Big Ten Power Rankings: Indiana Still Up Top, Wisconsin Continues Climb

Jamie Sabau

The past week was just another typical seven days in the Big Ten with overtimes, buzzer-beaters and upsets galore. Indiana continued the trend of dropping the No. 1 ranking like a bad habit, Michigan is still hoping its trip to Madison was a dream and don't look now, but Michigan State is making a charge to take the conference crown. With just around seven games to go in the regular season, it is anybody's guess who will be left standing at the top.

RECORD (Overall, Big Ten) LAST WEEK (Change) COMMENTS
1. INDIANA HOOSIERS 21-3,
9-2
1 (--) Sure, Indiana had a tough loss to Illinois, but the game was in Champaign and the Fighting Illini are much better than their record indicates. The Hoosiers were able to bounce back with a blowout 81-68 victory over slumping Ohio State. Indiana's dominating performance over the Buckeyes in Columbus was just enough for me to keep them in the top spot; not to mention, Indiana has a victory over Michigan State to hang its hat on right now.
2. MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS 20-4,
9-2
3 (+2) The dominant play of Michigan State's starting five has propelled the Spartans into a tie for first in the Big Ten. Tom Izzo's club came away with two good wins last week over Minnesota and Purdue. The biggest concern I have with the Spartans right now is their health with Keith Appling, Gary Harris, Branden Dawson and Travis Trice all nursing injuries. If the Spartans' core group of players can stay healthy enough, Michigan State might be the team to beat come March.
3. MICHIGAN WOLVERINES 21-3,
8-3
2 (-1) Just a week after getting embarrassed by Indiana and getting knocked out of the No. 1 ranking, Michigan gets a blow to the gut with Wisconsin's miracle overtime win. It will be interesting to see how the Wolverines respond in a huge game at Michigan State on Tuesday.
4. WISCONSIN BADGERS 17-7,
8-3
5 (+1) Do you believe in miracles? Ben Brust does. With a pair of overtime wins in the past week, Wisconsin finds itself in a tie for second place. Just when I was ready to write off the Badgers' chances of winning the Big Ten they go and do something like beat a top-five team for the second time this year... and totally redeem themselves. ("Dumb and Dumber," anybody?) Not to mention beating an Iowa squad for the first time in two seasons. Wisconsin has a pretty favorable remaining schedule with only three ranked opponents left. If the Badgers can stay hot after stunning the Wolverines, they have a decent shot of making a run for the top spot in the Big Ten.
5. OHIO STATE BUCKEYES 17-6,
7-4
4 (-1) Ohio State had a chance to prove itself last week with games against Michigan and Indiana. The result: two losses, including a 13-point defeat to Indiana on Sunday. Despite Deshaun Thomas' efforts, the Buckeyes are slipping in the standings and have a pretty difficult slate of games to finish up the year.
6. ILLINOIS FIGHTING ILLINI 17-8,
4-7
10 (+4) Illinois is starting to look like the team that started 12-0 way back in 2012. Thanks to a blown assignment, the Fighting Illini were able to hit a wide-open layup and take down No. 1 Indiana in the game's waning seconds. They followed that up with a 57-53 win over No. 18 Minnesota in Minneapolis. Illinois' core of Brandon Paul, D.J. Richardson and Tyler Griffey are playing well and are finally starting to see some results. With only two ranked opponents left on its schedule, Illinois has a good shot of putting a string of wins together and developing a good case to make the NCAA tournament.
7. MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS 17-7,
5-6
6 (-1) It seems just like yesterday that Minnesota was 15-1 and on the verge of a special season. But now the Gophers have lost six of their last eight games and are under the .500 mark in conference play. Although Minnesota' struggling right now, I believe the combination of good coaching from Tubby Smith and the talent of Andre Hollins will be enough to keep the Gophers afloat long enough to make the NCAA tournament and maybe even a deep run in the Big Ten Tournament.
8. IOWA HAWKEYES 15-9,
4-7
8 (--) Iowa is still a tough challenge for any team in the Big Ten -- just ask Wisconsin. The Hawkeyes did their best to down the Badgers in the Kohl Center but just couldn't hang on in overtime. This Iowa team is a lot more dangerous than their record suggests. The Hawkeyes have lost four conference games by less than five points. They win those games, and all of a sudden Iowa is in the top four in the Big Ten. Things just haven't worked out for Fran McCaffery's team this year. Maybe the Hawkeyes can make some noise in the NIT.
9. NORTHWESTERN WILDCATS 13-11,
4-7
7 (-2) I know Northwestern just lost badly to Iowa, but I just got done saying how good that Hawkeyes team really is. Northwestern ran Purdue out of the gym just over a week ago, which is why the Wildcats are ahead of Purdue despite having the worse conference record.
10. PURDUE BOILERMAKERS 12-12,
5-6
9 (-1) Good news for Purdue fans last week: the Boilermakers got to play Penn St. Bad news for Purdue fans last week: the Boilermakers had to play Michigan State. Purdue continues to get big games out of Terone Johnson and A.J. Hammons, but it just can't beat anyone in the upper tier of the Big Ten.
11. NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS 12-12,
3-8
11 (--) Boy, with a 14-point shellacking over Penn State, Nebraska might be showing signs of a late-season run... not. The Cornhuskers got their third conference win of the season courtesy of the inept Penn State group of people who call themselves a basketball team. Two of Nebraska's three Big Ten wins this season have come against the Nittany Lions.
12. PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS 8-15,
0-11
12 (--) Um, yeah. Penn State is waiting for March to come just so it doesn't have to play basketball anymore. The Nittany Lions had their best chance of getting their first conference win of the year against Nebraska, but proved once and for all that they are indeed the worst team in the country's best conference.
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