Big Ten Power Rankings: Pre-Madness Edition

USA TODAY Sports

Indiana won its first outright Big Ten title since 1993 this weekend, but is it Ohio State that's primed for a lengthy run in March?

RECORD (Overall, Big Ten) LAST WEEK (Change) COMMENTS
1. INDIANA HOOSIERS 26-5,
14-4
1 (--) Phew, that was close! Indiana better be thankful there was a draft inside the Crisler Center just strong enough to blow Jordan Morgan's last-second putback attempt off of the rim. With their 72-71 escape from Michigan, the Hoosiers clinched the regular-season Big Ten title outright for the first time since 1993 -- no small feat in the country's most competitive conference. Although Indiana did lose pretty handily at home to Ohio State on Tuesday, the Hoosiers still did win the Big Ten and that, obviously, says it all.
2. OHIO STATE BUCKEYES 23-7,
13-5
5 (+3) Man, Ohio State really gave meaning to the phrase "late-season push." The Buckeyes are currently riding a five-game winning streak and if it weren't for that darn draft in the Crisler Center, Thad Matta's club would've been in the mix for a share of the Big Ten title. Either way, Ohio State has been ripping off some impressive wins lately, including a nice 67-58 victory on the road at Indiana and another one over Michigan State last Sunday. Deshaun Thomas carried the Buckeyes with 18 points against the Hoosiers and then ended his regular season with 19 points in a 68-55 win over Illinois on Sunday. Watch for Thomas and the No. 2-seeded Buckeyes to make a deep run in the Big Ten Tournament this weekend.
3. MICHIGAN WOLVERINES 25-6,
12-6
3 (--) Michigan has been having some tough luck its last couple of Sundays. First, the Wolverines lose to bottom-feeding Penn State two Sundays ago and then this last Sunday, Michigan had an Indiana win in its grasp before letting it slip away in the final minutes. Michigan still has a ton of talent with Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., though, so watch out for these guys in the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments.
4. MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS 24-7,
13-5
2 (-2) I know you are wondering how in the world I can justify putting Michigan State down to No. 4 after two wins last weekend. I can do it like this: sure, MSU beat No. 22 UW on Thursday, but it seems like almost anybody can do that these days, and yes, the Spartans also beat Northwestern by 10. But beating a team who has lost five players by only 10 is not very impressive at all. Plus, both Ohio State and Michigan have beaten Michigan State in the last two weeks. Tom Izzo sure believes his team can make some noise in the postseason, as he said in his stirring postgame speech to the fans Sunday, but I'm not sold.
5. WISCONSIN BADGERS 21-10,
12-6
4 (-1) This is getting too ugly to watch. First you go and get embarrassed in East Lansing at the hands of Michigan State in a game where the Badgers couldn't have hit the ocean from the beach, and then you nearly go to overtime with one of the worst teams in the conference? Sure, Traevon Jackson had a great buzzer-beater, but Penn State is a team a contender should be blowing out of the water. Bo Ryan's club is trending down right now and I really don't like the Badgers' chances Friday whether, they play Michigan or Penn State.
6.IOWA HAWKEYES 20-11,
9-9
8 (+2) Iowa finished its season off strong last week with wins against Illinois and Nebraska. The Hawkeyes have been playing much better as of late, winning six of their last eight games. Roy Devyn Marble continues to play well and if Iowa can get production from Aaron White like it did against Illinois when he scored 19 points, the Hawkeyes could play sleeper this weekend..
7. PURDUE BOILERMAKERS 15-16,
8-10
9 (+2) Purdue started its last week of the regular season with a close 80-75 loss to Michigan on Wednesday but rebounded on Saturday with a 16-point win over Minnesota in its regular-season finale. Purdue is playing well right now, with a nice win over Wisconsin at the Kohl Center two weeks ago as the highlight of the season so far. Purdue will have to continue to play well at the United Center and make a run to the championship game if it hopes to make the Big Dance this year.
8. ILLINOIS FIGHTING ILLINI 21-11,
8-10
7(-1) Three weeks ago, it seemed Illinois was going to make a late-season surge and build a strong case for an NCAA tournament berth. Now, the Fighting Illini have lost three of their last four, including a disappointing loss to Iowa on Tuesday. Illinois has the talent to be dangerous with D.J. Richardson and Brandon Paul, but its poor showing in the last two weeks of the regular season may have eliminated those NCAA tournament chances.
9. MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS 20-11,
8-10
6 (-3) Ugh. Last week was one to forget for Minnesota. The Golden Gophers went into Nebraska and then into Purdue and lost both games, capping off a catastrophic end to what once seemed like a good season for Tubby Smith's crew. Now, Minnesota will have to face a pesky Illinois team in the first round on Thursday, and even if it does find a way to win that game, the Golden Gophers will have to take on No. 1-seeded Indiana. Good luck.
10. NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS 14-17,
5-13
10 (--) Nebraska was able to come away with a big win at home on Wednesday over Minnesota on the back of a strong performance from Brandon Ubel, who scored the Cornhuskers' last 10 points of the game. Nebraska was unable to follow that game with a win, though, losing to Iowa Saturday, 74-60, despite a 22-point effort from Ray Gallegos.
11. PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS 10-20,
2-16
12 (+1) SUCCESS! Penn State no longer has to hang out in the Big Ten dungeon after a 6-point win over Northwestern on Thursday and nearly pulling off another upset against Wisconsin on Saturday. The Nittany Lions have been keeping games much closer in the latter end of their conference schedule and have proved to be dangerous at times. I am not saying Penn State is going to make it to the semis of the Big Ten tournament, but hey, if it were to happen in any conference, it would be this one.
12. NORTHWESTERN WILDCATS 13-18,
4-14
11 (-1) Well, this is embarrassing. You must have done something pretty god-awful to be sitting underneath Penn State in these standings. Oh wait, the Wildcats lost their last eight games, including a loss to Penn State on Thursday. Northwestern has really suffered from losing so many players to injuries and it is now showing. Definitely a season to forget for this program.

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