Big Ten Power Rankings: 1/13

Story posted January 13, 2014 in Sports, CommRadio by Jeff Jezewski

1. Michigan State (15-1, 4-0 Big Ten)

Last Week: (W) Ohio State 72-68 (OT), Minnesota 87-75 (OT)

This Week: @ Northwestern (7-9, 0-3) @ Illinois (14-3, 3-1)

Michigan State was pushed to the limit, heading into overtime in both games last week. However, they managed to pull off two key victories knocking off #3 Ohio State and Minnesota. Keith Appling and Adreian Payne led the way against the Buckeyes, scoring 20 and 18 respectively. Appling added seven rebounds and six assists, while Payne pulled down six rebounds on an injured foot. The Spartans held the Buckeyes to 22.2 percent shooting from behind the 3-point arc.

Despite heading into halftime down five and playing poorly throughout much of the game, the Spartans took control in overtime against the Golden Gophers and pulled off an 87-75 victory. The Spartans won despite Payne missing the game due to his foot injury. Michigan State was led, yet again, by Keith Appling. Appling scored 24 points and made 15 free throws to lead the Spartans. The Spartans have been on a roll since their early season loss to North Carolina. Michigan State heads on a quick two game road trip this week, taking on a struggling Northwestern team and an inconsistent Illinois squad.

2. Wisconsin (16-0, 3-0 Big Ten)

Last Week: (W) Illinois 95-70

This Week: @ Indiana (11-5, 1-2), Michigan (11-4, 3-0)

The Badgers very well may be the best team in the Big Ten, but for now they are positioned at number two in the conference. The Badgers impressive win over Illinois doesn’t look as impressive after the Illini fell to Northwestern. Wisconsin did take a 25 point lead into halftime and cruised through the rest of the contest. Wisconsin got all 12 players into the game, with Ben Brust leading the charge with 18 points. The Badgers shot 56 percent from the field against the Illini.

The defense was just as impressive for the Badgers, holding Illinois to 31.6 percent shooting from the field. Wisconsin’s stout defense is allowing just 61.1 points per game. A tough, but manageable week lies ahead for the Badgers, who head to Indiana, before coming back home to face off with Mitch McGary-less Michigan Wolverines.

3. Iowa (14-3, 3-1 Big Ten)

Last Week: (W) Northwestern 93-67, (W) @ Ohio State 84-74

This Week: Minnesota (13-4, 2-2)

Iowa picked up two more wins last week over Northwestern and Ohio State. Iowa dominated Northwestern from the start, picking up a 93-67 victory. Iowa held the Wildcats to 39 percent shooting from the field. Junior forward Aaron White led the way for the Hawkeyes, scoring 18 points, pulling down 10 rebounds and tossing in five assists. White was one of four players to score in double figures for the Hawkeyes.

Iowa also grabbed its biggest win to date, defeating Ohio State 84-74, in Columbus. The Hawkeyes ended the game on a 22-9 run, propelling them to the victory over the #3 Buckeyes. Five players scored in double figures for Iowa, led by 22 from Roy Devyn Marble. White added another impressive performance, scoring 19 points and pulling down six rebounds. The Hawkeyes forced the Buckeyes into turning the ball over 17 times. Iowa could easily be undefeated, losing three tough matchups to top 25 teams, all by five points or less. Iowa has a light week, only taking on Minnesota at home on Sunday.

4. Ohio State (15-2, 2-2 Big Ten)

Last Week: (L) @ Michigan State 72-68 (OT) (L) Iowa 84-74

This Week: @ Minnesota (13-4, 2-2)

The previously undefeated Buckeyes faltered last week, losing to Michigan State and Iowa. Ohio State entered the week at no. 3 in the polls, but will surely experience a drop after losing two in a row. Despite their best comeback attempt, the Buckeyes couldn’t pull off the victory over the Spartans dropping the game in overtime, 72-68.

In a game where many Buckeyes struggled to find a rhythm, Sam Thompson came off the bench and had a strong performance. Thompson had 18 points and eight rebounds, to lead the Buckeye comeback. The Buckeyes allowed the Spartans to shoot 58 percent from behind-the- arc, a recipe for disaster.

To make matters worse for Ohio State, Iowa came into Columbus, and defeated the Buckeyes. Iowa used a late run to pull away from the Buckeyes in what was a close contest throughout. LaQuinton Ross led Ohio State with 22 points and seven rebounds. Star point guard, Aaron Craft was held to just six points and was forced into committing six turnovers. The Buckeyes upcoming game against Minnesota is a huge game for Ohio State to regain their confidence.

5. Minnesota (13-4, 2-2 Big Ten)

Last Week: (W) @ Penn State 68-65 (L) @ Michigan State 87-75 (OT)

This Week: Ohio State (15-2, 2-2) @ Iowa (14-3, 3-1)

The Golden Gophers were led by Deandre Mathieu in their win over Penn State, who tossed in 16 points, while adding four rebounds and three steals. Elliott Eliason added a double- double for the Gophers against the Nittany Lions. Minnesota’s stifling defense held Penn State to 38 percent shooting.

Despite losing to Michigan State, Minnesota proved it can play with the best of the best. The Gophers took the Spartans into overtime before ultimately collapsing. Michigan State outscored the Golden Gophers 16-4 in the extra period. Andre Hollins led the attack for the Gophers, scoring 24 points and adding five rebounds. Senior reserve, Malik Smith added 17 points, off the bench, for the Gophers. Minnesota has an incredibly tough slate this week, taking on Ohio State at home, before traveling to Iowa.

6. Michigan (11-4, 3-0 Big Ten)

Last Week: (W) Nebraska 71-70

This Week: Penn State (9-8, 0-4), @ Wisconsin (16-0, 3-0)

Michigan has been a disappointment early in the season, but has managed to string together five straight victories. Despite Mitch McGary’s absence, Michigan sits at 11-4, after picking up a 71-70 victory over Nebraska. Michigan won the game on freshman guard Derrick Walton Jr.’s layup with 21.8 seconds left. Michigan shot 62 percent from the floor against the Cornhuskers. Each one of Michigan’s starters scored in double figures, led by Glenn Robinson III with 19.

The Wolverines haven’t lost since McGary re-injured his back against Arizona. Michigan takes on a struggling Nittany Lions team on Tuesday, before heading out to Madison, Wisconsin, on Saturday.

7. Illinois (13-4, 2-2 Big Ten)

Last Week: (L) @ Wisconsin 95-70, (L) @ Northwestern 49-43

This Week: Purdue (11-5, 1-2), Michigan State (15-1, 4-0)

Coming off of a four-game winning streak, Illinois struggled mightily last week. Illinois was blown out by Wisconsin, before losing to a younger and less talented Northwestern team. The loss against Wisconsin didn’t come as a surprise, but the way the game went was surprising. The Illini were down 25 by halftime and couldn’t claw back into the contest. Joseph Bertrand was one of the few bright spots for Illinois, having arguably his best game of the season.

Bertrand scored 18 points, on 7 of 10 shooting, while pulling down nine rebounds. The Illini defense allowed Wisconsin to shoot 56 percent from the floor.

The disheartening loss for Illinois came at the hands of the Wildcats. The Illini’s in-state rival, Northwestern, held Illinois to just 28 percent shooting. It was a very sloppy game on both sides, but a game that Illinois should have won. The Illini couldn’t capitalize on many opportunities close to the rim. Tracy Abrams was the only Illini player to score in double figures. The rest of the team couldn’t find a rhythm, leading to the disappointing loss. Illinois will look to rebound this week with a winnable game against Purdue. After Purdue, the Michigan State Spartans come to town.

8. Indiana (11-5, 1-2 Big Ten)

Last Week: (W) @ Penn State 79-76

This Week: Wisconsin (16-0, 3-0), Northwestern (8-9, 1-3)

After two losses in a row, Indiana got off to a terrible start against Penn State. The Hoosiers were down by as many as 15 in the first half, but ultimately picked up the victory. Indiana took their first lead three minutes into the second half. Standout freshman, Noah Vonleh was the man for the Hoosiers dropping in 19 points and grabbing six rebounds. Yogi Ferrell added 15 points and seven assists for the Hoosiers.

Indiana faces a tough challenge this week, taking on undefeated Wisconsin, on January 14th. The Hoosiers will have their hands full with the deep and talented Badgers. The Hoosiers have a much lighter contest to end the week, facing off against Northwestern. The Hoosiers need to win the games they’re supposed to, and pull of some upsets in the Big Ten, to earn an at-large NCAA tournament bid.

9. Purdue (11-5, 1-2 Big Ten)

Last Week: (W) Nebraska 70-64

This Week: @ Illinois (13-4, 2-2), Penn State (9-8, 0-4)

Coming off back-to-back losses, Purdue picked up its 11th win of the year, and first Big Ten win of the year, against Nebraska. Purdue was led by sophomore center A.J. Hammons, who scored 18 points and swatted four shots. Getting the sophomore center back on track is a key to the Boilermakers success this season. Sophomore guard, Ronnie Johnson added 14 points for Purdue. The Boilermakers 28 bench points had a large effect on the outcome of the game.

The Boilermakers will look to stay on track in their upcoming matchup with reeling Illinois. Purdue is looking to hand Illinois their third straight Big Ten loss and jump them in the standings. After Illinois, Penn State heads into West Lafayette, on January 18th.

10. Northwestern (8-9, 1-3 Big Ten)

Last Week: (L) @ Iowa 93-67, (W) Illinois 49-43

This Week: Michigan State (15-1, 4-0), @ Indiana (11-5, 1-2)

The young, inexperienced Wildcats had an up-and-down week. The Wildcats were blown out by Iowa, but picked up their first signature win under head coach Chris Collins, beating Illinois 49-43. Northwestern struggled mightily on offense last week, shooting less than 40 percent in each contest.

Despite shooting just 37.2 percent from the floor against the Illini, the Wildcats still managed to pull off their first Big Ten win. Senior Drew Crawford tallied 13 points and eight rebounds for the Wildcats. Northwestern has a challenging week ahead of them. This week, the Wildcats host Michigan State, before heading on the road to Indiana. Northwestern doesn’t have the talent to compete with most Big Ten teams, but they play hard and have the right framework in place.

11. Penn State (9-8, 0-4 Big Ten)

Last Week: (L) Minnesota 68-65, (L) Indiana 79-76

This Week: @Michigan (11-4, 3-0), @Purdue (11-5, 1-2)

Penn State is 0-4 in Big Ten play, but could just as easily be 2-2. The Nittany Lions led at the half against Minnesota and Indiana. The Lions led for much of the second half against Minnesota, before giving up the lead with under two minutes to go. Tim Frazier led the attack for the Nittany Lions, scoring 20 points and dishing out eight assists. Forward Ross Travis added a double-double for the Nittany Lions, but missed a few free throws down the stretch.

The story was the same against the Hoosiers, as the Lions raced out to an early lead, only to watch it slowly evaporate. The two teams went back and forth in the second half, but the Hoosiers ultimately prevailed, 79-76. D.J. Newbill scored 24 points for the Nittany Lions, after failing to score earlier in the week against Minnesota. Penn State committed 28 fouls against the Hoosiers, hindering their ability to gain stops defensively. The Lions are showing they can compete in the Big Ten, but must learn how to finish games if they wish to make any noise.

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

Last Week: (L) Michigan 71-70, (L) Purdue 70-64

This Week: No games

It has been a rough few weeks for Nebraska, who hasn’t won since December 21st. The Cornhuskers dropped two games this week, extending their skid to five games. The Huskers were competitive in their games against Michigan and Purdue, but failed to capitalize on either opportunity. Defense was an issue for the Huskers, as they allowed Michigan to shoot 62 percent from the field.

Defense continued to be an issue against the Boilermakers, who shot 46 percent from the field. The Huskers have until January 20th to shore up their issues both defensively and offensively. If the Huskers can’t capitalize and win close games, they’re in for a long season in the Big Ten cellar.

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