Welcome to another season of glorious college basketball. Summer days are behind us and now we get to watch college basketball on nearly every day of the week.
Last year, the Big Ten was one of the most impressive conferences in the nation and ultimately sent a league high 8 teams to the big dance. There is a notable drop off in talent this year, which gives teams like Indiana and Wisconsin a fighter’s chance because the conference is simply not as deep as it was a year ago.
Check out our first edition of the Big Ten power rankings below.
Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings
No. 14 Nebraska (0-1, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: NR; Last Week: Loss vs UC Riverside 47-66
The start of the Fred Hoiberg era at Nebraska did not go as planned as the Cornhuskers lost at home to UC Riverside by 19 points. The Highlanders held a four point lead at halftime and outscored Nebraska 34-19 during the second half. The Cornhuskers were decimated on the boards, getting out rebounded by 20 and giving up 13 offensive rebounds. Hoiberg’s team has a chance to shake off the early season stumbles with a match up against Southern Utah Saturday night. The Thunderbirds are coming into the contest off a 110-66 blowout of the Bethesda Flames.
No. 13 Northwestern (0-0, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: NR; Last Week: No game
Northwestern was picked to finish last in the Big Ten for this season. After last year’s 13-19 campaign, the Wildcats look to get the program back on track for their first winning season since the 2016-2017 season. Chris Collins’ squad lost their top three scorers from last season after the departure of Vic Law, Derek Pardon and Ryan Taylor. Look for A.J. Turner to carry the scoring load for the Wildcats as he returns off a last season’s 7.7 points per game average.
No. 12 Rutgers (1-0, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: NR; Last Week: Win vs Bryant 73-71
Fourth year head coach Steve Pikiell has finally had a top 10 finish in the Big Ten. After being at the very bottom of the pack his first two years, there is some growth with the program. The question for Rutgers this year is whether or not they can remain in the middle of the pack for the Big Ten, especially considering there are teams in the Big Ten this year that quite frankly don’t quite match up with the rest of the league. So far, the start has not been great as they narrowly defeat Bryant in a one-possession game, despite being the 20+ point favorite.
No. 11 Penn State (1-0, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: NR; Last Week: Win vs Maryland Eastern-Shore 84-46
Six players scored in double figures in PSU’s season-opening win, including once Hoosier guard Curtis Jones. Forward Lamar Stevens will likely find himself on the all-Big Ten first team when the season ends in March. Can he do enough to elevate the Nittany Lions in a congested middle of the conference?
No. 10 Iowa (0-0, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: NR; Last Week: No game
Iowa took a big hit this season with the loss of Jordan Bohannon to a possible season-ending injury and Isaiah Moss transferring. The Hawkeyes need to get productivity with new additions early and can make a tournament appearance if they do. Predictions say that Iowa will struggle in Big Ten conference play this year.
No. 9 Illinois (1-0, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: NR; Last Week: Win against Nicholls St. 78-70 (OT)
No one really knows how strong Illinois will be this year. Just like Maryland, they have not been living up to their expectations in recent years. They do return 4 of 5 starters and add Kofi Cockburn a top 50 recruit this season. We hope to find more about this team early in the season, but we wouldn’t be surprised either way they lie in the Big Ten especially after an overtime win against Nicholls State to open the season.
No. 8 Indiana (1-0, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: NR; Last Week: Win vs Western Illinois 98-65
Indiana took a tough hit with the loss of Juwan Morgan and Romeo Langford this past season. The addition of Brunk, Jackson-Davis, and Franklin add depth to the team along with having Jerome Hunter back, but the top end talent will not be the same as last season. Indiana looks to finally make it to the tournament under head coach Archie Miller. Can they do so in a Big Ten that has lost talent as a conference-whole?
No. 7 Minnesota (1-0, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: NR; Last Week: Win vs Cleveland State 85-50
Minnesota began year seven under Richard Pitino with a dominating win Tuesday night against Cleveland State. The Golden Gophers shot 54.3 percent from the field and close to 45 percent from the three-point line. Minnesota’s defense held the Vikings to shoot 15.8 percent from deep and forced 17 turnovers in the victory. The Gophers are looking for back-to-back wins to begin for the fifth consecutive season as they host the Oklahoma Sooners inside The Barn.
No. 6 Wisconsin (0-1, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: NR; Last Week: Loss vs #20 St. Mary’s (Neut.) 63-65 (OT)
Wisconsin opens the season with an overtime thriller in South Dakota. Although they were unable to pull away with the victory, the team showed early on that they have enough of the returning talent to remain as a competitive team this season. How will the Badgers play without Happ?
No. 4 (Tie) Purdue (1-0, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: NR; Last Week: Win against UW Green Bay 79-57
Transfer Jahaad Proctor tried doing his best Carsen Edwards impression in game #1, dropping 26 points on 11-17 shooting for the Boilers. Purdue’s next couple games won’t be easy, with Texas coming to Mackey Arena and then a mid-week road game at Marquette.
No. 4 (Tie) Michigan (1-0, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: NR; Last Week: Win vs Appalachian State 79-71
Many people are underrating Michigan after the departures of Jordan Poole and John Beilein. Although their bench seems a little thin, the Wolverines still have Teske, Livers, and their leader Zavier Simpson. Once these guys mesh, they will definitely give teams like OSU, Maryland, and MSU a run for their money. We simply can’t overlook the talent that is still on this roster.
No. 3 Ohio State (1-0, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: NR; Last Week: Win against Cincinnati 64-56
The 18th-ranked Buckeyes started off the season with a well-contested win over an in-state opponent. Junior forward Kyle Young put up a 14-point, 13-rebound double double, while highly-regarded freshman DJ Carton scored nine and grabbed five boards. Next Wednesday, OSU hosts Villanova in a Top-25 match up.
No. 2 Maryland (1-0, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: NR; Last Week: Win vs Holy Cross 95-71
The departure of Bruno Fernando will be a major loss to the Terps, but they enter the season with still a young roster and big expectations. Maryland has not lived up to expectations yet, but they have lately been projected to be competing for the top of the Big Ten and deep tournament runs.
No. 1 Michigan State (0-1, 0-0 B1G)
Previous: NR; Last Week: Loss vs #2 Kentucky (Neut.) 62-69
We shouldn’t discredit Kentucky’s Tyrese Maxey for his performance, however some of those three pointers seemed a little lucky. Michigan State missed open shots late which could’ve made things way more interesting. Either way, this team still looks fantastic and is surely poised for a deep run in March. With teams like Maryland and Michigan losing key players to the NBA, many feel like the Big Ten is Michigan State’s to lose.
Featured Photo: IndianaHQ