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Ranking the B1G: Conference Play Is Set To Resume

Every team but one has finished their non-conference slate.

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

Only one team, Wisconsin, has yet to finish their non-conference slate. The Badgers play the Rider Broncs (of three-point buzzer beater fame) before resuming conference play against Ohio State. The rest of the league will be back in action starting on Thursday, when Minnesota takes on Purdue and Illinois travels to Michigan State. After a two-week lull, the bloodbath is set to resume!

1) Ohio State Buckeyes (—)

The Buckeyes have looked mortal as of late, edging out a win against Kentucky (who themselves aren’t a world beater this year), then losing at home to West Virginia. Still, Ohio State is one of the best teams in the conference, and their loss to West Virginia is still better than anyone below them even played.

2) Iowa Hawkeyes (+3)

The Hawkeyes are starting to look like a top Big Ten team, and they’re doing it using the formula that has worked for them in the past few seasons. Any team that wants to beat Iowa either has to score with them or figure out how to stop their offensive barrage. Neither of those seems particularly easy at the moment.

3) Penn State Nittany Lions (—)

It was a very ho hum week for Penn State, as they played two anchor teams and beat them as soundly as a team ranked in the top 25 should.

4) Michigan State Spartans (+2)

Will you look at that! The Spartans look like a real basketball team with January right around the corner! Who in the would would have thought that could happen?!

5) Maryland Terrapins (-3)

The Terrapins followed up a loss to Penn State by losing again to Myles Powell-less Seton Hall. Then it was announced that The Twins were transferring. At least they beat Bryant. They, however, were plagued by the same thing that’s been ailing them all season: the slow starts. If they don’t figure out a way to start fast, and soon, there are more losses on the horizon for this team.

6) Indiana Hoosiers (-2)

The Hoosiers had note on their video board stating that Arkansas was 0-7 on the road against Big Ten teams. Oops! They beat Notre Dame before that, though, so they don’t fall too hard.

7) Minnesota Golden Gophers (+1)

Looks like all those games against power conference teams earlier in the season are starting to pay dividends, because the Gophers are on a roll. They’ve won three straight, two against power teams, and will probably give Purdue a game on Thursday, if not an outright loss.

8) Illinois Fighting Illini (-1)

Illinois is still suffering from “can’t beat power conference teams” syndrome, with the exception of Michigan. We will know what the Illini are made of when they visit Michigan State this week.

9) Rutgers Scarlet Knights (—)

Rutgers’ non-conference schedule leaves a ton to be desired. That said, they took care of business, only suffered one damaging loss this time around, and are primed to make noise in the conference this season. It all starts with a trip to Nebraska on Friday.

10) Michigan Wolverines (—)

Isaiah Livers is out indefinitely, but it didn’t hurt the Wolverines much as they played two low major teams during the holidays. Can they produce without one of their leading scorers? Find out on the next episode of Ranking the B1G!

P.S.: They play Michigan State next. Ouch.

11) Wisconsin Badgers (+3)

The Badgers notched their first win away from home on Saturday, and it came against Tennessee, no less! Wisconsin hadn’t won a single game away from the Kohl Center to date.

12) Purdue Boilermakers (-1)

Not gonna lie, I don’t know what to make of Purdue. They looked their best against Virginia, but Virginia doesn’t seem to be national championship caliber this season. They’ve been alternating wins and losses since beating Northwestern in early December, and they just beat Central Michigan. You do the math.

14) Northwestern Wildcats (-2)

Just when you thought Northwestern couldn’t be embarrassed anymore, they go and lose to Hartford at home. They were favored by 17 points in that game. At this point I’m just going to rank them and Nebraska 14th for the rest of the season.

14) Nebraska Cornhuskers (-1)

Not to be outdone by Northwestern, Nebraska went and lost to North Dakota at home. Both of these teams have losing records heading into conference play. They’re the only two teams with losing records heading into conference play.