(Photo Credit: IndianaHQ)
The Big Ten continues to receive kudos for being one of the top conferences in the country. After an 3-11 defeat last year, the conference finished 7-7 in the Big Ten / ACC Challenge. Teams across 1 through 14 in the league have had impressive non-conference wins against other Power Six teams.
Unique to the Big Ten is the depth of teams. Even Rutgers, who we have had at the bottom of the list for the previous weeks’ power rankings pulled off an impressive road win at Miami. Penn State who struggled mightily early on found a way to beat #13 Virginia Tech at home.
With Big Ten play starting as early as this evening, teams will play two of their 20-game conference gauntlet before completing their non-conference duties. Indiana, for example, hosts Northwestern at home on Saturday and then visits State College on Tuesday. Near the beginning of the new year, teams will go into full on conference play.
Let’s jump into the rankings for this week.
Big Ten Power Rankings: November 30th, 2018
|Michigan is no question the hottest team in the conference. Some people may have thought the victory over Villanova is not that great anymore due to the defending champs’ recent struggles. Michigan proved all the doubters wrong by stomping UNC in Ann Arbor. We will see if Michigan can continue their impressive defensive abilities against Purdue on Saturday.
|Still undefeated, the Hawkeyes struggled against Pitt before eventually emerging victorious. Their league-leading 77.6% from the free throw line has helped them in close games. Already a clear Big Ten surprise, Iowa could rise to the top of the conference with wins over Wisconsin and MSU, if Michigan loses.
|Both Cassius Winston and Josh Langford struggled in Louisville, yet the team barely lost in overtime. They also defeated a formidable Texas team in Vegas after annihilating UCLA. This team is still fantastic, and I expect to see them in the top 3 at the end of the season.
|The badgers played impressively against Virginia and NC State this week. In a brutal defensive battle, Wisconsin lost to a trending upward UVA team led by Tony Bennett for the Battle of Atlantis finals. They bounced back with a victory against NC State at home. Happ and Trice are one of the highest scoring duos in the league.
|Allowing Syracuse to shoot almost 50 percent from the field led to a disappointing 10 point defeat for the Buckeyes for the Wednesday. Expect Ohio State to continue to stay ranked, as well as bounce back against Minnesota on Sunday.
|Maryland is 6-1. However, their fight in the loss to Virginia perhaps told a lot more about the Terps than any of their wins. Still, the top-25 squad needs to record some wins to bolster their tournament resume. I expect them to beat Penn State. How will they fare Thursday night in West Lafayette?
|Purdue had a huge opportunity to avenge its loss against Virginia Tech in its contest with Florida State on Wednesday. However, a last second basket from the Seminoles gave the Boilermakers its second loss of the season. On the bright side, Carsen Edwards is averaging 25 points per game in 32 minutes per contest.
|The win over Marquette feels like eons ago. What has IU done lately? Besides the rout at Duke, IU underwhelmed against UT Arlington and UC Davis. If the Hoosiers lose either Big Ten game this week, expect fans to become increasingly frustrated.
|I think it’s an understatement to say Nebraska bounced back after the Texas Tech loss. The Cornhuskers should be overflowing with confidence after their massive victory over Clemson on the road. Most importantly, their star James Palmer Jr. played very well. And his fellow senior companion Isaac Copeland had a great game as well. If these two leaders continue to perform at a high level, they could cast serious doubt on conference champion contenders and become contenders themselves.
|Minnesota had a great chance to prove themselves as Big Ten contenders the other day versus Boston College, a formidable ACC opponent. Unfortunately, they fell short. Then again, they shot less than 30% from the field that game which is pretty hard to do. They no doubt still have potential to cause problems for other conference teams, but for now, they seem like a bottom half team.
|There is no question that Penn State earned a marquee victory against a top-15 ranked opponent in Virginia Tech Tuesday. However, the Nittany Lion starters combined for just 29 points in the contest. It’s evident that Penn State needs more from its starters against Maryland Saturday, and Indiana Tuesday.
|After a disappointing loss to Fresno State, the Wildcats have won three in a row including a win against Georgia Tech where at times Northwestern held a 28 point lead. With contests against both Michigan and Indiana this upcoming week, the Wildcats have a chance to make some early Big Ten noise.
|Steve Pikiell has the Scarlet Knights playing at a pretty high level considering they traveled to Miami and defeated the Hurricanes. Although an ugly game, Rutgers pulled the road win with impressive performances from Geo Baker and Eugene Omoruyi who are both averaging over 15 points per game this season.
|Year two under Brad Underwood has gotten off to an inauspicious start. The Illini have lost five games, while no one else in the conference has fallen more than twice. One area for improvement: rebounding, where they rank dead last in the conference (33.1 RPG).