Big Ten Power Rankings

For the first time this season, the Power 11 has a new number one team, as the top five has a total makeover from a week ago. In the ultra-competitive Big Ten conference, that should come as no surprise, as the experts will show you in this week's Power 11.

Another week, another big road upset.

After losing by 37 points at East Lansing a year ago, Penn State basketball earns its signature win of the season by knocking off No.9 Michigan State for its fourth straight conference victory, only the second time PSU has done that.

And with Wisconsin basketball, the conference's best team over the past three seasons, dropping six straight games, things are only going to get crazier coming down the stretch.

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. Eighty-eight points this week is a perfect score, which we have in this edition, and eight 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, Brad Fedie from Badger Nation, 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) Purdue (17-4, 6-2) (88)

2) Michigan State (17-4, 7-2) (76)

3) Minnesota (18-3, 6-3) (71)

4) Penn State (17-5, 6-3) (62)

5) Illinois (18-4, 6-3) (62)

6) Ohio State (15-5, 5-4) (45)

7) Northwestern (12-7, 4-5) (40)

8) Michigan (14-8, 4-6) (32)

9) Wisconsin (12-9, 3-6) (24)

10) Iowa (12-10, 2-7) (19)

11) Indiana (5-15, 0-8) (8)

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

Featured Matchup of the Week

No.19 Minnesota at No.13 Michigan State, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Big Ten Network

The Gopher roller coaster continues. Minnesota rebounded from two mediocre games to pummel Illinois in the Barn, breaking a 20-game losing streak to the Illini by holding the visitors to only 36 points, their fewest since 1985.

Michigan State on the other hand has now dropped two straight home games in the wake of a 28-game home win streak. The Spartans are a perfect 5-0 at home in conference play, but just 2-2 in the Breslin Center. Even when Sparty wins at home, it's a nail biter, beating Ohio State by nine and Illinois by only six. MSU might be in trouble if second-leading scorer Raymar Morgan (walking pneumonia) can't play.

No.12 Purdue at No.23 Illinois, 12:00 p.m. Sunday, CBS

Illinois has a tough week ahead of them, traveling to Wisconsin and then its big home matchup against Purdue. If the Illini can get through this week 2-0, they will certainly state their claim as being one of the top teams in the conference.

Purdue has won six straight games in a row, coming off an emotional win on Saturday over Michigan, where Chris Kramer took an elbow to the nose, causing it to break and bleed uncontrollably. Purdue used it as a springboard though, going on a 40-20 run the rest of the game.

The Boilermakers don't need to be reminded that Illinois won in West Lafayette in overtime to begin the conference season either.

Aaron Brenner's Poll

1) Purdue - I guess that "must-win" game against Wisconsin on Jan. 11 wasn't so important after all. Boilers have won six straight (two over the Badgers) since the "embarrassing" loss at Penn State. Both those quotes, by the way, attributed to guard Chris Kramer, who has been injury-plagued and invisible for Purdue so far. Imagine if he heats up…

2) Michigan State - What's up, Izzone? You gonna let Northwestern and Penn State – the two most hideous programs in recent Big Ten history – come into your barn and walk out as winners? That's not going to impress the tourney crew in March when handing out seeds.

3) Minnesota - I'm hesitant to put the Gophers back up to three, because I truly believe Illinois is a better team. But any time you hold a team to 36 points in a game – that team being said Illini – you get a lift in the Power 11, even with the great escape at Indiana.

4) Illinois - I don't think Illinois is going to beat Wisconsin on Thursday. I think they're going to grind them up and spit them out and quite possibly have the Kohl Center emptying at the second-half 8-minute media timeout. The question is, at what point will UI equal that 36-point turnout in Minneapolis? I say, 4:15 left. In the first half.

5) Penn State - Then the Nittany Lions will make it eight in a row for Wisconsin this weekend. Luckily, after that Wisconsin hosts Iowa, so cue up the "Eight is Enough" headlines on Feb. 11. But anyway, let's talk about teams that still matter with legitimate NCAA tourney hopes…

Seriously, Ed DeChellis, free throw practice. Your guys almost handed away the program's first ever win in East Lansing, at one point missing seven of eight foul shots. But I can't disrespect the four-game winning streak. Things are looking up in State College.

6) Ohio State - A couple patsy victories – home for Michigan and at Indiana – have given the Buckeyes all the confidence they could hope for in preparation for a giant week: home dates with Purdue and Minnesota. Find a way to win both of those, and OSU's back into the Big Dance.

7) Michigan - Five losses out of six? Michigan has caught the same bug as Wisconsin. Perhaps the Wolverines can regain their giant-killer status at Connecticut on Saturday…not that it will help its eighth-place conference standing.

8) Northwestern - Could NU actually finish over .500 in Big Ten play for the first time since 1968? Pretty impressive resume for Bill Carmody's crew with wins over Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan State. And even when Northwestern loses, it's close; it has lost once this year by double digits. Yep, that 29-point ink stain in Madison on Jan. 7. Pretty much the highlight of Wisconsin's season thus far.

9) Iowa - The Hawkeyes have lost seven of their last eight, and the win before that was against Indiana by five points. Seriously, can this year get any worse for…

10) Wisconsin - Is your glass half-full? Four of the six losses have been on the road, the two home losses are against top-three teams in the conference (and were inexplicably coughed up at crunch time), the last five losses have been by 19 combined points, and the eight- or nine-deep rotation for Wisconsin is starting to play better as an assortment of parts – now they just need to make it whole.

Is your glass half-empty? The defense has been horrendous (according to the Pomeroy rankings, which rate based on points-per-possession, UW has the 188th-best defense in the country, a slight dip from its No. 1 rank in 2007-08) and Bo Ryan doesn't have the personnel to fix it. The Big Ten has clearly caught up, not just in overall talent up and down the conference, but in learning how to defeat a Ryan-coached team. Unless UW miraculously wins the Big Ten tournament, they're not making March Madness … that ship has sailed.

11) Indiana - Umm, yeah, they stink.

Bryan Camp's Poll

1) Purdue

2) Michigan State

3) Illinois

4) Minnesota

5) Penn State

6) Ohio State

7) Northwestern

8) Michigan

9) Wisconsin

10) Iowa

11) Indiana

Brad Fedie's Poll

1) Purdue

2) Michigan State

3) Minnesota

4) Penn State

5) Illinois

6) Northwestern

7) Ohio State

8) Wisconsin

9) Michigan

10) Iowa

11) Indiana

Adam Hoge's Poll

1) Purdue

2) Penn State

3) Michigan State

4) Minnesota

5) Illinois

6) Northwestern

7) Ohio State

8) Michigan

9) Iowa

10) Wisconsin

11) Indiana

Is Penn State really No. 2? Why not? The Nittany Lions are on a four-game win streak and just beat Michigan State in East Lansing. Minnesota moves up a slot after spanking Illinois, while the Kitty Cats are also on the rise after a good week. Then there is lowly Wisconsin still sitting at No. 10. Don't worry Badger fans, after correctly predicting that the losing streak would reach six-games, I'm confident Wisconsin will beat Illinois Thursday en route to a 6-3 finish the rest of the way.

Tyler Mason's Poll

1) Purdue

2) Minnesota

3) Michigan State

4) Illinois

5) Penn State

6) Ohio State

7) Northwestern

8) Michigan

9) Iowa

10) Wisconsin

11) Indiana

Ben Voekel's Poll

1) Purdue

2) Michigan State

3) Minnesota

4) Penn State

5) Illinois

6) Ohio State

7) Michigan

8) Northwestern

9) Wisconsin

10) Iowa

11) Indiana

You could make a really good case to drop the Badgers down to 10, but I just think they have to be about to turn it around. How they can no longer play defense is beyond me, but it is a major issue. Two tough games for the Badgers this week. Lose them both, and they will be 10th on my poll next week, at best.

Purdue rightfully claims the top spot this week. Wouldn't be at all surprised if they didn't relinquish it the rest of the way.

Badgermaniac's Poll

1) Purdue - Going into Wisconsin and winning gives them the slight bump they need to overtake MSU.

2) Michigan State - I would have dropped them below Purdue before their loss to PSU.

3) Illinois - Minnesota hammers them in Minneapolis, but their resume is still stronger.

4) Minnesota - Well balanced team.

5) Penn State - They are my big movers this week, jumping over OSU and Wisconsin.

6) Ohio State - Still ranks behind Wisconsin in some of the power rankings, but they took care of business against two lesser foes.

7) Wisconsin - Teams are shooting over 80% from three point range in the final four minutes of their last six games. They are simply snakebit, but still solid.

8) Northwestern - Making a strong case for an NCAA bid.

9) Michigan - Poor defense is killing them.

10) Iowa - Competitive team but just not good enough to get over the hump right now.

11) Indiana - Have won one game since November.

Benjamin Worgull's Poll

1) Purdue

2) Minnesota

3) Penn State

4) Michigan State

5) Illinois

6) Northwestern

7) Ohio State

8) Michigan

9) Wisconsin

10) Iowa

11) Indiana

There's little question in my mind that Purdue is the top team in the conference, as the Boilermakers showed that they can be successful even when some of their key components are less than a 100 percent. Michigan State's drop to four may be a bit extreme, but Minnesota's performance against Illinois was extremely impressive and Penn State is proving they are a team that shouldn't be taken lightly. When PSU wins at Michigan and upends Wisconsin this week, there will be another team in the thick of the conference race.


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