Big Ten Power Rankings: 2/10
1. Michigan State (20-4, 9-2 Big Ten)
Last Week: (W) Penn State 82-67, (L) @ Wisconsin 60-58
This Week: Northwestern (12-12, 5-6), Nebraska (12-10, 4-6)
Michigan State moves up to the top spot in a wild week in the Big Ten. They crushed Penn State at home on Thursday, before losing on the road to Wisconsin, on a Traevon Jackson jumper with two seconds remaining. Michigan State has now traded wins and losses in its last 5 games. Adreian Payne returned to the lineup against Penn State, scoring 12 points. He followed with a 24 point effort in the loss in Madison.
The Spartans played the week without point guard Keith Appling. He was replaced in the starting lineup by Travis Trice. Trice had five points against Penn State and 13 against Wisconsin. They play two teams in the bottom half of the conference this week, but no games are easy in the Big Ten. They stay in East Lansing all week to take on Northwestern and Nebraska. Gaining Payne back was huge, but continuing to play without the team’s facilitator in Appling will be tough and could pose troubles for the Spartans. Trice will need to continue to improve and Gary Harris will need to get back on track after scoring less than 10 points for only the second time this season against Iowa. – Michael Katz
2. Iowa (18-6, 7-4 Big Ten)
Last Week: (L) Ohio State 76-69, (W) Michigan 85-67
This Week: @ Penn State (12-12, 3-8)
The Hawkeyes picked up their most impressive win to date against the Wolverines. Roy Devyn Marble led the charge on Saturday, scoring an efficient 26 points. Despite a tough loss to Ohio State earlier in the week, Iowa’s impressive performance against Michigan earned them a move up the rankings. Scorching three-point shooting led the Hawkeyes to the big win, as they shot 10-17 from behind the arc. Even with the loss to the Buckeyes, Iowa played very well offensively, but a hot shooting Ohio State team got the best of them.
The Hawkeyes have a light week coming up, having only one game against the underwhelming Nittany Lions. If the win over the Wolverines is indicative of things to come, Iowa has a legitimate shot at making a Big Ten title run. Figuring things out at the right time could possibly lead the Hawkeyes to a tournament run. – Jeff Jezewski
3. Michigan (17-6, 9-2 Big Ten)
Last Week: (W) Nebraska 79-50, (L) @ Iowa 85-67
This Week: @ Ohio State (19-5, 6-5), Wisconsin (17-5, 6-5)
Michigan came crashing back down to earth on Saturday. The Wolverines were outworked in a decisive defeat at the hands of the Iowa Hawkeyes. Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III were completely shut down. Stauskas scored 10 points on only six shots. Robinson scored on a dunk in the first minute of the game and did not score again, finishing 1-7 from the floor. The devastating loss overshadowed a 29-point win early in the week against Nebraska. Robinson scored 23 in the blowout win.
The road doesn’t get any easier this week for Michigan. They head to Columbus, to take on archrival Ohio State, and return to Ann Arbor, on Sunday to play Wisconsin. Ohio State has cleaned up its play lately, defeating two straight ranked teams on the road and blowing out Purdue. Wisconsin defeated Michigan State and is also a big threat to Michigan. We will find out this week if the team that took the court in Iowa on Saturday is the real Michigan.- Michael Katz
4. Ohio State (19-5, 6-5 Big Ten)
Last Week: (W) @ Iowa 76-69, (W) Purdue 67-49
This Week: Michigan (17-6, 9-2), @ Illinois (14-10, 3-8)
Ohio State seems to be turning things around at exactly the right time. The Buckeyes are on a three-game winning streak, after picking up wins against Iowa and Purdue. Ohio State’s offense has come up huge lately, shooting over 46 percent in each contest. Junior forward, LaQuinton Ross, continued his impressive season with two solid performances, scoring 13 points and 17 points, respectively. The Buckeyes catalyst, Aaron Craft, turned in one of his best efforts of the season against the Hawkeyes, scoring 17 points while dishing out six assists and picking up six steals.
Ohio State has a shot at rising up these rankings with continued improved play. After a rough patch, the Buckeyes seem to be peaking at the right time, heading into an important matchup against rival Michigan. If Thad Matta’s squad can pull off another undefeated week, they will continue to rise up the Big Ten rankings. Ohio State needs to prove they can continue their strong offensive play and make a late season push. – Jeff Jezewski
5. Wisconsin (17-5, 6-5 Big Ten)
Last Week: (W) @ Illinois 75-63, (W) Michigan State 60-58
This Week: Minnesota (16-8, 5-6), @ Michigan (17-6, 9-2)
The Wisconsin Badgers were flawless last week. They cruised to a 12-point win at Illinois, and won a thriller on Sunday against Michigan State. Traevon Jackson closed out a previously shaky
game with a game winning jumper with two seconds left. The shot came after Adreian Payne nailed a three to tie it with 10 seconds left. The Badgers played great defense, holding Gary Harris to under 10 points for only the second time this season.
The week was huge and much needed after losing two straight games heading in. Wisconsin is still very much alive in the race for the Big Ten crown, and can gain ground by beating teams high in the standings like Michigan State. They can move up with a win at Michigan, but should not look past Minnesota in their first game of the week. The Gophers have quietly lingered in the middle of the Big Ten standings, and got out of a rough patch with a win over Indiana. Wisconsin has been inconsistent due to the challenge of playing in the Big Ten, and two more wins this week would be huge for the Badgers. – Michael Katz
6. Minnesota (16-8, 5-6 Big Ten)
Last Week: (L) @ Purdue 77-74 (3OT) (W) Indiana 66-60
This Week: @ Wisconsin (19-5, 6-5), @ Northwestern (12-12, 5-6)
Due to much parity in the middle of the Big Ten standings, Minnesota moves up despite a triple- overtime loss to Purdue. In the loss, the Gophers had four players score in double figures, but star guard, Andre Hollins, struggled. In Minnesota’s pair of games last week, Hollins averaged just nine points per game, nearly six points below his season average. However, DeAndre Mathieu picked up the scoring slack, scoring 15 and 16 points respectively. Minnesota’s win over the Hoosiers was a big one, as they picked up a win over another middle of the pack Big Ten squad.
Moving forward, the Golden Gophers face a tough week ahead. First-year coach Richard Pitino’s squad heads out to Madison, Wisconsin, before traveling to Evanston, Illinois, to face a scrappy Northwestern team. The Gophers must win at least one of the games, if they hope to finish
above .500 in Big Ten conference play. Minnesota’s tournament hopes are still very much alive, but they must continue to add to their resume. – Jeff Jezewski
7. Northwestern (12-12, 5-6 Big Ten)
Last Week: (L) Nebraska 53-49
This Week: @ Michigan State (20-4, 9-2), Minnesota (16-8, 5-6)
Northwestern’s loss to Nebraska last week was a huge one that they needed to win. The Wildcats had won two straight, including one at Wisconsin, and needed a win to move above .500 in Big Ten play. They squandered the opportunity, showing no offense in scoring only 49 points against the Cornhuskers. Northwestern lead in a low scoring affair until 14 minutes left in the second half. After a Walter Pitchford three pointer put Nebraska up by one, Northwestern trailed for the
remainder of the game. They held Nebraska to 16 first half points and still were not able to pull it out. Bad shooting plagued Northwestern, shooting just over a 38% clip.
This week will be big for Northwestern to stay around the top half of the Big Ten standings. Michigan State will be hungry for a win after a tough loss to Wisconsin and should be in top form. The Minnesota game is an important one. The two teams are tied in the Big Ten standings and Northwestern needs the win to separate themselves from the Gophers. The first matchup is telling of how even the teams are. Northwestern won by one point at Minnesota, a game before the Nebraska loss. – Michael Katz
8. Nebraska (12-10, 4-6 Big Ten)
Last Week: (L) @ Michigan 79-50, (W) @ Northwestern 53-49
This Week: Illinois (14-10, 3-8), @ Michigan State (20-4, 9-2)
Nebraska’s season is still sort of an enigma to this point, as they continue to be extremely inconsistent. The Cornhuskers were rocked on the road by Michigan, shooting just 35.2 percent from the field. However, they rebounded nicely with a road win over Northwestern, on Saturday. Nebraska’s star player, Terran Petteway, was held in check against Michigan, scoring just five points, but he rebounded with a strong 17-point contest in the win over Northwestern.
Nebraska has a big opportunity this week, taking on an inconsistent, but talented Illinois team before heading to East Lansing, to take on the Michigan State Spartans. It is a necessity for the Huskers to continue to improve and pick up a victory this week. A winless week would drop Nebraska to .500 on the season. A win this week would continue the Huskers encouraging step in the right direction. - Jeff Jezewski
9. Indiana (14-9, 4-6 Big Ten)
Last Week: (L) @ Minnesota 66-60
This Week: Penn State (12-12, 3-8), @ Purdue (14-10, 4-7)
Indiana continues its inconsistent play and is a puzzling team to figure out. They beat teams like Wisconsin and Michigan and then fall to teams like Nebraska and Minnesota. Indiana has not won back-to-back games since Big Ten play began. They continue to struggle on the road, where they have lost five of their nine games. Freshman Noah Vonleh continues to play well in the post, but does not get enough shots to change a game.
The Hoosiers lost at Minnesota last week, dropping them back further in the Big Ten rankings. Now sitting at 4-6 in conference, they need to string a few wins together to have any hopes of making a run at the big dance. They catch a break, as they play the two worst teams in the Big
Ten, Penn State and Purdue. They have lost three straight away games and take on the Boilermakers on the road. Two wins this week are crucial if the Hoosiers expect to have any shot at making the NCAA Tournament. – Michael Katz
10. Illinois (14-10, 3-8 Big Ten)
Last Week: (L) Wisconsin 75-63, (W) @ Penn State 60-55
This Week: @ Nebraska (12-10, 4-6), Ohio State (19-5, 6-5)
The Fighting Illini finally broke their losing skid, on the road, Sunday afternoon. Illinois took down the Penn State Nittany Lions behind 19 points from Kendrick Nunn. Nunn, the freshman guard, had his best game of the season, not scoring more than eight points in any contest before the win. Earlier in the week, the Illini played a very good Wisconsin team tough, but were ultimately unable to pull off the victory.
After breaking the losing streak, the Illini will look to continue their better play, on the road, against Nebraska. However, the Huskers are very tough at home, losing just once. Illinois will look to win that contest and play Ohio State tough. The Illini’s tournament hopes are mostly nonexistent, but that doesn’t mean they have nothing to play for. Earlier in the season, a top 25 team, Illinois now just looks to be respectable in the Big Ten. – Jeff Jezewski
11. Purdue (14-10, 4-7 Big Ten)
Last Week: (W) Minnesota 77-74 3 OT, (L) @ Ohio State (67-49)
This Week: Indiana (14-9, 4-6)
Purdue picked up a desperately needed win to stop the bleeding of a four game losing streak, defeating Minnesota in a wild triple overtime game. AJ Hammons was huge with 20 points and 14 rebounds. After a Minnesota shot clock violation with a minute left in the third overtime, a Hammons lay-up gave Purdue a 75-74 lead, which they never relinquished. The Boilermakers returned to their losing ways on Saturday in an 18-point blowout loss to Ohio State.
Purdue will heads into the final stretch of the season battling with Penn State and Illinois for last place in the Big Ten. A win against Indiana this week would put them ahead of the Hoosiers in the standings. With no tournament bid going to Purdue this year in all likelihood, they should use the rivalry game as their inspiration to continue playing hard. – Michael Katz
12. Penn State (12-12, 3-8 Big Ten)
Last Week: (L) @ Michigan State 82-67, (L) Illinois 60-55
This Week: @ Indiana (14-9, 4-6), Iowa (18-6, 7-4)
After things started looking up with a three-game winning streak, Penn State fell back to the bottom of the Big Ten table, dropping both contests last week. Just as they started to play well, the Lions regressed, losing to Illinois on Sunday. Penn State played very poorly offensively against the Illini, shooting just 38 percent from the field and under 28 percent from behind-the- arc.
Moving forward, Penn State has another tough week ahead. The Nittany Lions will head to Assembly Hall, to take on Indiana. After that contest, they will return home to face an Iowa team coming off the best win of their season. Another rough week could severely hamper the team’s chances at finishing above .500. – Jeff Jezewski
Jeff Jezewski is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
Michael Katz is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Junior / Broadcast Journalism
Michael is a Junior Broadcast Journalism major originally from the Washington DC area. He has done play by play and beat writing for various Penn State sports. He is a supporter of all Washington sports teams and hopes to host a sports radio show focusing on Washington teams in the future.
Senior / Broadcast Journalism
Jeff Jezewski is a senior from Nanticoke, PA, aspiring to work professionally in the sports industry. Jeff is currently a production director for ComRadio while also serving as a play-by-play broadcaster and a producer.
In the summer of 2014, Jeff interned with Westwood One in New York City. Jeff served as a live event production intern in his time with the company. In the fall of 2014, he served as an intern for ESPN 1450 in State College.
In the summer of 2015, Jeff acted as a media relations intern for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.