Big Ten Power Rankings

Michigan State wins a couple of nail biters over Penn State and Illinois to remain the number one team in conference. Beneath the Spartans, however, was anything but routine. Badger Nation brings in the experts to rank the conference in week two of the Power Rankings.

With Ohio State, ranked seventh last week, earning two conference wins, Illinois nearly earning sweeping the state of Michigan and Minnesota and Northwestern registering upsets, the Big Ten gets more intriguing every week. Badger Nation's weekly feature will rank the 11 teams of the Big Ten Conference, giving you our opinions as to who is rising, who is falling and the key matchup to watch for in our favorite conference.

Each contributor ranks the 11 teams from one to 11 with one being the weakest and 11 being the strongest. Sixty-six points this week is a perfect score, which we have in this edition, and six is the lowest score, which we also have.

This week's contributors include Aaron Brenner from the Janesville Gazette/Captial Times/Badger Nation, Bryan Camp from the Grateful Red, Adam Hoge from the Chicago Tribune, Tyler Mason from WSUM Radio, Ben Voelkel from Sportsbubbler.com, Badgermaniac and Benjamin Worgull from the Nation.

View Last Week's Rankings

Badger Nation's Power 11

1) Michigan State (15-2, 5-0) (77)

2) Purdue (14-4, 3-2) (70)

T-3) Illinois (15-3, 3-2) (58)

T-3) Minnesota (16-2, 4-2) (58)

5) Ohio State (13-3, 3-2) (50)

6) Wisconsin (12-5, 3-2) (43)

7) Penn State (14-5, 3-3) (33)

8) Michigan (13-5, 3-3) (29)

9) Northwestern (9-6, 1-4) (23)

10) Iowa (11-7, 1-4) (14)

11) Indiana (5-12, 0-5) (7)

first number in parentheses is overall record, followed by conference record and then total number of points

Featured Matchup of the Week

Ohio State at Illinois, 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, Big Ten Network

The Buckeyes moved into the third-place logjam with a 65-58 win at Michigan Saturday. The Buckeyes lead the Big Ten in field goal percentage (46.8) and 3-point field goal percentage (42.4) while the Illini are third in field goal percentage defense and second in 3-point field goal percentage. Sophomore Evan Turner leads the Buckeyes in scoring (15.6) and rebounding (6.6), which ties him for fifth and seventh respectively in the Big Ten. Freshman B.J. Mullens leads the Big Ten in field goal percentage (71.4) while sophomore Jon Diebler leads the Big Ten in steals (2.0) and 3-pointers made (3.8).

No.18 Minnesota at Wisconsin, 8:00 p.m. Thursday, Big Ten Network

This is a must-win game for both teams if they hope to keep pace with red-hot Michigan State. Purdue has been lackluster on the road, losing at Penn State and needing a furious comeback to avoid disaster in Evanston. Purdue is 3-0 after a 0-2 start in conference and are starting to look like the team picked to finish first in the Big Ten.

Minnesota is 12-1 at home with its only setback coming against Michigan State. It will be interesting how the Gophers respond after winning at Wisconsin at overtime but losing at Northwestern.

Aaron Brenner's Poll

1) Michigan State

The Spartans must be looking at the standings with ear-to-ear smiles. In a league ridden with parity, Michigan State may already be running away with the regular season title.

2) Purdue

Survived a scare at Northwestern, then regrouped and thumped Iowa at home. The Boilermakers definitely look like they're back on track.

3) Minnesota

The Gophers might have merited holding on to that No. 2 spot after that thrilling comeback at the Kohl Center on Thursday … but lose at Northwestern? Nope, it's still just the Big Two with Minnesota on the outside looking in. For now.

4) Illinois

Here's where I start to have no clue how to rank the Power 11. I'll stick the Illini here for now; they did get revenge on the Wolverines and played the Spartans close in East Lansing.

5) Ohio State

Buckeyes think they should be higher? Well, then, come and get it. Ohio State travels to Champaign Tuesday night in a matchup of national runners-up from 2005 (UI) and 2007 (OSU).

6) Wisconsin

Perhaps dropping the Badgers to No. 6 is a little over-reactionary to that deep collapse in the Minnesota game. Or perhaps it's being realistic that UW reaching the Sweet 16 would be a quietly heroic success rather than just par for the course this season.

7) Penn State

Okay, now I really don't know what to do. The Nittany Lions still have all that scoring talent, lost at home by five to Michigan State and won at Indiana by ten. That tells us … nothing.

8) Northwestern

The Wildcats really threw a wrench in the bottom third of these rankings with that toppling of Minnesota. Gotta give NU its props … it won't get much this season.

9) Michigan

If the Wolverines never sink to the bottom three in this poll again the rest of this season, I won't be surprised in the least. But in the short term, that's what UM gets for bad losses at Illinois and against Ohio State.

10) Iowa

When Wisconsin hits the court at Carver-Hawkeye Arena Wednesday, it'll be Iowa's first home game since Jan. 8 ... and they only played two games in that stretch. Certainly the Hawkeyes will be rested for UW ... that's about all Iowa will get in the way of advantages against a ticket-off bunch of Badgers.

11) Indiana

How's this: instead of actually wasting mind energy and space on the Hoosiers' entry each Monday, I'll just put down the best Indiana-related joke I hear during that week. If you've got something good (and please, keep the "Tom Crean is tan" remarks to a minimum), e-mail it to me at ajbrenner@wisc.edu, and the best one will get this spot each week. Advertisers, you can get in on this action too. That's right, I'm not opposed to selling this space on a weekly basis. I'm all about the Benjamins.

Bryan Camp's Poll

1) Michigan State

2) Purdue

3) Illinois

4) Minnesota

5) Ohio State

6) Wisconsin

7) Michigan

8) Penn State

9) Northwestern

10) Iowa

11) Indiana

Adam Hoge's Poll

1) Michigan State

2) Purdue

3) Ohio State

4) Minnesota

5) Illinois

6) Wisconsin

7) Michigan

8) Penn State

9) Northwestern

10) Iowa

11) Indiana

Our top two stay the same after both Michigan State and Purdue survived scares this week. The Spartans had an impressive week, holding off a late Nittany Lion comeback on the road, while completing their own comeback on a red hot Illinois team at home. Meanwhile, it didn't take long for Purdue to find out that winning in Evanston won't be easy this season. The Boilermakers needed a big second half comeback to beat Northwestern.

Ohio State is our biggest mover after winning at Michigan. The Buckeyes move from No. 7 to No. 3 after Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Illinois all suffer losses.

Tyler Mason's Poll

1) Michigan State

2) Purdue

3) Minnesota

4) Illinois

5) Ohio State

6) Penn State

7) Wisconsin

8) Michigan

9) Northwestern

10) Iowa

11) Indiana

Wisconsin at #7 may seem a bit low, but the loss at home to Minnesota hurt. The win at Michigan was the only legitimate conference win for the Badgers, a team that I'm still not sold on yet. Bo Ryan's teams of the past likely wouldn't have let the lead against the Gophers slip away. This year's squad is different.

Northwestern's win over Minnesota was big for them. For a team looking to show it's improved from last season, beating Minnesota after the Gophers came to Madison and topped the Badgers is big for NU.

I don't see anyone able to challenge Michigan State right now. I essentially have Purdue, Minnesota and Illinois all in same tier just below the Spartans.

Ben Voekel's Poll

1) Michigan State

2) Purdue

3) Illinois

4) Minnesota

5) Ohio State

6) Wisconsin

7) Penn State

8) Michigan

9) Northwestern

10) Iowa

11) Indiana

The top four remain unchanged from last week, which probably is going to be the case for a while. Two wins in the last seven days puts Purdue right back in the thick of things.

The middle is kind of a jumbled situation right now. It's hard to get a real good handle of how good Ohio State, Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan actually are, but one thing's for certain: they are all better than Indiana, Iowa and Northwestern.

Badgermaniac's Poll

1) Michigan State - Beat PSU on the road and Illinois at home. Obviously no reason to move them anywhere.

2) Purdue - Probably deserved to lose to Northwestern, but a win is a win. With Hummel back, they become tough to beat.

3) Illinois - Beat a solid Michigan team pretty easily and a tough loss at MSU moves them up a notch this week.

4) Wisconsin - So, what do you do with Wisconsin and Minnesota? The Gophers have a better record, but against a weaker schedule. Wisconsin has the edge in the power rankings. Minnesota beat Wisconsin this week head to head. I am going to go with Wisconsin, as I still think they are a better team. I wouldn't argue if someone wanted to flip flop them. Wisconsin needs a high quality win soon.

5) Minnesota - They have played with fire all year. You can't keep digging yourself holes ... even if you are a Gopher.

6) Ohio State - Two solid wins this week.

7) Michigan - They are hanging onto the #7 spot, but just barely. They need to win two this week against two teams nipping at their heals.

8) Penn State - Would have jumped Michigan if they could have pulled out the win against MSU. They are still a dangerous team.

9) Northwestern - Should have beat Purdue and beat Minnesota. That bumps them over Iowa.

10) Iowa - Lost a winnable games against Michigan before getting manhandled by Purdue. The road ahead is not easy with games against Wisconsin and Michigan State surrounding a road trip to Happy Valley.

11) Indiana - Just stick them here and leave them here the rest of the year.

Benjamin Worgull's Poll

1) Michigan State

2) Purdue

3) Minnesota

4) Illinois

5) Ohio State

6) Wisconsin

7) Penn State

8) Northwestern

9) Michigan

10) Iowa

11) Indiana

Right now for me, it's a one-team race in the Big Ten with the likes of Purdue, Minnesota and Illinois trying to keep up. Ohio State is closing the gap, making a huge leap in my poll, and will have a chance to crack the top three with a home triumph over Sparty.

Wisconsin needs to figure things out and fast, as the duel conference champs are sinking faster than the Titanic and have a tough road game at Champaign on Saturday.

Northwestern finally got its first win over a ranked opponent in three years, upending Minnesota at home after letting a huge lead slip away over Purdue. Imagine if they had won both those games, as the Wildcats are starting to figure out how to win big games in Evanston.


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