The Big Ten makes another case for being one of the deepest conferences in the nation after their first victory in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge since 2015. Big wins from teams like Purdue, Ohio State, and Indiana are going to be very important for the conference as a whole going into Selection Sunday.
Michigan returned back to earth with their loss on the road at Louisville. The victory for Chris Mack’s team probably will end up speaking to how his Cardinals team is, rather than deficiencies with the Wolverines.
Here’s how the Big Ten shakes out for the week of December 6, 2019.
December 6, 2019 Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings
No. 14 Nebraska (4-4, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 13; Last Week: Loss at Georgia Tech 56-73
At the very least, Nebraska now has company at the bottom of the conference as they have two other teams with the same record in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Fred Hoiberg is developing his team and Huskers fans can clearly see progression from game to game; however, it will be an uphill battle throughout the entire season given the limited talent on the roster. KenPom is currently predicting a 0-20 finish in the Big Ten.
No. 13 Northwestern (4-3, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 14; Last Week: Win at Boston College 82-64
With their victory against Boston College, Northwestern has won back-to-back games in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge for the first time since the 2015 and 2016 seasons. The young Wildcats have picked up wins in three out of their last four contests with all of them being double-digit victories. Chris Collins’ team is up for a challenge as they take a trip to Mackey Arena, facing off against Purdue to start conference play.
No. 12 Wisconsin (4-4, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 5; Last Week: Loss at NC State 54-69
After starting the season with a 4-1 record, Wisconsin has lost three straight against Richmond, New Mexico, and N.C. State. The Badgers are struggling to find consistent offense and the loss of Ethan Happ is starting to finally catch up to this ball club. Their schedule does not get easier with a home game against Indiana and then a road test at Rutgers, where the Badgers are currently the underdogs.
No. 11 Rutgers (6-2, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 11; Last Week: Win vs. UMass 82-57, Loss at Pittsburgh 60-71
Rutgers has taken care of business, but their best win so far is against a top-200 UMass team. Jacob Young has been a refreshing contributor for the Scarlet Knights, currently being utilized on a quarter of all Rutgers possessions. Steve Pikiell looks for their first top-100 victory and has three chances in the next week and a half against Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Seton Hall.
No. 10 Minnesota (4-4, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 12; Last Week: Loss. vs. DePaul 68-73, Win vs. Clemson 78-60
After a tough loss to DePaul last week, Minnesota bounced back to win in dominating fashion against Clemson Monday night. The Golden Gophers improved to 4-4 on the season and sit just two spots above last place in the conference. The road is going to get harder for Richard Pitino’s squad as they start Big Ten play against Iowa and Ohio State. Both teams are riding high, combining for a 14-2 record on the season.
No. 9 Illinois (6-2, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 8; Last Week: Loss vs. Miami (FL) 79-81
A rough game at home against Miami did not do the Fighting Illini any favors. Miami has been a team struggling to win against Power 5 opponents and this is their first such win on the season. On the bright side, Kofi Cockburn continues to be making a statement for the Big Ten Freshman of the Year award. Expect a big test for the Illini when they face Maryland in College Park this weekend.
No. 8 Iowa (6-2, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 10; Last Week: Loss vs. San Diego St. (Neut.) 73-83, Win at Syracuse 68-54
All things considered, a win at the Carrier Dome is not easy for any team to do even more so when facing big injuries and setbacks. Iowa will need all the help they can get from Luka Garza when they travel to Ann Arbor on Friday.
No. 7 Penn State (7-1, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 6; Last Week: Win vs. Syracuse (Neut.) 85-64, Win vs. Wake Forest 76-54
There may not be a more polarizing team in the conference. Penn State has won at Georgetown (before they dismissed two players), crushed Syracuse, and smoked Wake Forest. However, the Nittany Lions’ loss to Ole Miss raised questions about the team’s ceiling. We’ll get answers this week: PSU heads to Ohio State, and then Maryland comes to Happy Valley on Tuesday.
No. 6 Purdue (5-3, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 9; Last Week: Win vs. #20 VCU (Neut.) 59-56, Loss vs. Florida St. (Neut.) 60-63, Win vs. #5 Virginia 69-40
The Boilermakers finished a challenging week with two wins in three games, culminating with a 29-point obliteration of top-five Virginia. Sasha Stefanovic (Crown Point) did his best Ryan Cline impression, knocking down 6-of-10 from three-point land. After a tough November, Matt Painter’s squad has a chance to string some wins together before an early January road trip.
No. 5 Michigan State (5-3, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 1; Last Week: Loss vs. #10 Duke 75-87
After two comfortable wins to round out MSU’s trip to Maui, the Spartan faithful were expecting a big performance from their team against Duke. Instead, the Blue Devils controlled the game from start to finish in East Lansing. The team that felt like the sure-fire Big Ten champion now looks like they may end up finishing 3rd or 4th. However, MSU has had an extremely tough schedule thus far, and thankfully for the Spartans, it lightens up during December. With Cassius Winston at the helm, MSU should get back on track quickly.
No. 4 Indiana (8-0, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 7; Last Week: Win vs. South Dakota St. 64-50, Win vs. #17 Florida St. 80-64
Indiana has proven that their ceiling might be higher than most analysts have believed, but right now no one knows exactly where the Hoosiers land by the end of the season. Wisconsin, a team they haven’t beaten in Madison in 20 years, will come as an expected win that will tell a lot about the strength of the Hoosiers this season.
No. 3 Michigan (7-1, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 4; Last Week: Win vs. #8 Gonzaga (Neut.) 82-64, Loss at #1 Louisville 43-58
Michigan has exceeded expectations thus far and lost to a very talented Louisville Cardinals team. They should not be worried. Juwan Howard has filled in as coach very nicely, and the team is shooting the lights out. Michigan is a serious contender this year, not only for the Big Ten title, but also for the NCAA title.
No. 2 Maryland (9-0, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 3; Last Week: Win vs. Harvard (Neut.) 80-73, Win vs. Marquette (Neut.) 84-63, Win vs. Notre Dame 72-51
Maryland is undefeated and could stay undefeated for a while due to their relatively relaxing December schedule. They do play at Seton Hall, but this Maryland team seems like they keep improving every game. The Terrapins are easily in the mix to be the potential Big Ten champion.
No. 1 Ohio State (8-0, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 1; Last Week: Win vs. Morgan State 90-57, Win at #7 North Carolina 74-49
Wow. Not only did the Buckeyes record a big non-conference win, they announced themselves as a national title contender on Wednesday night. SI’s Pat Forde tweeted that he can see OSU and Louisville face off on April 6 in Atlanta. OSU’s defense leads the Big Ten in PPG allowed (52.3) and opponent FG % (32.2%).
Featured Photo: IndianaHQ