Big Ten Power Rankings

Eight Big Ten teams have built its resumes and are positioned to be dancing when the brackets are announced on Selection Sunday, which is just 20 days away. Have some of those teams, like Penn State, positioned themselves in the top half of Badger Nation's Power 11?

There's no question that this season more than others, the Big Ten's top eight teams are the most competitive they have been in a long time. With the top eight teams already possessing at least 17 wins, and four teams reaching the 20-win mark, there are a bunch of teams in the Big Ten that feel they have a legitimate right to be dancing come the third week of March. One of those teams, and probably deservingly so, is Ed DeChellis' Nittany Lions. After having a non-conference schedule ranked No.325 in the country, the questions about the Penn State entering the conference schedule was if they would be able to answer the challenge after not getting challenged. Without question, the answer was yes.

Penn State has five wins over RPI top-50 opponents, including big road victories at Michigan State and Illinois, and has beat Purdue and Michigan at home. Without question, the Lions can also pull it out in a close game.

Twenty-three games during the Big Ten season have been decided by five or fewer. Penn State has been in eight of those games and owns a record of 6-2. Ed DeChellis for Big Ten Coach of the Year?

With a roster that has 10 freshmen or sophomores on it, most would say yes, but that's a discussion for another poll. That having been said, let's get to the rankings!

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 (21-5, 11-3) (76)

2) Purdue (21-6, 10-4) (71)

3) Illinois (22-6, 10-5) (59)

4) Wisconsin (17-10, 8-7) (57)

5) Penn State (19-8, 8-6) (38)

6) Minnesota (20-7, 8-7) (40)

7) Ohio State (17-8, 7-7) (39)

8) Michigan (17-11, 7-8) (29)

T-9) Northwestern (14-11, 5-9) (18)

T-9) Iowa (14-13, 3-10) (18)

11) Indiana (6-20, 1-13) (7)

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

Featured Matchups of the Week

Penn State at Ohio State, 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, ESPN

The Buckeyes have lost three in a row and need to find at least three more wins in their final four games if they want to feel at ease on Selection Sunday. On the other hand, Penn State is trying to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2001 and is having a remarkable run through the conference slate. The Nittany Lions have won two straight, including a road victory over Ohio State last Wednesday, and have had a week to prepare for this one. Whoever wins this one strengths their bubble significantly.

No.9 Michigan State at No.20 Illinois, Sunday, CBS

If Illinois wants to make a run at the conference title, the Fighting Illini will have their chance against the Spartans in Assembly Hall. Illinois let MSU off the hook in mid-January, falling by six in a game Illinois desperately would like to do over.

Michigan State has looked vulnerable over the past week, getting crushed at Purdue and needing a late run to edge Wisconsin at home. The Spartans are 6-1 on the road during conference play, an amazing statistic.

Aaron Brenner's Poll

1) Michigan State – I guess I can understand why Tom Izzo really, really, really hates Wisconsin … something to do with Bo Ryan coming in and calling him names and stealing all his toys and beating his teams up real bad. But then again, it's an unfathomably high degree to which that hatred has transferred over to his players (Goran Suton calling Wisconsin "dirty") and his fans (seems like the Izzone had a little extra fire on Sunday).

2) Purdue – Coulda been placed No. 1 after spanking Michigan State on Tuesday. But I want to see the Boilers do it again … in East Lansing on Mar. 8, or on a neutral court in Indianapolis the week after that. Painter's pick.

3) Wisconsin – Chins up after that effort Sunday. A three-game winning streak to conclude the regular season, plus a nice showing at the Big Ten tourney, should provide enough momentum for an exciting NCAA tournament run.

4) Ohio State – Just me, or are the Buckeyes on the quietest three-game losing streak ever? Thad Matta's crew just seems to have a knack for losing pretty. In a style-over-substance world, that's a half-notch below winning ugly.

5) Illinois – I would place them in the top four above the Buckeyes after winning at Value City Sunday … but I just can't get that 33-point "effort" out of my head. How do you give up 38 points at home to an average team and lose?

6) Penn State – For anyone that didn't notice, the Suns-Celtics score Sunday was 38-33. After one quarter.

7) Minnesota – Nothing like a little butt-whooping over Northwestern to cure the losing blues. It does get tougher for the Gophers; a trip to Illinois Thursday, and then a week off before hosting the resurgent Badgers.

8) Michigan – Good news for Wolverines fans? With games against Purdue, Wisconsin and Minnesota (the latter two on the road) looming, there's three major opportunities to please the NCAA tourney decision-makers. Bad news? Uh…they have to play Purdue, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Manny Harris had better lace up the big boy shoes.

9) Northwestern – Just not the ‘Cats' year. Next season though ... this team could be for real.

10) Iowa – Nice little last gasp effort in ruining Michigan's season Sunday. Jake Kelly (19.6 points per game over his last three) is quite impressive.

11) Indiana – Back to the cellar you go, Creany. Tanning season just around the corner.

Bryan Camp's Poll

1) Purdue

2) Michigan State

3) Illinois

4) Wisconsin

5) Penn State

6) Minnesota

7) Ohio State

8) Michigan

9) Northwestern

10) Iowa

11) Indiana

Brad Fedie's Poll

1) Michigan State

2) Purdue

3) Illinois

4) Wisconsin

5) Penn State

6) Minnesota

7) Ohio State

8) Michigan

9) Iowa

10) Northwestern

11) Indiana

Adam Hoge's Poll

1) Michigan State

2) Purdue

3) Illinois

4) Wisconsin

5) Penn State

6) Minnesota

7) Michigan

8) Iowa

9) Ohio State

10) Northwestern

11) Indiana

Could this be any harder this week? Michigan State lost to Purdue, but then they had that great comeback against the Badgers and still have a one-game lead over the Boilermakers. Then you got Illinois and Wisconsin, which both looked awful at one point this week but still went 1-1. Then there's Penn State, which won it's one game of the week on the road, but is a 38-33 win really that impressive?

How about Minnesota, which crushed Northwestern Sunday but looked terrible at Michigan earlier in the week. Some would argue that the Wolverines just played great in that win over the Gophers, but they certainly didn't look great when they lost at Iowa Sunday. It's pretty obvious the Hawkeyes and the Wildcats aren't good, but when they go out and beat Ohio State and Michigan, it certainly gets confusing. Oh well, at least there's Indiana. We can all agree on No. 11.

Ben Voekel's Poll

1) Michigan State

2) Purdue

3) Illinois

4) Wisconsin

5) Penn State

6) Minnesota

7) Ohio State

8) Michigan

9) Northwestern

10) Iowa

11) Indiana

This is shaping up to be one heck of a stretch run for the conference. After the top three teams, spots four through eight are pretty fluid. The good news is the Big Ten Tournament should be one of the more competitive conference tournaments around this year. The bad news: bubble teams will beat up on each other for the final two weeks, probably knocking down the number of at-large teams the Big Ten will get in.

Badgermaniac's Poll

1) Michigan State - Illinois and Purdue have better defenses, but the Spartans are the best-balanced team in the league.

2) Purdue - A solid No.2

3) Wisconsin - Outplayed MSU for 30 minutes on the road. Defense has improved to top 60 (Kenpom) ranking.

4) Illinois - Scored only 33 points at home against Penn State followed by big road victory against Ohio State.

5) Ohio State - Nobody has seemed to want the 5-spot in the rankings. The Bucks lose twice, but hang onto the spot by default.

6) Minnesota - I guess I will keep the Gophers here, but they really aren't playing well, though they destroyed Northwestern.

7) Penn State - As I noted last week, their case is going to be a tough one for the NCAA. Their RPI isn't even close to being worthy, but the lack of viable candidates to fill out the field this year is going to work in their favor. Minnesota has a better resume, but head to head, I think I'd take PSU right now.

8) Michigan - Beat Northwestern and Minnesota to close that gap and give the Big Ten a shot at getting in 8 teams ... until they lose a crucial game to Iowa.

9) Northwestern

10) Iowa - Hanging in the top 100 and clinging to a possible NIT berth.

11) Indiana - Man, do they stink!

Benjamin Worgull's Poll

1) Michigan State

2) Purdue

3) Penn State

4) Illinois

5) Wisconsin

6) Ohio State

7) Minnesota

8) Michigan

9) Iowa

10) Northwestern

11) Indiana

No need to cry Tommy, as I am lamenting your Spartans as my number one team for the rest of the season … unless of course you lay an egg again (Northwestern *** cough *** Penn State *** cough). NO way is State a top 10 team, but they are the best team in the conference.

I thought about jumping Wisconsin into the top four but I couldn't justify moving the Badgers ahead of Penn State, who registered big wins over Minnesota and Illinois, and the Fighting Illini, who made up for that 33-point debacle by getting a key road win over Ohio State. The Badgers are fine but all they did this week was beat up on lowly Indiana and blew a big opportunity in East Lansing. UW needs to get to 20 wins to make the tournament, as a resume devoid of a signature win makes for an antsy Selection Sunday.

Speaking of antsy, Ohio State, Minnesota and Michigan are in trouble. The Buckeyes need to beat either Penn State or Purdue this week, Minnesota has lost six of nine and Michigan has two wins over top-five teams but not much else. I'd say this week is important for some people, yes?


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