The Big Ten conference is tough as nails this year and we are entering the home stretch. My Big Ten Power Rankings are all sorts of crazy this week.
1. Indiana: Blew a big lead late at Illinois to drop their second conference game of the season. Rebounded on Sunday with an impressive win at Ohio State, scoring 81 points in the process against a great defensive team. 9-2 in the league.
2. Michigan State: The highest the Spartans have been all year in my rankings. They are now 9-2 and have a ‘prove it’ game against Michigan at home this week. Beat the Wolverines and there are no more questions. They play ranked teams in four of their next five outings, or likely five out of six as Wisconsin could be ranked come Monday. 9-2 in league.
3. Michigan: Two losses in three games for the Wolverines after they got to #1 in the nation for the first time since the Fab Five were on campus. How they lost to Wisconsin seems almost criminal. The Badgers were down three and the Wolverines didn’t foul and Ben Brust shot a 40-footer at the buzzer and made it to send the game to overtime. Perhaps I am becoming more of a proponent of fouling when leading by three. 8-3 in league.
4. Wisconsin: Only because they are playing better than Ohio State right now, but the Buckeyes beat the Badgers in Columbus earlier this year. The rematch in Madison is coming up soon. I give Bo Ryan credit; he produces results, even though he is unlikable. 8-3 in league.
5. Ohio State: I am impressed that the Buckeyes have hung around as long as they have this year, given their reliance on Deshaun Thomas. 7-4 in league.
6. Illinois: The Illini make a big move. Beating #1 Indiana at home and showing some heart (for the first time in at least two years) in the process then rallying from yet another double-digit deficit to beat Minnesota on the road on Sunday moves them here, along with Minnesota’s continued poor play. 4-7 in league.
7. Minnesota: Just barely. I suspect they keep sliding as they are at Wisconsin Thursday and at Iowa Sunday. 5-6 in league.
8. Iowa: The Hawkeyes won at home against Northwestern and Devyn Marble finally had a game. The Hawks were so close to a key win in recent weeks and while this one will not pad the RPI rankings, it helps in the confidence department. Beat Penn State on Thursday and then Minnesota at home on Sunday and the Hawks will be in the seventh spot next week, or perhaps sixth. 4-7 in league.
9. Purdue: They may only be favored in one more game all year. 5-6 in league.
10. Northwestern: 4-7 in league
11. Nebraska: 3-8 in league.
12: Penn State: 0-11 in league…and please don’t let their lone league win this year be against Iowa on Thursday.