What was supposed to be a pretty quiet week after finals turned out to be pretty eventful for some teams, most notorious of which were the Iowa Hawkeyes, who entered the game against Eastern Illinois as a 31.5-point favorite. They proceeded to allow 92 points en route to the upset, which is one of the biggest in over 30 years.
The rest of the conference played sluggish, but only Illinois —who faced another power team in Missouri, actually lost a game during the post finals slump. At this point next week, we’ll be talking about nothing but conference games!
Purdue continues to be the class of the Big Ten, and sits alone with UConn as the class of the country. One more game against Florida A&M sits between them and a likely “revenge as a No. 1 team” game against Rutgers, the team that knocked them off the last time they were ranked No. 1.
The Badgers sit here mostly by default, as no one has really played anyone of note in the past couple of weeks, and the game they were supposed to play against Grambling ended up being canceled.
3: Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State has been slowly rising in these rankings, which, like Wisconsin, has been mostly by inertia, giving what has happened to teams above them. The Buckeyes play Alabama A&M to cap their non-conference slate, then it’s off to Evanston to resume Big Ten play on January 1st.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: “The Hoosiers are basically here by default, since nothing has happened in the past couple of weeks to merit any more movement.” Indiana took care of business against their inferior opponents, and with the non-conference slate wrapped up, it’s Big Ten play for here on out for the candy strpies.
The Lions had a closer than anticipated game against Quinnipiac, but ultimately prevailed. A should-be-gimmie game against Delaware State is all that stands between the Lions and conference play.
If these blurbs look a little similar, it’s because this is the time of the year where everyone plays the scrubs of the world in order to get ready for conference play. Maryland did so against Saint Peter’s, and another one against UMBC serves as the prep for Michigan, who they face on January 1st.
The Spartans struggled a little with Oakland, but ultimately pulled away to win. They play Buffalo, who is not the Buffalo of old, before resuming conference play against Nebraska on January 3rd.
Northwestern has suddenly found an offense! A team that struggled to score found a way to drop 83 on DePaul, then another 92 on UIC. They have Brown left on the non-conference before hosting Ohio State. Can they eclipse 80 again?
The last time we saw Michigan, they were off losing to North Carolina in not too dissimilar fashion to Ohio State agains the same opponent, which leaves the question of “how good is Michigan, really?” The Wolverines’ lone power conference win so far remains Pitt, and a Minnesota team that may be in contention for one of the worst in the conference along with Louisville and Cal. We should know more about Michigan after the Central Michigan and Maryland games.
10: Rutgers Scarlet Knights
This teams seems to be more Vintage Rutgers™, as they’re not going to light up the scoreboard (don’t let the Wake Forest and Bucknell games fool you), but will suffocate you on defense until your will to live is gone. That works well at
the RAC Jersey Mike’s Arena where they can get away with it, but it might not be a great formula away from home. And, with a loss to Temple already on your ledger, you’re going to need a couple of road wins this year.
11: Iowa Hawkeyes
When you lose to a team you were favored by 31 and a half points in, you’re going to tumble in the rankings. Now, Iowa has been missing Kris Murray for a while now, and I believe they had another player out in this game, but the Hawkeyes should still be vastly superior than Eastern Illinois, even if you don’t cover the massive spread. Iowa resumes conference play against Nebraska, and with how the Huskers have played as of late, don’t be surprised if it’s a losing streak for the Hawkeyes.
The Illini also tumbled, a combination of losing to Missouri while struggling with Alabama A&M. Let’s see how the Illini look against Behune-Cookman before picking conference play back up next week.
Like the top, the bottom is basically here by default. If Nebraska beats Iowa, they may finally see themselves out of the 13-spot in these rankings.
14: Minnesota Golden Gophers
Well they beat Chicago State. That counts for something, right?