Big Ten Power Rankings

Wisconsin has won four straight, Michigan State continues to roll, Illinois survives close calls on the road and the middle of the conference pack takes a firm seat on the NCAA Bubble. Just another week for the experts to dissect in the Badger Nation Power 11.

Who's bubble is going to burst this season?

With as many as eight teams having a legitimate arguement to being in the field of 65 come March, each win, or loss, brings more clarity to the tournament picture. As February winds down and March nears, the 11 Big Ten teams have combined to go 92-3 against teams ranked 150 and below in the RPI. Throw in the fact that the Big Ten has a .807 non-conference winning percentage, 12 wins against the RPI Top-25 and 39 wins against the RPI Top-50, the No. 2 rated conference by RPI and the No. 1 strength of schedule, plenty of Big Ten teams will be highlighting that on its resume.

Without further delay, let's bring in the experts.

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 and seven is the lowest score.

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 (20-4, 10-2) (77)

2) Illinois (21-5, 9-4) (68)

3) Purdue (19-6, 8-4) (64)

4) Ohio State (17-6, 7-5) (53)

5) Wisconsin (16-9, 7-6) (45)

T-6) Minnesota (19-6, 7-6) (38)

T-6) Penn State (18-8, 7-6) (38)

8) Michigan (16-10, 6-7) (29)

9) Northwestern (13-10, 4-8) (18)

10) Iowa (13-13, 3-10) (15)

11) Indiana (6-18, 1-11) (9)

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

Featured Matchup of the Week

No.5 Michigan State at No.21 Purdue, 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, ESPN

The matchup we've been waiting for since the beginning of the season has lost some of its luster with Purdue barely squeaking by conference doormats and the Spartans a perfect 6-0 on the road this season.

The Boilermakers badly need Robbie Hummel, who has missed three of the last four games and played poorly at Iowa on Saturday, and the Spartans are more than likely going to get Raymar Morgan back, a huge boost to their offense.

Purdue, who is hoping for some luck by unveiling new uniforms for the game, has lost already to a top-five team at home and will need a big effort to keep itself in the conference race.

Aaron Brenner's Poll

1) Michigan State – Ask Jay Bilas if any Big Ten team has a Final Four run in it, and without hesitation, the ESPN college hoops analyst says flatly, "Michigan State". Their chances hinge on Raymar Morgan shaking off pneumonia and getting back to full, not partial, strength.

2) Illinois – I'm not thrilled about putting the Illini this high, seeing as they almost blew it at Indiana. But that Wisconsin loss was to a desperate team on the verge of drastic improvement, and you can't look past the 18-point victory over Purdue to complete a season sweep.

3) Purdue – When it's all said and done, IF and when Robbie Hummel gets healthy, the Boilers will not only win the Big Ten tournament, but also have the best chance to make a deep NCAA run.

4) Ohio State – The Buckeyes looked flat Saturday, nothing like what a 17-6 team should at this point. But they're still really young, and as coach Thad Matta said, "we were a step slow all night". OSU has only one particularly tough game – at Purdue – remaining.

5) Wisconsin – Could the Badgers finish 11-7 in the conference slate, thanks to a torrid 8-1 finish? Why not? They'll beat pushovers Indiana (twice) and Michigan (at home) and could definitely steal back a victory in Minneapolis from the Gophers. NCAA chances are looking fine and dandy.

6) Minnesota – The honeymoon's over, Tubby. Since that upset victory at Wisconsin, Gophers are 3-5, with two cheap wins against Indiana.

7) Penn State – Every Big Ten team has had its tough stretches this year, and the Nittany Lions just had theirs with a three-game losing streak. But a win over the Gophers is a good start, and I have a feeling Penn State will still be heard from by season's end.

8) Michigan – I'm not going to say that overtime victory Sunday at NU was pretty by any means. But I will say this: that Manny Harris is a stud. Best player in the conference, without match or master.

9) Northwestern – Let's throw a pity party for the poor Wildcats, who just cannot get over that hump. But look at it this way: nobody's gonna be lining up to play Northwestern in 2009-10 with any shred of full-blown confidence.

10) Indiana – You know what? I'm feeling nice today. Hoosiers fought hard in that home loss to Illinois, cutting a 21-point lead to six and showing a ton of spark in front of a still-loyal Assembly Hall crowd. Indiana gets lifted a spot for the first time.

11) Iowa – Unfortunate victims of my kindness today. Not like the Hawkeyes are going Dancing, anyway.

Bryan Camp's Poll

1) Michigan State

2) Illinois

3) Purdue

4) Wisconsin

5) Ohio State

6) Minnesota

7) Penn State

8) Michigan

9) Northwestern

10) Iowa

11) Indiana

Brad Fedie's Poll

1) Michigan State

2) Illinois

3) Purdue

4) Wisconsin

5) Ohio State

6) Penn State

7) Minnesota

8) Michigan

9) Northwestern

10) Iowa

11) Indiana

On the rise:

Wisconsin – A four game winning streak capped by a nationally televised win over a ranked opponent. The Badgers have found their defensive swagger and have figured out that the best way to stop an opponent from scoring is to not let them shoot. The Badgers have averaged ten shots more than their opponents in the last three games.

Illinois – Nick Davis's emergence as the third scorer and a guy capable of leading the team in points has helped take the pressure off McCamey and Tisdale. Five winnable (and losable) games stand between them and a chance at a share of the Big Ten title. Beating Michigan State in Champagne on March 1st is a big part of that equation.

Fading Fast:

Minnesota – Thanks to Indiana the Gophers have a win in their last four. Thanks to inconsistent play, the other three games didn't go quite as well. It looks like the physicality of the Big Ten season may be wearing the young Gophers down. The games at Illinois and Michigan and at home against Wisconsin will tell us if the Gophers have anything left in the tank.

Ohio State – Evan Turner had a tough time keeping hold of the rock against Wisconsin. His six turnovers were just as much the fault of biting off more than he could chew as it was tough defense. Driving into double teams doesn't help, especially when you have decent talent and size around you.

Adam Hoge's Poll

1) Michigan State

2) Illinois

3) Purdue

4) Wisconsin

5) Ohio State

6) Penn State

7) Michigan

8) Minnesota

9) Iowa

10) Indiana

11) Northwestern

Not a whole lot of change at the top this week. Ohio State falls past Wisconsin just because they lost to the Badgers Saturday. Otherwise, the biggest change of the week is probably Minnesota, which continues to struggle. After an ugly win at home against Indiana, the Gophers lost at Penn State.

And no, that's not a misprint at the bottom. I moved Indiana past Northwestern because these are power rankings and there's hardly anything powerful about the Kitty Cats right now. NU blew a huge lead to Illinois in unimaginable fashion and then couldn't hold on to a late lead against Michigan. The Hoosiers are at least giving their best effort every game and that's more than the Wildcats can say right now.

Ben Voekel's Poll

1) Michigan State

2) Purdue

3) Illinois

4) Ohio State

5) Wisconsin

6) Minnesota

7) Penn State

8) Michigan

9) Northwestern

10) Iowa

11) Indiana

Badgermaniac's Poll

1) Michigan State - Have weathered the loss of Raymar Morgan well. Even if they lose at Purdue this week, I think they have earned the #1 spot.

2) Purdue - Very fortunate to beat a shorthanded Iowa team. I don't think they can do significant damage in the post-season unless Hummel gets healthy.

3) Illinois - Northwestern self-destruction kept the Badgers out of the 3-hole.

4) Wisconsin - Joe Krabbenhoft has been vital to their run.

5) Ohio State - I wouldn't argue if someone wanted to put the Buckeyes fourth. They are going to be trouble next year if they keep their roster intact.

6) Minnesota - Pundits seem to think the Gophers are a lock, but they are now 1-5 in their last 6 games NOT against Indiana. If they don't play better down the stretch, it is not inconceivable that they play themselves out.

7) Penn State - Win over Minnesota was HUGE for the Lions. Still, they just aren't going to be able to get into the NCAA barring anything bizarre (RPI of 84 right now).

8) Michigan - Play Minnesota twice down the stretch, and they could be key as to whether the Gophers get into the tourney as they are fully capable of sweeping those games.

9) Northwestern - It is going to be a season of "what ifs" for the Wildcats. Just when you think they are ready to make their move, they lose to Iowa, hand another game to their opponent down the stretch with a home collapse against Illinois, and then lose in OT to Michigan.

10) Iowa - Hanging in there but not getting it done in the end. Keeping the roster intact continues to be a problem with the loss of Peterson.

11) Indiana - I don't see a win left on their schedule…maybe at home against Northwestern?

Benjamin Worgull's Poll

1) Michigan State

2) Illinois

3) Ohio State

4) Purdue

5) Wisconsin

6) Penn State

7) Minnesota

8) Michigan

9) Iowa

10) Northwestern

11) Indiana

While the Buckeyes struggled in Madison, Ohio State clearly showed me they are one of the better teams in the conference while Purdue, despite two wins, are barely skating by without Hummel. Wisconsin's four wins are nice but the Badgers' mettle will be tested on the road this week in Hoosierville and against Bo's personal whipping boy, although I expect State will make a pretty good statement in its two games this week.

After starting out hot, the bottom five of the Big Ten isn't very good, as Minnesota's wimpy non-conference schedule is starting to show Goldy's true colors.


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