Last week saw many Big Ten teams face off against teams from other power conferences, and results were mixed. Some teams, like Northwestern, did far better than one would have assumed given their play of late. Others, like Michigan State, struggled yet again with a team that turned out to not be that good after all.
There’s a line in the rankings these week. Teams above the line are pretty clear cut. Teams below it are pretty much a crapshoot, and an argument could be made for just about any of them (or against them).
1) Michigan Wolverines (+5)
Beat two top 10 teams, get the top spot. Pretty simple, right? Looks like the Wolverines might not miss a beat in Juwan Howard’s first season at the helm.
2) Ohio State Buckeyes (-1)
The Buckeyes keep chugging along, beating everyone they’ve faced by a comfortable margin. Things get real in a hurry, however.
3) Maryland Terrapins (-1)
Maryland struggled with Harvard before pulling away late. They did not, however, struggle with a surging Marquette team whose best player had scored 91 points in the previous two games.
4) Penn State Nittany Lions (-1)
All things considered, Penn State did exactly as you would have expected in the tournament. The difference is that they lost the first game instead of the second. The challenge now is to make sure they don’t let another giant lead fade away against anyone else.
5) Indiana Hoosiers (-1)
While undefeated, Indiana still hasn’t beaten anyone from a power conference. They’ll get their opportunity in the next two weeks. If they’re still undefeated after that slate, they’ll move up in these rankings.
6) Michigan State Spartans (-1)
They beat the rest of the teams in their tournament, but lost to Virginia Tech in the first game. The Hokies proceeded to lose to both Dayton and BYU in blowout fashion. There may be obvious reasons for the listless performances as of late, and once again, our thoughts are with the Winston family.
7) Iowa Hawkeyes (+1)
The Hawkeyes rebounded pretty well after losing to DePaul, beating ranked Texas Tech in the process. They lost to San Diego State right after, but hey, can’t win them all.
8) Purdue Boilermakers (+2)
The Boilermakers have somewhat righted the ship, splitting their two games last week, beating then-ranked VCU, but losing to Florida State. Things don’t get any easier this week as they travel to Virginia in hopes to score more than 10 points in the game.
9) Rutgers Scarlet Knights (+2)
Rutgers suffers from the same problem as Indiana, except they have a loss. The Scarlet Knights have not beaten a single power conference opponent yet, and their best win, UMass, has now lost three straight after starting 5-0.
10) Minnesota Golden Gophers (+2)
The Gophers have strung together some wins to get back to .500. Unlike other teams in these Rankings, Minnesota may have played too many power conference opponents so far (five!!), which explains the record. Their problem to date was that they hadn’t beaten any of those teams. They did on Monday night.
11) Illinois Fighting Illini (-4)
The only two power conference opponents Illinois has played, they have lost to. Credit for making the Miami loss look respectable, but it doesn’t change the fact that they were down 27 at home against a team they were favored to beat by 8. Now they play two of the top three teams in the Big Ten back to back. Good luck.
12) Wisconsin Badgers (-3)
Wisconsin misses Ethan Happ pretty badly. They were the unlucky team to go 0-fer in their tournament, losing to New Mexico and Richmond. Like the rest of the Big Ten, they now have to face an ACC team and two Big Ten teams in their next three games. Badgers might have a losing record when we do these again.
13) Nebraska Cornhuskers (+1)
The Huskers get the edge this week for who they beat. They also get the edge for coming back from a 0-2 start to get themselves above .500. Their next four games are manageable, but it’s not unrealistic to see them go winless against that slate either.
14) Northwestern Wildcats (-1)
As it turns out, maybe Providence isn’t that good this season.