Big Ten Power Rankings: 1/20

Story posted January 20, 2014 in Sports, CommRadio by Jeff Jezewski and Josiah Bates

1. Michigan State (17-1, 6-0 Big Ten)

Last Week: (W) @ Northwestern 54-40 (W) @ Illinois 78-62

This Week: Indiana (12-6, 2-3), Michigan (13-4, 5-0)

Michigan State managed to stay atop of the rankings, by defeating Northwestern and Illinois last week. Without Adreian Payne in the lineup for either game, sophomore guard, Gary Harris shouldered the load for the Spartans. Harris led the team in scoring during each contest, scoring 14 and 23 respectively. Despite struggling to score against Northwestern, Michigan State exited the week still without a blemish on their Big Ten record.

The Spartans head into this week on a 10-game winning streak, including six in the Big Ten. Michigan State has shown that they are one of the best, if not the best, team in the country. Adreian Payne’s health will be an important factor in the Spartans’ success. Michigan State will host Indiana and Michigan this week, in what looks to be two winnable games. – Jeff Jezewski

2. Iowa (15-3, 4-1 Big Ten)

Last Week: (W) Minnesota 94-73

This Week: @ Michigan (13-4, 5-0) @ Northwestern (9-10, 2-4)

The Hawkeyes are coming off a big win against Minnesota, where they dominated in the second half of the contest, turning a two point deficit into a 21-point blowout. Iowa had a balanced attack with five players finishing in double figures, while shooting a stellar 53 percent from the field in the victory.

Iowa has been excellent at home, but they will be tested when they travel to Ann Arbor, this week to take on the undefeated Michigan Wolverines, followed by a matchup with Northwestern. - Josiah Bates

3. Wisconsin (16-2, 3-2 Big Ten)

Last Week: (L) @ Indiana 75-72 (L) Michigan 77-70

This Week: @ Minnesota (14-5, 3-3), @ Purdue (13-5, 3-2)

Wisconsin took a slight drop in the rankings, after losing both of their contests last week. Despite junior guard Traevon Jackson’s 21 points against Indiana, Wisconsin couldn’t pull

off a victory in Assembly Hall, on January 14th. The Badgers followed that performance, four days later, with another loss, this time at the hands of the Michigan Wolverines.

Even though the Badgers have dropped two straight, there is no reason to panic in Madison. Wisconsin is too good, and too well-coached, to not right the ship. Bo Ryan’s squad has two winnable games against Minnesota and Purdue, to turn things back in the right direction. If the Badgers manage to lose at the Gophers or Boilermakers, then it will be time for the Wisconsin faithful to worry. - Jeff Jezewski

4. Michigan (13-4, 5-0 Big Ten)

Last Week: (W) 80-67 Penn State, (W) 77-70 Wisconsin

This Week: vs. Iowa (15-3, 4-1) @ Michigan State (17-1, 6-0)

After a wire-to-wire win over Penn State, the Wolverines put together their most impressive win of the season against Wisconsin and remained undefeated in conference.

Even with an undefeated record in conference, Michigan hasn’t been able to crack the top 25, but there is a chance that will soon change. With Iowa and Michigan State coming up this week, the Wolverines have a chance to get themselves on the map with a win against either one of these teams. The Michigan State game will be their biggest test of the season. – Josiah Bates

5. Ohio State (15-3, 2-3 Big Ten)

Last Week: (L) @ Minnesota 63-53

This Week: @ Nebraska (8-8, 0-4), Illinois (13-6, 2-4)

Ohio State continued its unprecedented fall from grace, losing to Minnesota on January 16th. The loss was the Buckeyes third straight, marking their first time losing three in a row, since February 2009. Aside from junior forward, LaQuinton Ross’ 22 points, Ohio State struggled to find a rhythm offensively. The Buckeyes shot 35 percent from the field against the Golden Gophers.

Ohio State will look to avoid a further free-fall, starting Monday night, against Nebraska. Recently ranked as high as third and considered a national title threat, the Buckeyes must now focus on turning things around in Big Ten play. After taking on Nebraska, Ohio State will return home to face an Illinois team, also in the midst of a mid-season collapse. Expect senior guard, Aaron Craft, and the Buckeyes to figure things out and play their way back into the top ten. – Jeff Jezewski

6. Minnesota (14-5, 3-3 Big Ten)

Last Week: (W) 63-53 Ohio State, (L) 94-73 Iowa

This Week: vs. Wisconsin (16-2, 3-2) @ Nebraska (8-8, 0-4)

Minnesota has been up and down in their conference play after great play out of conference. Last week they got a nice win over Ohio State, where the Gophers out-rebounded the Buckeyes 39-24. Redshirt junior forward Elliot Eliason led the way in that game with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Then Minnesota fell apart in the second half against Iowa where they gave up a 10-point lead. Minnesota hasn’t been able to find a winning formula since the start of conference play.

Minnesota will have a tough matchup against Wisconsin this week, but given the way that they have shown they can play, they are more than capable of competing and beating the Badgers. After a tough matchup, Minnesota should be able to take care of Nebraska, who has yet to win a Big 10 game. – Josiah Bates

7. Purdue (13-5, 3-2 Big Ten)

Last Week: (W) @ Illinois 66-58, (W) Penn State 65-64

This Week: @ Northwestern (9-10, 2-4) Wisconsin (16-2, 3-2)

The Boilermakers are on the rise in this week’s rankings after passing both of their tests last week. Purdue, led by sophomore center A.J. Hammons, knocked off Illinois and Penn State, last week. Hammons scored in double figures in both contests, including 17 against the Illini. The Boilermakers picked up a big road win in Champaign, on January 15th, before returning home to defeat Penn State in the final seconds of the game.

Purdue’s week moved them up to fifth in the Big Ten standings and improved their quest to make the NCAA Tournament. The Boilermakers will have another chance to add a key win to their resume, as they take on Wisconsin, on Saturday afternoon. Before that, however, they must take on the feisty Northwestern Wildcats, coming off their upset win over Indiana. Purdue must continue to beat the teams they should, while sprinkling in a few upsets before Big Ten play is over. – Jeff Jezewski

8. Indiana (12-6, 2-3 Big Ten)

Last Week: (W) 75-72 Wisconsin, (L) 54-47 Northwestern

This Week: @ Michigan State (17-1, 6-0), vs. Illinois (13-6, 2-4)

This past week describes the type of season that Indiana has had all year. After their best win of the season over the Badgers, the Hoosiers lost to Northwestern where they put up their second lowest scoring output of the season and shot just 25% from the field.

This young Hoosier team has shown flashes of brilliance, but their inexperience has been prevalent a number of times this season. Their next game against Michigan State will be a tough one, but Indiana is capable of competing with the Spartans. Their following game against Nebraska should be a definite win. – Josiah Bates

9. Illinois (13-6, 2-4 Big Ten)

Last Week: (L) Purdue 66-58, (L) Michigan State 78-62

This Week: @ Ohio State (15-3, 2-3), @ Indiana (12-6, 2-3)

It has been a rough few weeks for the Illini, as they have dropped four straight conference games. Last week, Illinois’ losses came at the hands of Purdue and Michigan State, dropping the Illini down to ninth in the Big Ten. Illinois was abysmal offensively, shooting less than 40 percent in both matchups last week.

Things won’t get any easier for the Fighting Illini, as they take on Ohio State and Indiana, on the road. Illinois will have to do everything in their power to avoid a six-game losing streak in Big Ten play. Junior guards, Rayvonte Rice and Tracy Abrams, will have to shoulder the load if the Illini hope to end their losing streak. Illinois looked like a tournament team earlier this year, but they haven’t shown that recently. – Jeff Jezewski

10. Northwestern (9-10, 2-4 Big Ten)

Last Week: (L) 54-40 Michigan State, (W) 54-47 Indiana

This Week: vs. Purdue (13-5, 3-2), Iowa (15-3, 4-1)

Northwestern has fought hard all season long and has put together some impressive wins and games.. Even though they lost their matchup to Michigan State, they still held them to just 38% from the field. The next game was another tough defensive performance, as they beat Indiana and held them to their second lowest scoring game of the season.

Northwestern has been in most of their games this season because of their defense. So, they have to have a chance against their next two against Purdue and Iowa. – Josiah Bates

11. Nebraska (8-8, 0-4 Big Ten)

Last Week: BYE

This Week: Ohio State (15-3, 2-3), @ Penn State (9-10, 0-6), Minnesota (14-5, 3-3)

Nebraska receives the benefit of the doubt, moving up despite not playing, due to Penn State’s rough week. The Cornhuskers haven’t played since January 12th, but have a busy slate ahead of them. Nebraska has four games in the next 10 days, as they look to develop an identity in conference play.

Still winless in the Big 10, the Huskers will have a shot to change that, this week. Nebraska takes on Ohio State, who is coming off three straight losses, on their home court. After that, the Cornhuskers, led by sophomore forward Terran Petteway, will take on the winless in Big Ten play, Nittany Lions. The matchup with Penn State will be Nebraska’s best shot at a Big Ten win, to date. The Huskers round out the week, hosting Minnesota on January 26th. – Jeff Jezewski

12. Penn State (9-10, 0-6 Big Ten)

Last Week: (L) 80-67 Michigan, (L) 65-64 Purdue

This Week: vs. Nebraska (8-8, 3-4)

Penn State’s record in the Big Ten doesn’t represent the improvement they’ve made this season. Even though Penn State lost to Michigan this past week, they were in the contest for most of the game and let it slip away in the second half. In their last contest against Purdue, late-game mistakes cost the Nittany Lions their first Big Ten win.

Nebraska is the only other Big Ten team without a conference win. If Penn State can find a way to get a victory against the Cornhuskers, it could be the jumpstart to them turning their season around. - Josiah Bates

Jeff Jezewski is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email jvj5228@psu.edu.

Josiah Bates is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email jnb5278@psu.edu.