Get ready for one of the most brutal 20-game gauntlets that we all recognize as Big Ten basketball. The conference started off with a volatile bang. Teams like Michigan State and Nebraskas were losing important non-conference games. Other teams like Michigan and Ohio State won important non-conference games.
As it stands on December 13, 2019, the Big Ten may once again be the toughest and deepest conference among the Power 6 conferences in college basketball. On any given evening, there’s a chance for upsets-galore. At the moment, there is no single team with a 2-0 conference record. All teams are 1-0, 1-1, or worse.
December 13, 2019 Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings
No. 14 Nebraska (4-5, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 14; Last Week: Loss at Creighton 76-95
Nebraska has dropped three of their last four games and begin conference play this week with two tough match ups. The Cornhuskers travel to Bloomington to face Indiana Friday and then return home for a turn around match up against Purdue on Sunday. If Fred Hoiberg’s team can get at least one win out of the two, it can be a momentum builder for the young program.
No. 13 Northwestern (4-4, 0-1 B1G)
Previous: No. 13; Last Week: Loss at Purdue 44-58
After a double digit victory against Boston College during the BigTen/ACC Challenge, Northwestern could not get off to a strong start in conference play. The Wildcats fell to Purdue 58-44 while dropping their fourth game of the season. Things are going to get more difficult for Northwestern has the Michigan State Spartans comes to Evanston Wednesday night finishing off conference play.
No. 12 Minnesota (4-5, 0-1 B1G)
Previous: No. 10; Last Week: Loss at Iowa 52-72
The Golden Gophers fell below .500 after a 20-point loss to Iowa Monday night. Richard Pitino’s team could not find the range from deep as they shot 24% behind the arc during the contest. Minnesota’s road does not get easier as they host Ohio State to finish off the early slate of conference play.
No. 11 Wisconsin (5-5, 1-1 B1G)
Previous: No. 12; Last Week: Win vs. Indiana 84-64, Loss at Rutgers 65-72
Greg Gard’s group have been on one of the biggest roller coaster rides with the team firmly at 5-5. The Badgers have a higher ceiling than most, but the offensive fire power seems to shy away when Wisconsin needs it the most. 5-5 is not the record the group was targeting, but they do have an important conference victory against a 9-1 Hoosiers team.
No. 10 Rutgers (7-3, 1-1 B1G)
Previous: No. 11; Last Week: Loss at #10 Michigan St. 65-77, Win against Wisconsin 72-65
With a home win against Wisconsin, Rutgers finally has their first important victory of the season which validates what this group is putting together on the floor. Sophomore Myles Johnson ranks in the top 100 in both offensive and defensive rebounding for the Scarlet Knights in addition to being top 75 in block percentage.
No. 9 Iowa (8-3, 1-1 B1G)
Previous: No. 8; Last Week: Loss at #4 Michigan 91-103, Loss at #4 Michigan 91-103, Win against Minnesota 72-52
In typical Big Ten fashion, Iowa lost on the road and won at home against conference foes. Garza is making a strong case to be considered as conference POTY and without his productivity, the Hawkeyes would be much closer to the bottom of this list. Iowa followed up with an impressive road victory against their in-state rivals Iowa State.
No. 8 Purdue (6-3, 1-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 6; Last Week: Win vs. Northwestern 58-44
Due to Penn State’s and Illinois’ big wins, the Boilermakers slip a couple spots this week. It’s not their fault. Sasha Stefanovic had his 2nd straight impressive game in Sunday’s win over Northwestern. The Crown Point native is knocking down 44.2% of his three-pointers this season, on over five attempts per game.
No. 7 Indiana (9-1, 0-1 B1G)
Previous: No. 4; Last Week: Loss at Wisconsin 64-84, Win against UConn 57-54
Indiana came down from their impressive victory over Florida State with an embarrassing loss in Madison again. Somehow the Kolh Center will always be Indiana’s kryptonite, but Indiana was able to rally to a close victory over UConn in the Garden. TJD and the Hoosiers still have things to figure out, but they are shaping up to be one of the grittier teams in a tough conference.
No. 6 Illinois (7-3, 1-1 B1G)
Previous: No. 9; Last Week: Loss at #3 Maryland 58-59, Win vs. #5 Michigan 71-62
Even when Kofi Cockburn is having a rough patch of efficiency, the Illini has shown their ability to keep up with the best in the conference. Maryland was a heartbreaking loss and Michigan was a great victory for a young team looking to push for the postseason. The Fighting Illini are going to be able to compete in every conference game this season.
No. 5 Penn State (8-2, 1-1 B1G)
Previous: No. 7; Last Week: Loss at #6 Ohio St. 74-106, Win vs. #4 Maryland 76-69
After an incredibly challenging two-game league play snippet (only Illinois can possibly argue for a tougher one), PSU emerged 1-1. Lamar Stevens will almost definitely land on the all-Big Ten first team at the end of the year, but big man Mike Watkins elevates Penn St. to another level when he’s locked in. Watkins had 15 and 11 in PSU’s win over No. 4 Maryland on Tuesday.
No. 4 Michigan State (6-3, 1-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 5; Last Week: Win vs. Rutgers 77-65
Even with Michigan State at three losses, teams like Michigan and Maryland have lost games they were supposed to win. That has opened up a chance for the Spartans to rise back to the top. Michigan State has an easy stretch coming up with a road game against Northwestern, and then three home games against Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, and Illinois. Izzo should be able to get this team back on track.
No. 3 Michigan (8-2, 1-1 B1G)
Previous: No. 3; Last Week: Win vs. Iowa 103-91, Loss at Illinois 62-71
Michigan’s loss on the road against Illinois would be surprising; however, road games in the Big Ten will not be handed out this season. The Wolverines had consistency inside the paint; however, their inability to shoot the deep ball was too much to overcome. Against their upcoming match up against Oregon, the Wolverines need to find more opportunities to get to the charity stripe and regain their offensive rhythm.
No. 2 Maryland (10-1, 1-1 B1G)
Previous: No. 2; Last Week: Win vs. Illinois 59-58, Loss at Penn State 69-76
Maryland’s last two games seemed like they should have been easier; however, the home game against Illinois was a nail-biter until the very end, and the Penn State game frustrated the Terrapins, especially because their star Cowan struggled from the field. They have a long time before their next game, which is a big road game test against a tough Seton Hall Pirates team.
No. 1 Ohio State (9-0, 1-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 1; Last Week: Win vs. Penn St. 106-74
The Buckeyes remain as one of five undefeated teams in Division 1 after their comfortable win over Penn St. to start conference play. If the ceiling for this squad is truly contending for a national title, winning on the road in the Big Ten will have to happen early and often. Their first away test is in Minneapolis on Sunday.
Featured Photo: IndianaHQ