If you're a big college basketball fan who's been waiting for some excitement on the hardwood – and you're NOT interested in the mostly-meaningless bowl season – then check out Purdue taking on No. 6 West Virginia on New Year's Day. C'mon, that's a lot more significant than watching Northwestern in the Outback Bowl.
2) No. 15 Ohio State (10-2)
From the "Not Sayin', Just Sayin'" Department: Ohio State is 1-2 against ranked teams this year. Its next opponent is 2-0. And the Buckeyes are the visitors in this matchup.
3) Wisconsin (10-2)
Pop quiz for those paying attention: name one of two Big Ten teams to beat two ranked teams this season. The first would be the Badgers, knocking off Maryland and Duke. If the Kohl Center magic can keep it going against OSU, what a way that would be to ring in 2010.
4) Northwestern (10-1)
Longest Big Ten winning streak this side of West Lafayette, and don't sniff at the schedule – four victims along the 9-0 road play in big-time conferences (Notre Dame, Iowa State, NC State and Stanford).
5) Minnesota (10-3, 1-0)
The Gophers really have that offense clicking; they're averaging a smidgen under 90 points in their six games (all victories – but noted, all at the Barn) since Dec. 2. In fact, you might say that Big Ten-opening win against Penn State (75-70) was an outage of sorts.
6) Illinois (8-4)
Oh, by the way, the Fighting Illini are the other team to beat two ranked teams in 2009. That's why, despite a two-game skid – in fact, they've had two of those already this season – Illinois is placed above you-know-who on this list.
7) No. 11 Michigan State (9-3)
Faithful Power Poll readers know I'm big on current success. You can't grade a test based on how you think the test taker will do in the future; you can only evaluate the results on the court.
State has lost both its challenges against ranked foes (albeit tough ones, UNC and Texas). Four of the six teams I have positioned above MSU have beaten a team that was in the top 12 at the time, and have all won two-thirds or more of their games. The other two are Purdue (12-0) and Northwestern (10-1). I'm just ranking ‘em like they should be ranked, even if the AP and coaches' voters don't see it that way.
8) Penn State (8-5, 0-1)
In a year where Big Ten victories will be hard-earned, it's got to be disheartening to go into Minnesota, shoot 48 percent FGs, make half of your 3-point attempts, have Talor Battle do his thing (23 points), hold an advantage at the free-throw line ... and still lose. The Nittany Lions still aren't doing enough of the little things to win more games.
9) Indiana (6-6)
You think if Indiana's current trend of "win one, lose one, win two, lose two" continues into the Big Ten season, Tom Crean would be pleased? Yeah, me too.
10) Michigan (6-5)
The Wolverines have adopted that same flip-flopping trend of late – they're 3-3 in December, alternating wins and losses each game – but that's just not going to cut it in Ann Arbor.
11) Iowa (5-8, 0-1)
Well, the Hawkeyes were leading Purdue. At halftime, even. That could be the highlight of the year ... and Iowa fans, caught up in anticipation of the Orange Bowl, probably didn't even notice.
(records as of Tuesday, Dec. 29)