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Ranking the B1G: Balance is the Name of the Game

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If Northwestern holds serve on Wednesday, the entire Big Ten will be 1-1 to start conference play.

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Penn State Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Carnage is the name of the game in the Big Ten. Home teams are 13-0 in conference play so far, and with one game left on the early conference slate, there’s a likely chance that we see a 14-way tie for first (or last, if you’re a glass half-empty kind of person) in the Big Ten. Every top 10 team was upset this week, leading to a shakeup in the standings. Even the bottom feeders showed life, which spells for an interesting conference season to come.

1) Ohio State Buckeyes (—)

Despite the loss to Minnesota (which, at this point, winning would have been the upset), Ohio State is still the team to beat in the Big Ten. The North Carolina win has definitely lost its luster, but it is still a better win than what most of the Big Ten can claim.

2) Maryland Terrapins (—)

This is another team that doesn’t get punished for losing a road game in the Big Ten. Besides, they lost to a ranked team, amirite? Although, if they keep playing the way they played against Illinois and Penn State, this spot won’t hold for too long.

3) Penn State Nittany Lions (+2)

The Nittany Lions responded to the blowout loss to Ohio State by beating a top 5 team in Maryland, then surviving at home against Alabama. The next two weeks should be mostly cruise control until conference play picks up again.

4) Indiana Hoosiers (+1)

Indiana rode the struggle bus to two wins last week, offense looking kind of suspect in both outings. They survived UConn by the skin of their teeth in New York, then withstood a late Nebraska onslaught to prevail in overtime. The schedule does ratchet up over the next two weeks, though.

5) Iowa Hawkeyes (—)

The Hawkeyes had been playing Jordan Bohannon for as long as they could before they could make the final call on his status. He was not practicing with the team, only appearing in live games. It’s official, however, that he will miss the rest of the season to tend to his hip injury. On the court, the Hawks did pretty well against Iowa State, holding former Nittany Lion Rasir Bolton to six points. We’ll see how much they miss Bohannon the rest of the year.

6) Michigan State Spartans (-1)

Michigan State also only played one game this week (‘tis the season, after all), a neutral site game against Oakland. The Spartans looked better than they have at times this season, so maybe they’re starting to shake the rust off somewhat. One more month until Joshua Langford comes back!

7) Illinois Fighting Illini (+5)

While coming back down to earth a little, Michigan is still a ranked team, and the Illini beat them soundly in Champaign. They have one more test before conference season begins again.

8) Minnesota Golden Gophers (+1)

Minnesota’s lone game this week came at home against Ohio State, and now the are no undefeated Big Ten teams left.

9) Rutgers Scarlet Knights (+4)

Rutgers had a real good week, beating both Wisconsin and Seton Hall at home, the latter being ranked at the time. Barring a major upset, Rutgers should should resume conference play with three losses.

10) Michigan Wolverines (-7)

Michigan does not get the same benefit of the doubt as Maryland and Ohio State. They seem to have crashed back down to earth after their better-than-expected outing at the Battle 4 Atlantis. The wolverines have lost 3 of 4 since starting the season 7-0.

11) Purdue Boilermakers (-7)

Purdue only played one game in the past week, and that was the road loss to Nebraska. In the Boilers’ defense, the Huskers looked competent on the road against Indiana before faltering in overtime. On the other hand, the Huskers were playing two games in three days, while Purdue had the week off.

12) Northwestern Wildcats (-1)

The win against SIU-Edwardsville put Northwestern above .500. Now they’re tasked with keeping order in the conference by beating Michigan State at home.

13) Nebraska Cornhuskers (+1)

The Huskers came real close against Indiana on Friday. They were able to complete the job on Sunday against Purdue. I’m still wondering how the schedules aligned in such a way that Nebraska played two conference games in three days...

14) Wisconsin Badgers (-4)

Can you believe that Wisconsin has yet to beat Rutgers at the RAC? Their only win way from home came in the Big Ten Super Saturday in Madison Square Garden, and even that one was a dog fight.