As we close out the month of December, there are a very few certain things about this conference. That being said, one thing we do know for sure is that the Big Ten has earned enough of a non-conference resume as a league to be a top two conference. The conference is ranked second in “Conference NET,” which aggregates NET rankings of all the teams, and it has accumulated a record of 100-36 in the non-conference at the time of writing.
The second is that the league is still wide open. Michigan State was the favorite among all teams in the entire nation, but they have solidified themselves in the second tier of teams. Even Michigan, who looked great getting wins over then-ranked North Carolina and current No. 1 Gonzaga, has had a few stumbles afterwards. Any team can truly win on any given night in 2019-2020 Big Ten basketball.
December 27, 2019 Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings
No. 14 Nebraska (5-7, 1-1 B1G)
Previous: No. 13; Last Week: Loss vs. North Dakota 74-75
Nebraska dropped a tough one to North Dakota by just one point in a game they were favored to win by nine. The Cornhuskers have now lost four of their last five games and are .500 at home.
No. 13 Northwestern (5-6, 0-2 B1G)
Previous: No. 14; Last Week: Loss at DePaul 78-83
In Northwestern’s first four losses they lost by a combined 48 points. However, they have dropped two straight games by just a combined 10 points. As the season has gone on the Wildcats are staying with their opponents giving them a chance to win each contest. With Big Ten play resuming, Northwestern is still a team opponents need to watch for as a slip up in a tough league can doom any contender.
No. 12 Wisconsin (6-5, 1-1 B1G)
Previous: No. 12; Last Week: Win vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee 83-64
Wisconsin has an opportunity to redeem their non-conference slate with a game against Tennessee in Knoxville. That will be a difficult test, though, as they have been undefeated at home, but winless in road or neutral court games. If the Badgers are unable to pull this off, they will need to find a way into postseason contention through a Big Ten gauntlet.
No. 11 Rutgers (9-3, 1-1 B1G)
Previous: No. 10; Last Week: Win vs. Lafayette 63-44
Currently perfect at home, but winless anywhere else, the Scarlet Knights have to find a way to win in road environments in the Big Ten. As we have already seen in a number of games, that will be a very difficult test this season. Rutgers should feel confident with their position and they will likely wrap up the non-conference with a 9-2 record.
No. 10 Purdue (7-5, 1-1 B1G)
Previous: No. 9; Last Week: Loss vs. #17 Butler 61-70 (Neutral)
The Boilermakers have one of the strangest resumes in college basketball. Their impressive home victory against then No. 5 Virginia is currently being weighed down by a number of losses in November and December. Don’t count out Purdue as they also had five losses going into January last season before tearing up the Big Ten and finding their way into the Elite Eight.
No. 9 Minnesota (6-5, 1-1 B1G)
Previous: No. 11; Last Week: Win vs. Oklahoma St. 86-66 (Neutral)
After shocking the nation by defeating Ohio State, Minnesota came out and dominated Oklahoma State 86-66. The Gophers have now won back-to-back games for the second time this season and face-off against Florida International on Saturday. In a conference where anything can happen, do not be surprised if Minnesota can pull off some more upsets during league play.
No. 8 Illinois (8-4, 1-1 B1G)
Previous: No. 7; Last Week: Loss vs. Missouri 56-63 (Neutral)
Illinois lost its sole game of the week against Missouri on a neutral site game. Cockburn struggled somewhat as well, only getting 2 rebounds in the loss. The Illini have one more tune-up game before traveling to East Lansing for a big match up against the Spartans.
(Tie) No. 6 Iowa (9-3, 1-1 B1G)
Previous: No. 8; Last Week: Win vs. Cincinnati 77-70 (Neutral)
Iowa managed to win enough games against strong teams to become a Top 25 team. Garza continues to be their go-to for productivity and it will be interesting to see where the team goes come conference play.
(Tie) No. 6 Indiana (11-1, 1-1 B1G)
Previous: No. 6; Last Week: Win vs. Notre Dame 53-51 (Neutral)
Indiana found another way to win this past week and done so behind Armaan Franklin’s late game heroics. Indiana has not proved many doubters wrong that they deserve to be near the top of the Big Ten, but they also have not proved the doubters right by stumbling thus season apart from the loss on the road at Wisconsin.
No. 5 Penn State (10-2, 1-1 B1G)
Previous: No. 5; Last Week: Win vs. Central Conn. St. 87-58
Pat Chambers is building a lot of momentum for the team in State College. The Nittany Lions have an important five game stretch with all winnable games before they face Ohio State. If they can win even four out of their next five against Cornell, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, then expect this team to be dancing in March.
No. 4 Michigan State (9-3, 2-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 3; Last Week: Win vs. Eastern Michigan 101-48
The good news for the Spartans is that they lead the pack in the Big Ten as the sole team with two wins. After their win against Seton Hall, Michigan State’s next best resume win was their victory over Rutgers. Tom Izzo is helped by having the next three conference games at home, which is a very winnable stretch for the team in East Lansing.
No. 3 Maryland (10-2, 1-1 B1G)
Previous: No. 3; Last Week: No games played
Opposing teams should be scared to face a balanced Maryland team, with their strong backcourt, athletic wings, and a frontcourt led by Jalen Smith. The Terrapins have a lot of talent and leadership — arguably the deepest roster they have had under Mark Turgeon. The team is sizing up to be Turgeon’s fifth tournament team in six years, and the question will be about how deep they can go.
No. 2 Michigan (9-3, 1-1 B1G)
Previous: No. 2; Last Week: Win vs. Presbyterian 86-44
The Wolverines will end their non-conference stretch with a likely record of 9-2, and if you asked any Michigan fan before the season if they would take that record given their incredibly difficult schedule, they would have grabbed that opportunity by the horns. Michigan opens up with a road test in East Lansing to resume Big Ten play.
No. 1 Ohio State (11-1, 1-1 B1G)
Previous: No. 1; Last Week: Win vs. #6 Kentucky 71-65 (Neutral)
Ohio State earns another signature win against Kentucky on a neutral court environment in Las Vegas. The Buckeyes are a team that KenPom’s ranking absolutely love. They are just one of two teams in the top ten in both adjusted offense and defense — the other team being Duke. They are projected to win in every remaining Big Ten conference game except their road trip to East Lansing.
Featured Photo: IndianaHQ