HOOPS: Big Ten Power Rankings 1/9

Dylan Burn of Hawkeye Insider reveals his first Big Ten power rankings of the conference season.

14. Rutgers (prev. 14)

Rutgers started hot in the non-conference, but have since met superior competition in the Big Ten. They're currently 0-4 with losses to Wisconsin, Michigan State, Iowa, and Penn State. They haven't gotten any help from the schedule because three of the four losses have come on the road and to a couple teams in Michigan State and Wisconsin that have really tough home courts. Rutgers' guards might win them one or two games this season, but I think Rutgers is still a few years away. Either way, they are improved from last season, you can see that just from watching them play. 

13. Penn State (prev. 12)

Penn State got a solid win over the weekend at the Palestra over Tom Izzo's Michigan State Spartans. They currently sit at 2-2 in the Big Ten with wins over the aforementioned Spartans and Rutgers. Their losses have come to Northwestern at home and on the road in Ann Arbor to the Wolverines. They're a team that I also think is a year or two a way. They had a nice home court advantage on Saturday, which is something they almost never have at the Bryce Jordan Center. Usually you can hear a pin drop in that place during a Nittany Lion game. True freshman Lamar Stevens has been averaging 14 points in Big Ten play and has been a nice surprise for Pat Chambers. 

12. Ohio State (prev. 5)

This is a Buckeye team that has really struggled so far in the Big Ten. They've lost games at Illinois, against Purdue, and at Minnesota. I don't think by the end of the season that they'll be this low, but with no conference wins in three games it's hard to put them any higher. This league is so balanced this year that the Buckeyes could turn right around and beat Wisconsin or Michigan State in the coming week. Although, it certainly doesn't get any easier for Thad Matta's bunch. 

11. Illinois (prev. 11)

The Fighting Illini are one of the few teams that didn't move since December 27th. They're 1-2 with a win over Ohio State at home and two road losses to Maryland and Indiana. It's been tough getting a gauge on the Illini early on, but the early drubbing in Bloomington wasn't earning them any points in this weeks power rankings. They have an electric scorer in Malcolm Hill, but he's searching for help. Tracy Abrams is second on the team in scoring averaging 11 points, but they are in need of someone to drastically pick up production to give Hill a sidekick. 

10. Michigan (prev. 4)

The Wolverines were a team that I had towards the top part of the Big Ten before the Big Ten season kicked off. But losses at Iowa and to Maryland didn't help matters for Michigan. They have a home win against Penn State, but that isn't much to write home about at this point in the season. They are another team that can turn it around with a few winnable games this week against Illinois and Nebraska. I thought they might exit Iowa City with a victory, but the young Hawkeyes ripped that right out from underneath them in the overtime thriller. 

9. Iowa (prev. 10)

The Hawkeyes didn't move much in this edition either. They are about right on schedule with where I thought they'd be with losses at Purdue and at Nebraska. Although, they had plenty of chances to win the game in Lincoln late. The wins over Michigan and Rutgers are fine, but they barely snuck past the Scarlet Knights and had to use a late run to comeback and leave the court victorious. They have a good opportunity at home against Purdue on Thursday and then at Northwestern a week from now, so we'll see what the young Hawkeyes do with it. 

8. Northwestern (prev. 7)

Northwestern has two very respectable losses over the first four games here. They also have two solid road wins to their credit. Losses at Michigan State and at home against Minnesota aren't going to jump off the page as bad losses to anyone familiar with the Big Ten conference. And two road wins over Penn State and Nebraska are respectable as well. I mean, anytime you can win road games in the Big Ten it means something. Scottie Lindsey and Vic Law have been really productive over the first four and Bryant McIntosh has been one of the best point guards in the Big Ten. Chris Collins has a good bunch and if this continues the Wildcats will be dancing come March. 

7. Maryland (prev. 9)

The Terrapins come in to today at 2-1 with wins over Illinois and on the road at Michigan. Their one loss is to Nebraska at home, but we've learned that Nebraska is going to be a tough out in the Big Ten this season with how their guards are performing. The Terps have one of the best players in the conference in Melo Trimble, so that will always keep them in the mix. Justin Jackson and Damonte Dodd were both solid two nights ago in their win over Michigan, so if they're getting production from their forwards they're going to be a tough out. They have games against Indiana and Illinois coming up this week. 

6. Indiana (prev. 3) 

The Hoosiers have been one of the tougher teams to figure out early on in the Big Ten season. They have a win over Illinois, but two losses against Nebraska and Wisconsin. The Hoosiers are still extremely talented and are going to be a tough out in any game they are playing this Big Ten season. Right now, Indiana is down here because of their early struggles. A home loss to Nebraska is very uncharacteristic of them. They are still figuring out how to play without Yogi Ferrell, but once they do they are going to be a major threat. 

5. Nebraska (prev. 13)

Since their rough finish to non-conference play, the Huskers have really impressed in four Big Ten games. They have beaten Indiana on the road, Maryland on the road, and Iowa in Lincoln. They have the one loss to Northwestern, which came at home, but that isn't enough to keep them out of the top five. If Glynn Watson and Tai Webster are playing well, they are one of the tougher teams in the conference. They'd likely be a top 3 team in the Big Ten if they hadn't lost to Northwestern today. 

4. Michigan St (prev. 8)

The Spartans just had a brutal non-conference slate. And for a young group minus two key front court players, that is going to be difficult to overcome. However, wins at Minnesota, at home against Northwestern and Rutgers have the Spartans back on track. The one minor bump they experienced was this weekend against Penn State at the Palestra. Nick Ward is playing like the freshman of the year in the Big Ten conference after scoring in double figures in every single Big Ten game he's played in. His coming out party was against Minnesota when he had 22 points in a big time comeback win. They'll have another one against Minnesota on Wednesday this week, which will be another good game. 

3. Minnesota (prev. 6)

They've been the surprise of the Big Ten so far this season. They probably should be 4-0 instead of 3-1, but blew a late lead to Michigan State at home inside Williams Arena. Typically, I'd have the Spartans ahead of the Gophers, but I think Richard Pitino's team has been better. I couldn't overlook the loss to Penn State. The Gophers have two road wins and probably the best win of any team in the Big Ten. A road win over Purdue. Purdue's win over Wisconsin is right up there as well. Minnesota will be at the top for the rest of the conference slate, they have that much talent. 

2. Wisconsin (prev. 1)

The Badgers are just all eye test for me. They have one of the more talented groups in the conference and are 2-1 to start the conference season. They have an impressive win at Indiana, but did lose at Purdue this weekend. Their other win was a blowout W over Rutgers. They have two very winnable home games coming against Ohio State and Michigan this week, so Wisconsin could reclaim the top spot by the time the next power rankings come out. 

1. Purdue (prev. 2)

The Boilermakers claim the top spot this week after knocking off Wisconsin on Sunday afternoon. They also have wins over Iowa and Ohio State, but did lose a home game to a very good Minnesota team. The Boilermakers probably have the one player that leads right now for conference player of the year in Caleb Swanigan and have a great supporting cast around him. Vincent Edwards had been a key piece over the first three games scoring in double figures in all three before pouring in 5 in the win today over Wisconsin. With Swanigan leading the way, Purdue is going to be tough. They have one of the tougher home courts at Mackey Arena as well. They have a rematch with Iowa coming up on Thursday in Iowa City. 

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