Down go the heavyweights.
It has been hectic week in the Big Ten as its two powers at the moment, Wisconsin and Maryland, finally took a fall this past week. The middle of the conference is starting to get jumbled and lots of teams are starting to beat up on each other. Heck, the beating up has led to some significant injuries, which you’ll read about.
Looking ahead, it should be another interesting week of Big Ten action as teams try to separate themselves from the pack. That said, let’s look at this week’s power rankings.
1. Wisconsin 15-2, 3-1
Sure, the Badgers lost to Rutgers. Upsets happen, especially when you are missing one of your better players in Frank Kaminsky (who should be back this week). So, they retain the top spot here, regardless. Now, Wisconsin’s bigger issue is the loss of starting point guard Traevon Jackson to an injured foot. He could be out for a month or so. How the Badgers respond will be telling.
2. Maryland 15-2, 3-1
The Terrapins also went down last week when they lost to Illinois on the road, but they regrouped for a win at Purdue. Maryland is still playing well above expectations and can afford a slip up on the road.
3. Michigan State 12-5, 3-1
As conference plays revs up, that is when the Spartans usually rise to the top. And so far, they have done that with a 3-1 record, while owning two impressive wins over Indiana and at Iowa.
4. Indiana 13-4, 3-1
While the Hoosiers barely won their game against Penn State on Tuesday, it’s hard to argue with their 3-1 record in conference play. They looked the part against Ohio State on Saturday, though.
5. Iowa 12-5, 3-1
The Hawkeyes showed a lot of guts in pulling out their win at Minnesota on Tuesday. Aside from playing a shoddy second half against Michigan State, Iowa is getting it done in conference play.
6. Ohio State 14-4, 3-2
The Buckeyes easily made mince meat of the Wolverines on Tuesday and really have had no bad losses this year (including in non-conference play). As such, their standing here is not surprising.
7. Michigan 10-7, 3-2
Michigan took a step back Tuesday, as they were not in the game at all against the Buckeyes. This comes after they started out 3-1 in conference play. Still, the Wolverines are getting better.
8. Purdue 10-7, 2-2
It’s pretty much going as expected for Purdue, which at 2-2 is pretty much an average Big Ten team. Its only losses are to top teams in Wisconsin and Maryland. The Boilermakers need more defining wins on their resume, though.
9. Illinois 11-6, 1-3
As good as they looked in their upset win over Maryland, the Illini were just as bad on the road in their loss to Nebraska. The loss of Rayvonte Rice will prove to be significant. How the Illini respond on the road against Northwestern on Wednesday will tell us a lot about their resolve.
10. Nebraska 10-6, 2-2
The good news for the Cornhuskers is they are 2-2 in the Big Ten. The bad news is that their two wins have come at home against struggling squads in Illinois and Rutgers. Even more bad news? They have a matchup at Wisconsin on Thursday.
11. Rutgers 10-7, 2-2
Credit the Scarlet Knights for their shocking win over the Badgers. They played with a lot of gumption and appear to be on the upswing. Two road games now await Rutgers as they travel to Maryland and Minnesota this week.
12. Northwestern 10-6, 1-2
You have to commend the Wildcats for forcing overtime at Michigan State last week. This team is making strides and they have a chance to make a statement with a home game against state-power Illinois on Wednesday.
13. Minnesota 11-7, 0-5
It’s all going downhill for the Golden Gophers. They fought and fought on Tuesday night but just could not topple Iowa. Any way you slice it, Minnesota has been a disappointment this season and is clearly not looking like an NCAA team many had hoped it would become this season.
14. Penn State 12-5, 0-4
Penn State’s free fall continues and its fast non-conference start is now in the distant past. The Nittany Lions have now dropped all four games in conference play and will be lucky to make any postseason tournament with the way they are playing.