Big Ten Power Rankings

With just five weeks left in the Big Ten regular season, six teams are at or above .500 in conference play and five teams are within three games of first place Michigan State, all of which make for an exciting stretch run. Badger Nation brings in the experts to rank the conference.

After losing four of its first seven conference games, THE Ohio State University's basketball team has seemingly fit the pieces together.

With nine freshmen and sophomores and no seniors, the Buckeyes have won their fourth straight and with its win over then-No. 19 Minnesota, picked up its fifth win over a ranked opponent this season, all coming while being unranked themselves.

Averaging 22 points and 11 rebounds this past week, sophomore Evan Turner leads the conference in scoring leaders with 18.0 points per game and one of only 11 players in the nation who is leading his team in scoring, rebounding and assists and the only player in the Big Ten.

With only two major road hurdles down the stretch (at Wisconsin and at Purdue), the Buckeyes are in prime position for the Big Ten race, but where are they in the Power 11?

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. Seventy-seven points this week is a perfect score, which we have in this edition, and seven 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 WGN 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 (19-4, 9-2) (77)

2) Ohio State (17-5, 6-4) (65)

3) Purdue (17-6, 6-4) (63)

4) Illinois (19-5, 7-4) (61)

5) Minnesota (18-5, 6-5) (47)

6) Wisconsin (14-9, 5-6) (44)

T-7) Penn State (17-7, 6-5) (31)

T-7) Michigan (15-9, 5-6) (31)

9) Northwestern (13-8, 4-6) (21)

10) Iowa (13-11, 3-8) (14)

11) Indiana (6-16, 1-9) (8)

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

Featured Matchup of the Week

No.9 Michigan State at Michigan, 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, ESPN

The only meeting between these two in-state rival, which is a crime, gives Michigan a chance to beat another top-10 team on the season. The Wolverines have already knocked off Duke and UCLA and had No.1 Connecticut on the ropes in Storrs before falling in the closing minutes. It seems like Michigan can play a solid game against anyone, as long as they don't play in the Big Ten.

Michigan State is 5-0 in conference road games for the first time since joining the Big Ten in 1950-51 and has a two-game lead in the conference title race over Illinois, Purdue and Ohio State.

Ohio State at Wisconsin, 8:00 p.m. Sunday, ESPN

College Gameday makes an appearance in Madison for a game that has lost some of its luster since it was originally scheduled. The Buckeyes have turned in on late after a slow start and Wisconsin has won two in a row after dropping six straight games.

These two teams will meet only once this year and the Buckeyes haven't beaten the Badgers in Madison since 2000.

Aaron Brenner's Poll

1) Michigan State

2) Ohio State

3) Purdue

4) Illinois

5) Minnesota

6) Wisconsin

7) Michigan

8) Penn State

9) Northwestern

10) Iowa

11) Indiana

Bryan Camp's Poll

1) Michigan State

2) Ohio State

3) Illinois

4) Purdue

5) Minnesota

6) Wisconsin

7) Penn State

8) Michigan

9) Northwestern

10) Iowa

11) Indiana

Brad Fedie's Poll

1) Michigan State - Despite two disappointing losses, they are still on top of the standings. When they're good, they're great. When they are off, well, they lose to mediocre teams at home. The youngsters are only going to get better though, and they've managed to beat the good teams that they have played decisively. A big run come NCAA time could be in the cards as long as they avoid any ACC teams (0-2).

2) Purdue - The loss against Ohio State hurt and the loss against Illinois brings back the inconsistency talk. We forget at times that this team is still mainly made up of sophomores and freshmen. Losing road games against upper level teams is hardly something to be down about. The best road record in the Big Ten since 2001-2002 is Wisconsin at 32-31.

3) Ohio State - The Bucks can score, averaging 73 ppg in their last nine games including a 93-point effort against Indiana. That said, they did score 93 against Indiana and until this week had beaten only Michigan (x2), Iowa, and Indiana (x2). After this week's victories against Purdue and Minnesota, the Buckeyes went from meeting mediocre expectations, back to the level they were at after beating Miami and Notre Dame in back to back games. Looking at the schedule, a 12-6 Big Ten season seems very attainable.

4) Illinois - A team orientated approach anchored by guard Demetri McCamey and all 80 pounds of center Mike Tisdale keeps the Illini consistent. Unfortunately for them, Coach Bruce Weber has had to remind McCamey not to try to be the hero all day every day and Tisdale has had an inclination towards the hack. I'm guessing playing 16 minutes against Wisconsin while the team shoots 33 percent is not what the beanpole would call a good day. Then again, they were able to regroup and destroy Purdue. Suddenly ‘consistent' is the adjective least likely to describe the Illini.

5) Minnesota - A down week for the Gophers (especially if you add the men's hockey sweep at the hands of Wisconsin). A relatively easy remaining schedule should keep them in the top half of the Big Ten, but missteps at Penn State, Michigan, or Illinois and at home against Wisconsin could keep Minnesota in the middle of the pack.

6) Wisconsin - After a heartbreaking stretch of six games the Badgers found themselves in uncharted territory. It looks as if Bo has navigated the defense ship back to familiar territory. If Wisconsin can keep up the defensive intensity, and the shooters can stay hot (or at least not ice cold), the Badgers could surprise some people and end up in the top third of the conference. Taking care of red hot Ohio State in front of the College Gameday crowd would be a good start.

7)Penn State - Battle is a stud, no question. That's one of the reasons when he goes 3-16 and 4-15 in two games that Penn State should either win or keep tight, they get beat by a combined 30 points. If Penn State wants to make the tournament, Battle needs to make smarter plays and get himself into a rhythm.

8) Michigan - After beating Duke and UCLA in non-conference games the Wolverines nearly struck gold again taking the lead early in the second half and keeping it close the whole game at UCONN. Michigan also scored a Big Ten win against Penn State at home. The fact remains, however, that Michigan hasn't done much to wow us in the Big Ten and needed overtime in Bloomington to get their only road victory.

9) Northwestern - Like I said earlier, it's tough to win on the road in the Big Ten. The loss to Iowa brought that idea home. Fortunately for Northwestern, their next three games are in the high school gym they like to call Welsh-Ryan arena.

10) Iowa - Beating Northwestern helps, but giving Indiana their first Big Ten win does not.

11) Indiana - That's one. Many more are needed before Coach Crean can celebrate. Having to suspend his top scorer indefinitely doesn't help his cause much.

Adam Hoge's Poll

1) Michigan State

2) Ohio State

3) Illinois

4) Purdue

5) Wisconsin

6) Minnesota

7) Michigan

8) Penn State

9) Iowa

10) Northwestern

11) Indiana

Michigan State reclaims the top spot after demolishing Minnesota and Indiana at home. Meanwhile the Buckeyes are on a four-game win streak after a great week. After losing at Wisconsin, Illinois got a big win over Purdue to stay at No. 3.

It's Wisconsin that makes the biggest jump after a convincing win against Illinois and a win at Penn State that might end up saving the Badgers' NCAA Tournament hopes. Minnesota still has the better Big Ten record, but after losing two straight, it would be hard to put the Gophers ahead of Wisconsin.

Michigan had a pretty good week, beating Penn State by 20 and nearly beating No. 1 UConn on the road. And it's Penn State that falls the hardest, all the way down to No. 8 after not showing up in Ann Arbor and losing a tough one at home against the Badgers. With a daunting schedule looming, the Nittany Lions' NCAA Tournament hopes are on serious life support.

Ben Voekel's Poll

1) Michigan State

2) Illinois

3) Purdue

4) Ohio State

5) Minnesota

6) Wisconsin

7) Michigan

8) Penn State

9) Northwestern

10) Indiana

11) Iowa

The Badgers might be on to something. With Jon Leuer in the starting lineup, UW has won its last two games and is playing significantly better defense. The Badgers are not through the toughest part of their schedule, and with the way they're playing, wins should become less scarce. By the end of the season, I wouldn't be suprised to see Wisconsin back among the top five in the Big Ten.

Illinois, with a season sweep of Purdue, jumps ahead of the Boilermakers into second behind Michigan State.

Badgermaniac's Poll

1) Michigan State - Another flip flop this week as Purdue loses two road games as Robbie Hummel struggles through injuries.

2) Purdue

3) Illinois - The Illini are struggling on the road, but their win over Purdue allows them to hang in at No.3.

4) Ohio State - There is a huge mess in the middle of the Big Ten, and the Buckeyes have four straight wins, three of which are quality wins.

5) Wisconsin - Amazing what happens when teams cool off a bit against you. The next three are very winnable for the Badgers and they are poised to make a move.

6) Minnesota - Gophers have now lost four of their last six but now hit a fairly soft spot in their schedule so they still should be able to solidify an NCAA bid.

7) Penn State - Losing at home to Wisconsin was big, as they have a really tough stretch over the next two weeks. The Big Ten is looking like a five or six-bid league right now as teams continue to beat up on each other.

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

9) Michigan - Have now lost 6 of their last 8. They just aren't a very good club right now.

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

11) Indiana - Beat the Hawks, but they aren't really close overall.

Benjamin Worgull's Poll

1) Michigan State

2) Ohio State

3) Purdue

4) Illinois

5) Minnesota

6) Wisconsin

7) Michigan

8) Penn State

9) Northwestern

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.

Allow me to amend that statement from last week. There's no question that Purdue is the top team in the conference when Robbie Hummel plays. Two road games without Hummel equal two devastating losses that push the Boilermakers to the back of the pack. Boilermakers can rebound if Hummel can get healthy since Purdue has yet to play MSU.

Two dominating wins by Michigan State moved them to the top stop again, but Ohio State had the best week by far, grabbing two home wins over a ranked Purdue and Minnesota.

Illinois bounced back with a loss at UW to beat Purdue, pushing them ahead of the Gophers who are back to earth after a 0-2 week and in a skid.

I'll give props to Michigan for showing up against UCONN, but the Wolverines need to start playing better in the conference and never again will I rank Penn State in the top three.


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