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It has been an interesting start to 2019 regarding conference play. Maryland, Purdue, and Minnesota racked up major victories, and Nebraska, Iowa, and Wisconsin faced major losses. Our Hoosiers managed to defeat Illinois, however Robert Phinisee is still dealing with a concussion. This intense, volatile conference is clearly stacked. Nevertheless, it is not entirely clear who will come out on top this year. As of right now though, here’s what the staff thinks.

Big Ten Power Rankings: January 4th, 2019

1

Michigan

14-0 (3-0)

Last: 1
Ho-hum, another perfect week for Michigan. The Wolverines used authoritative second halves to defeat Binghamton and Penn State, and now the #21 Hoosiers come to town. Something to keep an eye out for: Michigan has the 7th-lowest turnover rate in the country (going into Thursday).

  • Win against Binghamton 74-52
  • Win against Penn State 68-55

2

Michigan State

12-2 (3-0)

Last: 2
Thanks to shooting a blistering 59 percent from the field, as well as 21 first-half points from Nick Ward, the Spartans won their seventh straight contest Wednesday against Northwestern.

  • Win against Northern Illinois 88-60
  • Win against Northwestern 81-55

T3

Indiana

12-2 (3-0)

Last: 4
Without starting PG Rob Phinisee (concussion), IU outplayed and, maybe more impressively, outworked Illinois. Even though Phinisee will miss the game on Sunday at #2 Michigan, can the Hoosiers find a way to pull off the upset?

  • Win against Illinois 73-65

T3

Ohio State

12-1 (2-0)

Last: 5
After a month away from Big 10 play, the Buckeyes can make some major conference noise Saturday if it defeats Michigan State.

  • Win against High Point 82-64

T5

Minnesota

12-2 (2-1)

Last: 8
A huge road win Thursday against Wisconsin proves that the Golden Gophers belong among the Big 10 Elite. How far Minnesota can go depends on the play of Amir Coffey who had a team high of 21 points versus the Badgers.

  • Win against Mount Saint Mary’s 71-53
  • Win at #22 Wisconsin 59-52

T5

Wisconsin

10-4 (2-1)

Last: 3
Wisconsin just lost two close games against tough opponents, one of them being against Minnesota. It’s critical for them to bounce back at Penn State and against Purdue, or else they’ll probably find themselves outside the top 25 the rest of the year.

  • Loss at Western Kentucky 83-76
  • Loss against Minnesota 59-52

7

Maryland

11-3 (2-1)

Last: 10
The win on Wednesday against #24 Nebraska said a lot about the fight in this team. Sophomore Bruno Fernando has continued to dominate the paint on both ends, recording double-digit rebounds each of his last three games, and leading the league in blocks per game.

  • Win against Radford 78-64
  • Win against #24 Nebraska 74-72

8

Purdue

9-5 (2-1)

Last: 9
Huge win for Purdue at home against a tough Iowa squad because the next two games are at Michigan State and at Wisconsin. Look for an increase in Aaron Wheeler’s playing time. He might be a huge factor in these next few tough conference games.

  • Win against Belmont 73-62
  • Win against #25 Iowa 86-70

9

Nebraska

11-3 (1-2)

Last: 6
Two early big 10 losses against both Minnesota and Maryland show that at the moment, Nebraska is just a middle of the pack Big Ten team. Tim Miles has a bit of work to do with this Husker squad if they look to finish higher in the Big Ten, but with how the conference stacks, they may still make the dance.

  • Win against Southwest Minnesota 79-38
  • Loss at Maryland 72-74

10

Iowa

11-3 (0-3)

Last: 6
While most people would have predicted a 1-1 week for Iowa, the way they played was very disappointing. The Hawkeyes struggled mightily against KenPom #329 Bryant, and then they were obliterated by Purdue. The Big Ten might be overwhelming for this team that seems to lack toughness.

  • Win against Bryant 72-67
  • Loss at Purdue 70-86

11

Northwestern

9-5 (0-3)

Last: 11
Most would say that the Wildcats are the second best winless Big 10 team; however, a 26 point loss to Michigan State Wednesday doesn’t do the team any justice. Expect Northwestern to win its first conference game Sunday against Illinois.

  • Win against Columbia 75-54
  • Loss at #8 Michigan State 55-81

12

Penn State

7-7 (0-3)

Last: 12
It’s amazing how Penn State defeated Virginia Tech earlier this year. Whatever the case, PSU is a bottom-feeder in this gauntlet conference. The loss against Michigan doesn’t help their cause.

  • Win against UMBC 74-52
  • Loss at #2 Michigan 68-55

13

Rutgers

7-5 (0-2)

Last: 14
Rutgers has come close a few times this year against tough opponents. Unfortunately, they’ve all resulted in losses. It helps that they picked up a few non-conference victories. However, it’s unlikely that they’ll survive in conference play.

  • Win against Maine 70-55

14

Illinois

4-10 (0-3)

Last: 13
The Illini put up a fight at Assembly Hall yesterday, but the second half proved that Illinois has a long way to go. Brad Underwood seems to have left his high-flying offense at Oklahoma State.

  • Loss against FAU 73-71 (OT)
  • Loss at #21 Indiana 65-73
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