This week: won at Michigan 57-56
A shaky week for the conference leaders, but nobody else played well enough to ascend to the penthouse. Still, the Spartans have won their first eight conference games for the first time in school history
Next up: Saturday vs. Northwestern
2) No. 16 Wisconsin (16-4, 6-2); LW, 2
Last week: won vs. Michigan 54-48, won vs. Penn State 79-71 (OT)
A win's a win … check that, make that wins are wins. Both the Michigan and Penn State affairs were hard to watch, and Bucky should be very thankful to come out 2-0. That's the Kohl Center's home court effect for you.
Next up: Thursday at Purdue
3) No. 10 Purdue (16-3, 4-3); LW, 3
Last week: won at Illinois 84-78, won vs. Michigan 69-59
That being said (in the Wisconsin capsule), if the Badgers think Mackey Arena is going to be just as friendly, they've got another thing coming. Wisconsin has won once in West Lafayette since the Nixon administration.
Next up: Thursday vs. Wisconsin
4) No. 20 Ohio State (14-6, 4-3); LW, 4
Last week: won vs. Northwestern 76-56, lost at then-No. 12 West Virginia 71-65
The Buckeyes did what they needed to do to regain the nation's love, particularly in the polls, and it was all capped by a 20-point thumping of Northwestern. A win in rowdy Morgantown would have been nice – and the opportunity was definitely on the table until a second-half collapse – but Ohio State is definitely back in track.
Next up: Wednesday at Iowa
5) Michigan (10-10, 3-5); LW, 5
Last week: lost at then-No. 18 Wisconsin 54-48, lost at then-No. 13 Purdue 69-59
This week: lost vs. No.4 Michigan State, 57-56
Can't kill the Wolverines too much for hanging with three tough teams in two really tough buildings. However, because of their early struggles, moral victories will be overshadowed by real defeats; .500 teams usually don't go Dancing.
Next up: Saturday vs. Iowa
6) RV Northwestern (14-6, 3-5); LW, 7
Last week: lost at then-No. 21 Ohio State 76-56, won vs. Illinois 73-68
This week: lost at Minnesota, 65-61
Sheesh, it just seems like every time the Wildcats gain some momentum, they put up a royal stinker, which they did in Columbus. Nicely done on the rebound, though, beating the in-state rival. Of course, they dropped a semi-stinker on Tuesday.
Next up: Saturday at Michigan State
7) Minnesota (13-7, 4-4); LW, 8
Last week: lost vs. then-No. 6 Michigan State 65-64
This week: won vs. Northwestern, 65-61
A missed chance to knock off the conference's best, but all the Golden Gophers get to show for it is landing in the same boat as Illinois: average mark in Big Ten play, unimpressive overall record, tournament hopes slipping away.
Next up: Sunday at Ohio State
8) Illinois (12-8, 4-3); LW, 6
Last week: lost at then-No. 13 Purdue 84-78, lost at Northwestern 73-68
A three-game losing streak has thrown the Fighting Illini's already-dim tournament hopes even further into flux.
Next up: Wednesday at Penn State
9) Iowa (8-12, 2-5); LW, 10
Last week: lost at then-No. 6 Michigan State 70-63, won at Indiana 58-43
Well, well then. Ladies and gentlemen, we live in a world where the oft-mocked Hawkeyes are but one conference game back of the likes of Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan and Northwestern.
Next up: Wednesday vs. Ohio State
10) Indiana (9-10, 3-4); LW, 9
Last week: won at Penn State 67-61, lost vs. Iowa 58-43
We also live in a world where if the Hoosiers had simply taken care of business at home against an inferior Iowa team – instead of putting together a flat performance – Indiana would be 4-3 in conference play.
Next up: Saturday at Illinois
11) Penn State (8-11, 0-7); LW, 11
Last week: lost vs. Indiana 67-61, lost at then-No. 18 Wisconsin 79-71 (OT)
Where there is a muddled, muddled pile of Big Ten teams from 5 to 10, the Nittany Lions are making the decision for resident cellar dweller a very easy one. But they did give the Badgers one heck of a scare, which counts for those aforementioned moral victories that count more in State College than anywhere else.
Next up: Wednesday vs. Illinois