It seems that every team in the country is vulnerable this season. Considering the home losses to unranked foes for Duke and Kentucky, Michigan State losing a second time this season, and Michigan’s absolute home run against North Carolina, the variability of the season will keep the season interesting from start to finish.
The Big Ten is down to four undefeated teams in Ohio State, Michigan, Maryland, and Indiana. At the very top, it looks like three of those four teams should be penciled as the top tier of the league. Indiana has a chance to be great, but they need to beat a couple of notable opponents, which they will have plenty of in the month of December.
November 29, 2019 Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings
No. 14 Nebraska (2-4, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 13; Last Week: Win vs. Southern 93-86, Loss vs. Washington State 71-82 (Neut.), Loss vs. George Mason 66-85 (Neut.)
After starting the season with back-to-back losses, Nebraska went on to win three straight games with a win over Washington State in the Cayman Islands Classic. The Cornhuskers then fell to George Mason by 19 points but came away with a third place finish after defeating South Florida. Fred Hoiberg’s team now goes on the road for three straight games to start December.
No. 13 Northwestern (3-3, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 14; Last Week: Win vs. Norfolk State 70-59, Win vs. Bradley 78-51 (Neut.), Loss vs. Pitt 59-72 (Neut.)
Northwestern went 2-1 during the past week, picking up victories against Norfolk State and Bradley while losing to Pittsburgh in the Fort Meyers Tip-off championship. The Wildcats currently sit at .500 on the season and can get some rest as they do not play again until Tuesday night at Boston College. However, after that game they run into a difficult stretch where they play Purdue and Michigan State for the first part of conference play.
No. 12 Minnesota (4-3, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 12; Last Week: Win vs. North Dakota 79-56
Minnesota dominated their way to a 79-56 victory over North Dakota in their only game this past week. With the victory, the Golden Gophers have now won back-to-back games and are back in action Friday against Depaul and then host Clemson Monday in the BigTen/ACC Challenge. Look for Richard Pitino’s team to gain momentum before they start conference play with two tough matchups against Iowa on the road and then Ohio State in the Barn.
(Tie) No. 10 Rutgers (5-1, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 11; Last Week: Win vs NJIT 85-58
Besides a not-so-great loss to St. Bonaventure, Rutgers is taking care of business. Although he has not started yet for Rutgers, junior Jacob Young has been quietly been the high utilized player for the Scarlet Knights. Keep an eye out for him as the season progresses.
(Tie) No. 10 Wisconsin (4-3, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 5; Last Week: Loss vs. Richmond 52-62 (Neut.), Loss vs. New Mexico 50-59 (Neut.)
A very tough week for the Badgers as they lose back-to-back games to Richmond and New Mexico in the Legends Classic. They road does not get easier for Greg Gard’s squad as they now have to travel to NC State for their Big Ten-ACC matchup followed by a home date with the Hoosiers.
No. 9 Purdue (3-2, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 9; Last Week: Win vs. Jacksonville State 81-49
Make no mistake, Purdue has a big few days coming up. Three big resume-building opportunities face the Boilermakers, starting with a neutral-site contest vs. #23 VCU. The defending champs, Virginia, come to Mackey Arena on Wednesday for a rematch from last year’s epic Elite Eight contest.
No. 8 Penn State (5-1, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 6; Last Week: Win vs. Yale 58-56, Loss vs. Ole Miss 72-74 (Neut.)
Penn State had it all going. They started 5-0 and had a 21-point lead against Ole Miss with 16 minutes left. At that moment, ESPN analyst Seth Greenberg guaranteed an NCAA Tournament spot for the Nittany Lions. PSU proceeded to gag away the lead, lose to the Rebels, and now coach Pat Chambers has to ensure his team bounces back and navigates a tough 5-game upcoming stretch, starting with a neutral site game against Syracuse.
No. 7 Iowa (4-1, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 10; Last Week: Win vs Cal Poly 85-59, Win vs. #12 Texas Tech 72-61 (Neut.)
Iowa was handed another blow with the loss of Indiana native Jack Nunge to a torn ACL. However, they responded impressively this week with a win against Texas Tech behind a great performance from Jordan Bohannon who went perfect from FT and sunk 4 threes. Time will tell if this is more a showing of how poorly Texas Tech played or if Iowa is going to be a force in the Big Ten this season.
No. 6 Illinois (6-1, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 8; Last Week: Win vs. Hampton 120-71, Win vs. Lindenwood 117-65
After a week of a resounding victories against a weak Hampton and Lindenwood team, the Illini will face their next real test against Miami at home. Expect another victory by the Illini, but we will learn a lot more when they face tougher competition at the end of the week when they travel to Maryland for their start of conference play. Reigning Big Ten POTW Kofi Cockburn is making a case to be the Big Ten Freshman of the Year so far.
No. 5 Indiana (6-0, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 7; Last Week: Win vs. Louisiana Tech 88-75
Indiana is one of the few teams in the Big Ten that people will say is performing better than expected. Nearly top to bottom, the rest of the conference has struggled early in the season, but the Hoosiers appear to have potential to make a run for the top of the conference. Florida State will be the first significant test for the new-look Hoosier squad.
No. 4 Michigan State (5-2, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 1; Last Week: Loss vs. Virginia Tech 66-71 (Neut.), Win vs. Georgia 93-85 (Neut.), Win vs. UCLA 75-62 (Neut.)
The Spartans seemed like the clear-cut best team in the Big Ten before the year started. However, the loss to Virginia Tech and the close victory against Georgia definitely casts shades of doubt on their conference title hopes this year. Their next game is against Duke in East Lansing. If the Spartans win, that would be a huge victory for their ranking as well as their confidence moving forward.
No. 3 Maryland (5-0, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 3; Last Week: Win vs. George Mason 86-63, Win vs. Temple 76-69 (Neut.)
In their toughest game of the year so far, the Terrapins got some amazing point guard play from Anthony Cowan Jr. Perhaps this could jump start his offensive abilities, as he’s underperformed this year so far. We’ll see if Cowan Jr. can stay consistent the rest of the year.
No. 2 Michigan (5-0, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 4; Last Week: Win vs. Houston Baptist 111-68, Win vs. Iowa State 83-76 (Neut.), Win vs. #6 North Carolina 73-64 (Neut.)
Talk about two huge wins for the Wolverines. The departures of Ignas Brazdeikis, Jordan Poole, and John Beilein haven’t messed with this team’s mojo so far. Michigan is shooting way better from deep this year. Eli Brooks is shooting 45.5% from three and logged a hefty 39 minutes in the victory against the Tar Heels. Michigan has put themselves in the mix for the conference title.
No. 1 Ohio State (6-0, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: No. 1; Last Week: Win vs. Purdue Fort Wayne 85-46, Win vs. Kent State 71-52
While the OSU fan base pays exponentially more attention to their football team, Chris Holtmann’s crew had another clean week on the hard-court. After one final tune-up, the Buckeyes head to Chapel Hill on Wednesday in a Big Ten/ACC heavyweight fight.
Featured Photo: IndianaHQ