Winners of nine of its last 10, Ohio State is in prime position to clinch a share of the conference Tuesday at home, and then resting up for what bounds to be a physical conference tournament. Evan Turner and OSU could be the sleeper team to make a deep NCAA run. Turner has been named player of the week seven times this season … SEVEN! That's nuts.
Next up: Tuesday vs. Illinois
2) No. 11 Michigan State (21-7, 11-4); LW, 3
Last week: win at then-No.3 Purdue 53-44
Michigan State had a week off to rest, and it showed by registering a gritty win over a wounded Purdue team trying to find its identity without its best player. It's hard to win in West Lafayette, so give the Spartans credit, no matter how overrated you think they are.
Next up: Thursday vs. Penn State
3) No. 7 Purdue (23-3, 1-3 Big Ten); Last week's rank, 1
Last week: won at Minnesota 59-58, loss vs. then-No.14 Michigan State 53-44
Losing Robbie Hummel seems like the death sentence to the Boilermaker's chances of getting to the Final Four in Indy. Purdue still has a lot of weapons, which it showed against Sparty in front of a raucous home crowd, but the Boilermakers are going to have to figure out how to survive without their leader. It's not looking good, as Purdue scored only 16 points in the second half Sunday.
Next up: Wednesday vs. Indiana
4) No. 15 Wisconsin (21-7, 11-5); LW, 4
Last week: won at Indiana 78-46.
The Badgers basically had the whole week off and took a sightseeing vacation to historic Assembly Hall to take a look at all those old banners in the rafters. Still, with the MSU victory over Purdue, the Badgers have to be kicking themselves for failing to close out Illinois at home or not showing up in Minneapolis, as UW looks to finish one game out of the race.
Next up: Wednesday vs. Iowa
5) Minnesota (17-11, 8-8); LW, 6
Last week: loss vs. then-No.3 Purdue 59-58, won at Illinois 62-60.
Well, look who is living up to expectations? Minnesota was suppose to be challenging the Ohio States, Purdues and Wisconsins of the world and because the Gophers have started to do just that, they are back in the hunt. It didn't matter that the Gophers nearly blew a 19-point lead in their two-point win at Illinois, but it was good enough to even their Big Ten record. Win the two winnable games this week and the Gophers are probably dancing. Who would have thought? Royce White should sing a song about this one …. Oh, too soon?
Next up: Tuesday at Michigan
6) RV Illinois (18-11, 10-6); LW, 5
Last week: won at Michigan 51-44, lost vs. Minnesota 62-60.
Off the bubble with a win at Michigan only to go right back on it with a bad home loss to the Gophers, making the Illini losers of three of their last four games. Goes to show how poor Illinois is when McCamey doesn't perform. At Michigan, McCamey led his squad with 14 points. Against Minnesota, he was only 4-of-18 with nine quiet points. You need more than that if you're going to make noise in March.
Next up: Tuesday at No.6 Ohio State
7) Michigan (13-15, 6-10); LW, 7
Last week: loss vs. Illinois, 51-44, lost at then-No.9 Ohio State 66-55
With it being announced that Rich Rod and Michigan football were cheaters last week, did anybody in Ann Arbor care about the basketball team? Anyone? Hello?
Next up: Tuesday vs. Minnesota
8) Northwestern (18-11, 7-10); LW, 9
Last week: won vs. Iowa 74-57, loss at Penn State 79-60
I don't think a big inter-city win over the feisty Cougars and their 8-21 record on Wednesday is going to boost the RPI and strength of schedule enough for the Wildcats. Getting swept by Penn State this season means the Wildcats will have to win four games in four days in Indy (yet again) to make the tournament … something we've known since the first Nittany Lions debacle.
Next up: Wednesday vs. Chicago State
9) Penn State (11-17, 3-13); LW, 10
Last week: lost vs. then-No.9 Ohio State 75-67, won vs. Northwestern 79-60.
Arguably the best week of the basketball season for the Nittany Lions, as they battle back from a monster deficit to put a scare into Ohio State and then complete a season sweep of a decent Northwestern team. Penn State is in rebuilding mode, but this was a good week to hang its hat on.
Next up: Thursday at No.11 Michigan State
10) Iowa (10-19, 4-12); LW, 8
Last week: lost vs. Northwestern 74-57, win vs Indiana 73-57
You creamed Crean and Company. Congrats Iowa, but now you get Wisconsin in the unwinnable Kohl Center.
Next up: Wednesday at No.15 Wisconsin
11) Indiana (9-19, 3-13); LW, 10 Last week: lost vs. then-No. 17 Wisconsin 78-46, loss at Iowa 73-57
Speaking of those banners, Indiana hasn't added one since 1987 and the game against the Badgers showed that it's still going to be a couple of years before another one is added. It's sad that the loudest roar from your fan base is when your coach gets ejected. It's worse that the biggest hit came when he angrily threw himself into the locker room door. It's even worse when Crean said his tough-guy team was ready to play in Iowa City, yeah, not so much.
Next up: Wednesday at No.7 Purdue