- Michigan State (3) - Folks, it’s finally here: This coming Sunday will mark the first meeting of the season between Michigan State and Michigan, and will help determine who is at the top of next week’s power rankings. In the meantime, given how Sparty was able to win on the road this week (and at a better opponent in Wisconsin, no less), in addition to destroying a middling Ohio State team at home, I’m going to give Tom Izzo’s crew the slight edge and put them in the top spot this week.
- Michigan (1) - This year’s victim of Penn State basketball’s annual WTF upset in Big Ten play, the Wolverines will have to hit the road at Minnesota on Thursday before their most anticipated game of the season.
- Purdue (2) - The Boilers got rolled in College Park in a 70-56 trouncing by Maryland, but took care of business at home beating Penn State by a dozen, despite turning the ball over a season-high 23 times.
- Maryland (5) - The Terps smashed Purdue at home in a very impressive victory, and then lost by a baker’s dozen against a pissed-off Michigan team on the road. Things don’t get any easier for the Terps as they travel to a surging Iowa team and then play host to an Ohio State team seeking more quality wins to pad their NCAA Tournament resume.
- Wisconsin (4) - Back-to-back losses against Sparty and Michigan knocked the Badgers down a peg from last week.
- Iowa (6)- For the second straight game, Iowa won thanks to some last-second heroics. This time, it was Joe Wieskamp nailing a buzzer-beater that was so ridiculous, words alone do not do it justice, so here’s a link to the video.
- Minnesota (8) - Richard Pitino’s squad suffered a tough one-point loss at Nebraska, but followed it up with a 21-point beatdown over a free-falling Indiana team. At 17-9 and 7-8 in conference play, the Gophers are in fairly good shape to ultimately get into the NCAA Tournament, so long as they don’t nose dive in their remaining five games. That may be easier said than done though, given that three of the remaining five games are against ranked opponents in Michigan, Purdue, and Maryland.
- Illinois (9)- The Illini just saw a four game winning streak snapped by Wisconsin, but not without a fight, losing only by six in Madison. Imagine me writing that previous sentence just a month ago. Their takedown of Ohio State in Columbus last week further solidified their status as a young team that is finally figuring it out, thanks to a backcourt combo of Trent Frazier, Ayo Dosunmu, along with Giorgi Bezhanishvili up front. This is absolutely not a team you want to see on your schedule at this point, if you’re a fan of any other school.
- Ohio State (7) - The Buckeyes still seem to be safely in every bracketologist’s bracket at the moment, but they sure could use a couple more marquee wins to feel better about where they will stand come March.
- Nebraska (13) - The Huskers snapped a seven-game losing streak with back-to-back wins at home over Minnesota and Northwestern. Tim Miles’ crew must travel to Penn State for a rematch, but after that, their remaining four games are all against ranked teams: Purdue at home, Michigan and Michigan State on the road, and Iowa at home. Sitting at 15-11 overall and 5-10 in B1G play, Nebraska will need to complete a sweep of PSU and win three of their final four games heading into the conference tournament if they want to have a legitimate shot at a bid to the Big Dance.
- Rutgers (11) - Rutgers finally won a Big Ten road game against somebody other than Penn State, knocking off Northwestern in Evanston last Wednesday. That was followed up of course, with the painful last-second loss to an Iowa team they seemingly had beat. Steve Pikiell’s crew will need to get over its hangover fast, as a road trip to Michigan State looms this week, followed by Minnesota at home.
- Indiana (10) - Remember when Indiana scored that huge upset at Michigan State a couple of weeks ago and rode that momentum to a lengthy winning streak, thereby saving their dormant Big Dance hopes? Yeah, me neither.
- Northwestern (13) - The losing skid now stands at six games after becoming Rutgers’ first non-PSU road victim and also dropping a game at Nebraska. If the Wildcats continue their struggles and PSU is able to scrap together a few more wins, then Chris Collins is going to find himself in the very bottom of the B1G basement.
- Penn State (14) - Lamar Stevens was a beast (26 points and 12 rebounds) in PSU’s upset over Michigan, and the light seems to have come on for Myles Dread and Rasir Bolton when it comes to being consistent shooters. The team still has deep flaws, especially up front, but one thing you can count on is that they will continue to scrap and fight until the bitter end.
By Tim Aydin