone else on their schedule until they rant into the Virginia Tech Buzzsaw. They’ve done all this in the face of tragedy, as Cassius Winston lost his brother shortly after that Kentucky game. Our thoughts are with the Winston family.

6) Michigan Wolverines

Michigan is another team that, while they’ve taken care of business, they’ve struggled to put away their opponents to date. They’ve only played three games so far, all at home, but with the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament coming up, we’re about to see what the Wolverines are made of.

7) Illinois Fighting Illini

Like Wisconsin, Illinois had a bad time out west, keeping it close with Arizona for a half before the Wildcats blew the doors off the Illini. They have some quirks to work through as well (this will be the theme for most of these teams), but have taken care of business against everyone else.

8) Iowa Hawkeyes

The Hawkeyes haven’t look terrible so far, but they also haven’t look great either. They had that early shocking loss to DePaul —much more the way they loss than the loss itself, and have since beaten everyone else on their schedule. And yes, you guessed it, they’ve had to work through some quirks. One thing to note: If the Hawkeyes don’t fix their defensive issues soon, another DePaul is right around the corner.

9) Wisconsin Badgers

An early loss to St. Mary’s kept the Badgers from the ranks of the unbeaten, but they’ve since righted the ship, beating all their opponents to date by a comfortable margin. One such opponent is Marquette, which is projected to do some damage in the Big East. That said, Richmond gave the Badgers their second loss of the season on Monday.

10) Purdue Boilermakers

The Boilermakers’ two losses so far are to Texas and Marquette, so they’re losing to quality competition. But Purdue had Marquette on the ropes for much of the game, only to blow a double-digit lead late in the second half. Is this the year where all the departures finally catch up with the Boilers?

11) Rutgers Scarlet Knights

The Knights have been living life on edge to start the season, having struggled to put away almost every single one of their opponents so far. It finally caught up to them against St. Bonaventure, who came into the game at 0-3. Unlike previous seasons, the Scarlet Knights do have some challenging teams in the non-conference, so we’ll see whether they can play better against tougher opponents real soon.

12) Minnesota Golden Gophers

To their credit, the Gophers have played an impressively tough schedule so far. They’ve faced Oklahoma, Butler, and Utah already. To their detriment, they’ve lost all three of those games. Things ease up a bit in the next couple of weeks, which should help the Gophers get back on track.

13) Northwestern Wildcats

It was really tough to pick the last two teams, but I gave Northwestern the edge because they’ve actually beaten someone of note in between their embarrassing losses. Chris Collins has a tough job this season, and things might spiral out of control quickly if they keep losing buy games.

14) Nebraska Cornhuskers

Nebraska started the season 0-2, not just losing buy games (which seems to be a trend all across the country this year), but getting blown out at home to teams that have no business staying with the Huskers. Like Chris Collins, Fred Hoiberg has a tough job this season in Lincoln.