We are just about one third of the way through the college basketball season so let’s take a look at how all of the teams in the Big Ten have been doing so far. The weird early part of the season conference games are over with and teams now have some cupcakes to dine on around the holidays.
I can’t promise you this will be an every week feature, but we’ll try and do this every so often to get the temperature of the Big Ten and see how the Badgers stack up. Without further ado...the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Power Rankings!
1) Purdue Boilermakers (9-1 overall, 1-1 Big Ten)
While Purdue was the No. 1 team in the country for ::checks calendar:: three days before losing, they are still the class of the conference at this point in the season. The loss at Rutgers was weird, but great Badgers teams know all about losing in New Jersey so maybe this is a good thing for the Boilermakers?
Purdue has a talented and deep roster with few, if any, holes. They have the most efficient offense in the country according to KenPom and Trevion Williams is No. 2 in KenPom’s player of the year rankings. Jaden Ivey is incredible, Zach Edey can’t stop getting rebounds...look, they’ll be fine.
Was enlightening to scout 7’4” sophomore big man, Zach Edey, twice last week.— Jon Chepkevich (@JonChep) December 6, 2021
Outlier size + soft touch make the Canadian a unique 2022 NBA Draft prospect.
Wildly productive in a <20 MPG role for No. 1 ranked Purdue.
15.5 PTS, 7.1 REB, 1.4 BLK, 75.1 TS% through 8 games. pic.twitter.com/hcCrJBUrls
2) Ohio State Buckeyes (8-2 overall, 2-0 Big Ten)
The Bucks looked pretty dang impressive over the weekend as they dismantled Wisconsin in Columbus. E.J. Liddell (No. 1 in KenPom’s player of the year rankings) is unstoppable and they have enough shooting where you’ll pay dearly if you try and double team him. Their wins over Duke and Seton Hall look great and they’ll have a chance to kick Kentucky (who has lost to the only two decent teams they’ve played) while they’re down this coming weekend.
3) Michigan State Spartans (9-2 overall, 2-0 Big Ten)
I wasn’t super high on MSU coming into the season, but surprise, surprise here we are talking about them being one of the top teams in the conference again. They only have losses to Kansas (No. 7 in AP Poll) and Baylor (No. 1 in AP Poll) while picking up wins against Louisville, Loyola Chicago, UConn and Butler (on the road).
Joey Hauser isn’t having a very good year and that’s funny to me.
4) Wisconsin Badgers (8-2 overall, 1-1 Big Ten)
While a blowout loss to Ohio State over the weekend temporarily dampened the enthusiasm around this team, I’m already over it and excited to see them back on the court. Watching Johnny Davis play is truly an honor. Chucky Hepburn’s defense makes me want to be a better father and husband. Brad Davison is perfect as wise, senior leader who has seen it all while still being able to pick his spots to take over games without stepping on the young guys’ toes. Tyler Wahl stuffs stat sheets like Thanksgiving turkeys.
We’re one month into the college hoops season.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) December 13, 2021
MY ONE-MONTH IN ALL-AMERICAN TEAM:
EJ Liddell, Ohio State
Ochai Agabji, Kansas
Johnny Davis, Wisconsin
Paolo Banchero, Duke
Jabari Smith, Auburn
They’re a fun team to watch and root for and you haven’t been able to say that about every recent UW team.
5) Illinois Fighting Illini (7-3 overall, 2-0 Big Ten)
Not 100% sure what to think about this Illini team. Their best win is...at Iowa? Home against Notre Dame? I don’t know, but I do know that neither of those wins are particularly impressive. They’re only ahead of the next two teams because, unlike them, they’ve actually played a schedule with some challenging teams on it.
Point guard Andre Curbelo has missed the last five games with an undisclosed injury, after missing the season opener due to a concussion suffered in an exhibition game. His play-making has been missed but his penchant for turnovers, presumably, has not. Kofi Cockburn is still a monster down low, but I think this team misses Ayo Dosunmu (Chicago Bulls) and Adam Miller (LSU Tigers) more than they thought.
6) Indiana Hoosiers (8-2 overall, 1-1 Big Ten)
The Hoosiers are definitely a more pleasant team to watch with Mike Woodson at the helm, but it will be interesting to see if the results in conference play are any better. Indiana lost to Syracuse (in double OT) and Wisconsin, so their best win is a home triumph over St. John’s by two points and their second best win is over Marshall. IU’s two losses are also their only two road games played so far, so this team still has a lot to prove.
Trayce Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson have been a very nice duo down low.
7) Minnesota Golden Gophers (8-1 overall, 1-1 Big Ten)
The Gophers cobbled together a roster of castoffs and never-weres this offseason under new coach Ben Johnson and against literally every prognostication suggesting otherwise...are winning basketball games. Minnesota’s schedule at the beginning of the year was putrid but recently they’ve gone on the road and beaten a good Mississippi State team and Michigan while hanging tough with Michigan State at The Barn.
Can this team keep it up all year? I doubt it...but I also didn’t know if they’d reach eight wins total all season so what they hell do I know!?!
8) Michigan Wolverines (6-4 overall, 1-1 Big Ten)
What a monumental disappointment this team has been so far. The talent they have is undeniable, but it just hasn’t meshed together like last year’s team. For the second straight year, Juwan Howard brought in a veteran, transfer point guard, but DeVante’ Jones hasn’t worked out nearly as well as Mike Smith did last year.
michigan basketball stinks lmaooooooooooooooooooooooo— Down Bad Sav (@B1Gsad) December 12, 2021
Losing to Arizona and UNC isn’t a terrible thing in a vacuum, but to do so by 18 and 19 points respectively? Yikes. Also, losing by 10...at home...to Minnesota is just embarrassing. Freshman Caleb Houstan is still very much a project and senior Brandon Johns remains an enigma. Hunter Dickinson looks pretty solid, though, and Moussa Diabate does at least one thing a game that makes your jaw drop.
The really hilarious thing about all of this is that no one at Michigan cares because the football team beat Ohio State, won the Big Ten and is now preparing for Georgia in the Playoff. No one is going notice the basketball team for another month!
9) Northwestern Wildcats (7-2 overall, 1-0 Big Ten)
I thought the ‘Cats could be sneaky good this year and so far I have been proven absolutely right! Before I break my arm patting myself on the back, it should be noted that their only decent win is at Maryland...a team that has already fired their coach this year. Big man Pete Nance has looked great and might (maybe, possibly, finally) be tapping into all the potential that he has as a senior.
10) Iowa Hawkeyes (7-3 overall, 0-2 Big Ten)
This team is trash. They’ve lost their last three games (Purdue, Illinois, Iowa State) because they finally played someone with a pulse and their only respectable win is over a down UVa squad, who they only beat by one. This is the exact Hawkeyes team you always imagine: electric offense, can’t guard your grandma. Speaking of grandparents, Jordan Bohannon is shooting the ball very well this year. Sophomore big/wing Keegan Murray is looking every bit of an NBA prospect too.
11) Maryland Terrapins (6-4 overall, 0-1 Big Ten)
After starting the season 5-3, Mark Turgeon got canned. I know the official statement said he resigned or it was mutual or whatever but, come on...we all know what happened. This is another team, along with Michigan, that has been very disappointing to me, personally. I love Fatts Russell and he deserves better than being down here with the Rutgers’ and Nebraskas’ of the Big Ten.
Nice win against Florida on Sunday though. That was shocking.
12) Rutgers Scarlet Knights (5-5 overall, 1-1 Big Ten)
Beat No. 1 Purdue. Lose to Lafayette, who is currently rated as the No. 302 team by KenPom. That is how the season has been going for the Scarlet Knights. I’m afraid this team just isn’t very good and nothing Ron Harper does is going to change that.
RUTGERS UPSETS NO. 1 PURDUE ON A HALF COURT BUZZER-BEATER pic.twitter.com/pZ1wtMgPqy— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 10, 2021
13) Penn State Nittany Lions (5-5 overall, 0-2 Big Ten)
I’m going to pass on talking about Penn State hoops, but John Harrar is a wonderful rebounder.
14) Nebraska Cornhuskers (5-6 overall, 0-2 Big Ten)
This team is godawful and might not win a game in conference all season. Freshman Bryce McGowens is the truth though. He leads the team in points (16.2 per game) and rebounds (6.4 per game) and is second in assists (1.7 per game) while taking, what I can only assume are, wildly irresponsible shots from beyond the arc (10-of-49 on the season) but not turning the ball over. He also makes most of his free throws and gets to the line at a better rate than most players in the country. He can play on my team any day.