Big Ten Power Rankings: 2/17
1. Iowa (19-6, 8-4 Big Ten)
Last Week: (W) @ Penn State 82-70
This Week: @ Indiana (14-11, 4-8), Wisconsin (21-5, 8-5)
The Hawkeyes make the jump to the top spot in the rankings, thanks to Michigan and Michigan State’s inability to stay consistent. Iowa had the luxury of playing just once this past week, defeating the Penn State Nittany Lions, 82-70. While not the most impressive victory, the Hawkeyes did what the Wolverines and Spartans failed to do, win. Iowa had four players in double figures in the effort against the Nittany Lions, led by Melsahn Basabe, with 16.
The Hawkeyes now find themselves just one game behind the Big Ten leaders in the loss column. Iowa seems to be peaking at the right time, heading into a huge week. Despite not having a very good season, Indiana will still be a tough win, as Assembly Hall is a tough place to play. After that contest, Iowa has one of their biggest games to date, taking on Wisconsin, at home. The Hawkeyes can put themselves in prime position to make a run at the Big Ten title with a win. – Jeff Jezewski
2. Wisconsin (21-5, 8-5 Big Ten)
Last Week: (W) Minnesota 78-70, (W) @ Michigan 75-62
This Week: @ Iowa (19-6, 8-4)
Wisconsin is catching fire at just the right time in the Big Ten. Its two wins this week extended its winning streak to four games. Wisconsin defeated Minnesota by eight, thanks to a huge game from guard Ben Brust. They were able to force 13 Gopher turnovers behind tremendous defensive pressure. They then went on the road to Ann Arbor, and shut down Michigan en route to a 13-point win. The Badgers were dominant early, taking a big lead early and holding Michigan to 19 first half points. Michigan rallied in the second half, but Frank Kaminsky was too much for them down the stretch. Kaminsky had 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
Wisconsin now has the longest winning streak in the Big Ten heading into its Saturday matchup with Iowa. The two teams met in the Wisconsin’s second conference game, where the Badgers won by four. Both teams have improved tremendously since then, which should make for an excellent matchup and could determine the best team in the Big Ten. It is Wisconsin’s last regular season game against an elite opponent, and a win could provide momentum to run the table into the Big Ten tournament. – Michael Katz
3. Michigan (18-7, 10-3 Big Ten)
Last Week: (W) @ Ohio State 70-60, (L) Wisconsin 75-62
This Week: Michigan State (21-5, 10-3)
After picking up a monumental win over rival, Ohio State, on the road, Michigan failed to build off the momentum, losing to Wisconsin. Freshman point guard, Derrick Walton Jr. led the way against the Buckeyes, scoring 13 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. However, he was held scoreless against the Badgers in a tough loss. The Wolverines couldn’t get much going against Wisconsin, even with Caris LeVert scoring 25 points.
Continuing an incredibly tough stretch, the Wolverines will take on their fourth ranked opponent in a row, on Sunday, against Michigan State. Both teams are going through rough stretches after looking like the class of the Big Ten earlier this season. The battle for the best team in Michigan will go a long way in determining the Big Ten title. A loss would be detrimental to the Wolverines, making it their fourth loss in six games, thus hurting their Big Ten title hopes. – Jeff Jezewski
4. Michigan State (21-5, 10-3 Big Ten)
Last Week: (W) Northwestern 85-70, (L) Nebraska 60-51
This Week: @ Purdue (15-10, 5-7), @ Michigan (18-7, 10-3)
Michigan State’s struggles continued on Sunday. The injury plagued Spartans sustained their worst loss of the season at home to Nebraska. They scored a season-low 51 points in the loss and shot 34 percent from the field, including 5-24 from the three-point line. Michigan State has not won consecutive games since winning 11 straight earlier in the season. Keith Appling was non- existent in the loss, scoring only two points, while playing 19 minutes, as he recovers from an injury. Gary Harris led the Spartans in scoring with 18 points with a terrible field goal percentage, shooting 5-15.
Michigan State has been great on the road this season, and both games this week will be away from home. If the pattern continues, they will beat Purdue early in the week. This will be no cakewalk of a game, but Michigan State is the much better team and should take it. They take on the rival Michigan Wolverines on Sunday. Both teams have been tremendously inconsistent lately. However, both teams are in the elite class of the Big Ten and the matchup is an important one. – Michael Katz
5. Ohio State (20-6, 7-6 Big Ten)
Last Week: (L) Michigan 70-60, (W) @ Illinois 48-39
This Week: Northwestern (12-14, 5-8), Minnesota (17-9, 6-7)
Ohio State has been an unpredictable team all season, playing inconsistently ever since their 15-0 start. They dropped a tough contest, at home, to Michigan, but rebounded with a win over Illinois, on the road. The Buckeyes couldn’t take down their rival, Michigan, despite 24 points from LaQuinton Ross. Ohio State responded admirably, playing what might have been, their best defensive game of the season. The Buckeyes stifling defense held the Fighting Illini to just 39 points, on 28.3 percent shooting. However, if the Buckeyes want to be considered a threat, they must improve offensively, as they scored just 48 points against Illinois.
Moving forward, the Buckeyes have a winnable week ahead, taking on Northwestern and Minnesota, both at home. Ohio State will look to avoid an upset from a pesky Northwestern squad. After the matchup with the Wildcats, the Buckeyes will look to avenge their loss to the Golden Gophers, dropping the contest 63-53, on January 16th. The Buckeyes have been playing better as of late, but a loss this week would deter them greatly. – Jeff Jezewski
6. Nebraska (14-10, 6-6 Big Ten)
Last Week: (W) Illinois 67-58, (W) @ Michigan State 60-51
This Week: Penn State (13-13, 4-9), Purdue (15-10, 5-7)
Nebraska was a big winner last week, and brings a three game winning streak into a week with two home games against opponents in the cellar of the Big Ten. A win against Illinois was expected, but the win at Michigan State was a huge resume booster. It was the team’s biggest win of the season. Nebraska has been playing good basketball and the rest of its schedule is favorable. The Huskers now sit at sixth in the Big Ten standings and should be on the way to the NCAA Tournament, if this play continues.
This week has Nebraska taking on Penn State and Purdue, both of whom they lost to in the first meetings. Nebraska has been highly improved since both matchups, while the other two programs have lost steam. An NCAA Tournament appearance would be a huge program booster for Nebraska. The program has not appeared in the tournament since 1998, and a winning record to end the season would put them in a prime spot. – Michael Katz
7. Minnesota (17-9, 6-7 Big Ten)
Last Week: (L) @ Wisconsin 78-70, (W) @ Northwestern 54-48
This Week: Illinois (14-12, 3-10), @ Ohio State (20-6, 7-6)
The Golden Gophers had a solid week, playing Wisconsin very tough before defeating Northwestern, on the road, on Sunday. Minnesota played very well offensively against the Badgers, but couldn’t stop Wisconsin’s offense, giving up 78 points and allowing them to shoot higher than 48 percent. The Gophers defense rebounded with a strong effort against the Wildcats,
giving up just 48 points and holding them to 30 percent shooting. Junior guard, DeAndre Mathieu, led the way with 18 for Minnesota.
Still on the fringe of the NCAA tournament, the Golden Gophers have some work to do and it starts this week. Minnesota starts off with a very winnable game against last place Big Ten team, Illinois. A win against the Illini would get the Gophers to .500 in Big Ten play before they head to Columbus to face Ohio State, on Saturday. A win against the Buckeyes would do wonders for Minnesota’s tournament resume. – Jeff Jezewski
8. Purdue (15-10, 5-7 Big Ten)
Last Week: (W) Indiana 82-64
This Week: Michigan State (21-5, 10-3), @ Nebraska (14-10, 6-6)
Anytime Purdue is able to get a win, it is a plus. It is even bigger to win by 18 against your in- state rival. Purdue blew out Indiana on Saturday, and now has bragging rights until the teams meet next year. Sterling Carter led the way with 19 points, draining five three-pointers along the way.
At 5-7 in the Big Ten, Purdue probably will not make the NCAA tournament. It also does not help that four of its final six games will come against ranked opponents. Despite all of the upsets in the Big Ten this year, Purdue has been an odd team that does not have a signature win. They don’t get any favors this week. Michigan State visits, and a road matchup with suddenly hot Nebraska follows. – Michael Katz
9. Northwestern (12-14, 5-8 Big Ten)
Last Week: (L) @ Michigan State 85-70, (L) Minnesota (54-48)
This Week: @ Ohio State (20-6, 7-6), Indiana (14-11, 4-8)
After winning four of five Big Ten games earlier this season, the Wildcats have hit a rough stretch. Northwestern has dropped their last three contests, including both contests this past week. Northwestern didn’t play poorly against Michigan State, but the talent gap showed throughout the contest, as Michigan State scored at will. However, the Wildcats responded with one of their worst offensive performances of the year against Minnesota. The Wildcats managed just 48 points, on 30 percent shooting, on their home court.
Northwestern has a big matchup with Ohio State this week, before their schedule gets easier. This will be the Wildcats only contest against the Buckeyes this year, but it comes at a time when Ohio State is showing their inconsistency. If Northwestern can pull off the upset, Chris Collins’ squad would be in good shape for the rest of the season. After Ohio State, the Wildcats schedule
gets considerably easier, as they don’t face any teams in the top five of the Big Ten race. The first of those matchups comes Saturday, against a struggling Indiana team. Northwestern’s only chance of making the NCAA tourney is winning the Big Ten tournament, but the Wildcats have a chance to finish with a respectable season. – Jeff Jezewski
10. Penn State (13-13, 4-9 Big Ten)
Last Week: (W) @ Indiana 66-65, (L) Iowa 82-70
This Week: @ Nebraska (14-10, 6-6)
Penn State fulfilled expectations last week. The Nittany Lions defeated Indiana in a close game and lost to Iowa on Saturday. They led Iowa at halftime, but were dominated in the second half. Iowa was able to pull away with a 14-4 run to break a 44-44 tie.
Penn State has the chance to play spoiler this week on the road against Nebraska, who has won three straight and is vying for and NCAA Tournament spot. A Penn State win would significantly hurt Nebraska’s chances. – Michael Katz
11. Indiana (14-11, 4-8 Big Ten)
Last Week: (L) Penn State 66-65, (L) @ Purdue 82-64
This Week: Iowa (19-6, 8-4), @ Northwestern (12-14, 5-8)
The Hoosiers are going through a rough period, losing their last three contests after the upset win over Michigan. Indiana dropped a heartbreaking contest against Penn State, on their home court, just their third home loss of the season. Sloppy play down the stretch spelled doom for the Hoosiers against the Nittany Lions. Indiana turned the ball over twice in the last 15 seconds, both leading to points for Penn State. They followed up the loss to the Nittany Lions with another lackluster performance, losing to the Purdue Boilermakers 82-64.
Coach Tom Crean’s team has a big week ahead, if they hope to salvage any pride from this tough season. The Hoosiers welcome a surging Iowa team into Assembly Hall, on Tuesday. After taking on the Hawkeyes, Indiana heads on the road to face another struggling opponent, Northwestern. Still four games under .500 in Big Ten play, the Hoosiers must win their last six contests if they hope to finish with a winning record in the conference. – Jeff Jezewski
12. Illinois (14-12, 3-10 Big Ten)
Last Week: (L) @ Nebraska 67-58, (L) Ohio State 48-39
This Week: @ Minnesota (17-9, 6-7)
By this point it should be clear that Illinois is the worst team in the Big Ten. It is shocking that they were ranked at one point in the season. The struggles continued last week, with losses to Nebraska and Ohio State. The Illini only scored 39 points against the Buckeyes. That is now 10 losses in the last 11 games.
A trip to Minnesota awaits Illinois. They still have a shot at moving out of last place in the Big Ten with a few wins, and should make that a goal. – Michael Katz
Jeff Jezewski is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael Katz is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
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.