Big Ten Power Rankings: January 27th, 2014

Dylan Burkhardt
on
imageThe Big Ten Roundup has been replaced with Big Ten Power Rankings this year at UM Hoops. We’ll take a look across the conference on a weekly basis, rank all 12 teams and attempt to provide some insight about each team.

1. Michigan (7-0, 1.19 PPP, 1.05 Opp. PPP, +.14 EM)

Michigan moves into first place after knocking off the two teams that were ahead of it in last week’s rankings. The Wolverines don’t have the best efficiency numbers but they can flat out score. Now… about that defense. It’s hard to imagine the league’s ninth best defense not catching up to Michigan at some point and ending up in a loss. Until then, Michigan commands the top spot.

There’s just something about winning at the Breslin Center for John Beilein’s program. The Wolverines won in East Lansing for the first time in over a decade on January 27th, 2011. Since then, the Wolverines have more regular season Big Ten wins than anyone else in the conference.

image

Before the game in East Lansing, Michigan was 22-39 under John Beilein in regular season Big Ten games. Since then the Wolverines are 40-14. That’s better than Michigan State, Wisconsin and Ohio State, the three teams that are far ahead of the rest of the conference. An arbitrary split? Sure, but there’s little doubt that something about the Michigan program changed after that win.

2. Michigan State (7-1, 1.11 PPP, .96 Opp. PPP, +.15 EM)

Nik Stauskas might be the best offensive player in the Big Ten, but Gary Harris might be the most complete player. The two had their first head-to-head battle of 2014 and while Stauskas got the victory, it was Harris that guarded Stauskas and not the other way around. He negated Stauskas for long stretches of the game – the 6-foot-6 Canadian had four different stretches of four minutes or longer where he didn’t even attempt a field goal – but Harris couldn’t guard Stauskas for the whole night. Stauskas hit three triples in the second half and all of them were against Spartan defenders other than Harris.

The two players look like the runaway favorites for the Big Ten Player of the Year race, but right now Stauskas might have the leg up with one head-to-head victory to his name. Here are their conference-only statistics.

image

3. Iowa (5-2, 1.12 PPP, .96 Opp. PPP, +.16 EM)

Iowa has already played games at Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan. Coming away with a win in one of those three games is an acceptable result. But now the Hawkeyes have another more difficult and important test at hand: Can they defend home court against the league’s elite? Michigan State comes to town on Tuesday and a win would move the Hawkeyes into a second place tie while a loss would leave them three games out of first.

4. Wisconsin (4-3, 1.17 PPP, 1.06 Opp. PPP, +.10 EM)

Did the Badgers finally fix their defensive issues at Purdue? It was definitely a step in the right direction. Wisconsin held Purdue to just .9 points per possession in a decisive 14 point road win. After playing three of its last four games on the road, Wisconsin has four out of the next five at home and a chance to make a push toward the top.

5. Minnesota (4-4, 1.10 PPP, 1.11 Opp. PPP, -.01 EM)

In a league that seems filled with underachieving offenses, the Gophers just can’t play defense. The Gophers have allowed 1.11 points per possession in Big Ten play, by far the worst mark in the league. Minnesota did manage to beat Wisconsin at home this week, but defensive issues caught up to them at Nebraska. The Huskers scored 1.18 points per possession en route to an 82-78 home upset.

Against the Badgers, Austin Hollins put forth his entry for dunk of the year in the conference.

6. Ohio State (3-4, 1.01 PPP, .97 Opp. PPP, +.04 EM)

The Buckeyes suffered their fourth loss in a row at Nebraska on Monday before knocking off Illinois at home. Not a great week by any stretch, but nobody else did much to claim a stake above them. The Buckeyes have bounced back from difficult stretches in the Big Ten before. Last last year they lost three of four games in early February before winning their final five.

7. Northwestern (3-5, .84 PPP, 1.04 Opp. PPP, -.20 EM)

Northwestern has yet to score over a point per possession in the Big Ten, but has won three of its last five games. The Wildcats aren’t the only offensive challenged team in the league, they just happen to be the worst. However, Chris Collins’ group has proven that it can legitimately stop middle-tier Big Ten teams in their tracks. Northwestern continues to slow down games to a brutal pace and is content to play games in the 40s and 50s.

8. Indiana (3-4, .97 PPP, 1.00 Opp. PPP, –.03 EM)

Indiana has always struggled with turnovers, and this year is no exception. The Hoosiers were still able to have the best offense in the Big Ten last season, despite turning the ball over more often than every team other than Minnesota, because they shot the ball so well. This year’s Indiana team doesn’t have that luxury. The Hoosiers are shooting just 41% on twos (11th in the Big Ten) and attempt more twos than anyone in the league other than Iowa.

9. Purdue (3-4, .99 PPP, 1.02 Opp. PPP, -.03 EM)

Purdue lost at Northwestern in two overtimes and was blown out at home by Wisconsin. For a couple weeks, Purdue was staying above the fray by just doing exactly what could be expected of them. Last week’s losses mean that is no longer the case. With three of their next four on the road, including trips to Ann arbor and Columbus, things could start to snowball in West Lafayette.

10. Nebraska (2-5, .97 PPP, 1.06 Opp. PPP, -.09 EM)

Tim Miles and Nebraska have faced a brutal opening stretch of schedule in Big Ten play, but brighter days are ahead. The Huskers picked up a very nice home win over Minnesota on Sunday and have only lost one game within the brand new Pinnacle Bank Arena. Terran Petteway was the hero against Minnesota, tallying 35 points on 10-of-15 shooting against the Gophers – the top scoring performance of the 2014 Big Ten season. Petteway’s 35 were the most points scored in a Big Ten game since Brandon Paul racked up 43 on January 10th, 2012, but Petteway did it with lethal efficiency.

image

11. Illinois (2-6, .92 PPP, 1.02 Opp. PPP, -.10 EM)

Illinois’ most impressive win in Big Ten play is at home in overtime over Indiana. The Illini offense has just gone dry. On January 7th, I pointed out that Rayvonte Rice had one of the best combined usage rates and offensive ratings in the conference. Big Ten play has been… humbling. Rice has struggled mightily against all of the league except in his two games against Indiana.

image

His teammates aren’t been much help either, they combined for 26 points on 11-of-43 shooting in Sunday’s loss at Indiana.

12. Penn State (1-6, .97 PPP, 1.08 Opp. PPP, -.11 EM)

The Nittany Lions finally got a league win, at home over Nebraska, but they were lucky to escape with a win after some poor decisions down the stretch doomed the Huskers.

  • Champswest

    We are less than half way through the B1G season and it is quickly becoming a 3 team race. Just based on won loss records, OSU and Minny would likely have to win out and Wisconsin has little room for error.

    Tuesday’s game at Iowa, as Dylan stated, is huge for both teams.

  • UMHoopsFan

    Here are the road games left for the top 6 in these rankings against each other:

    UM has @Iowa, @OSU

    MSU has @Iowa, @Wiscy, @UM, @OSU

    Iowa has @OSU, @Minny

    Wiscy has @Iowa, @UM

    Minn has @Wiscy, @UM, @OSU

    OSU has @Iowa, @Wiscy

    Obviously, (1) trips to Bloomington are nothing to sneeze at, and trips to Champaign or West Lafayette (not to mention Lincoln) are tough too; and (2) it’s still tough to win at home aganist the top teams.at home (MSU’s remaining home slate is much easier than UM’s or Iowa’s). Still, based on the current records and remaining road games against top tier teams, which generally are the toughest, UM is in a great spot going forward.

    • Mattski

      Someone at mgoblog noted that the two remaining games we’ll have longest to prepare for are MSU–6 days–and Wisconsin–4 days. I’d say this also augurs pretty well. I was concerned about our being gassed Saturday, with just three days of rest, to MSU’s four, after two grueling previous games. . . With MSU’s injuries and one win over Iowa, you’d have to think we’re in the driver’s seat.

      • UMHoopsFan

        For the opposite reason, our road games @IU, @OSU, @Iowa, and @UI are all a bit tougher because they’re all on two days rest – and 3 of those 4 are the 1st prep for that team this season. And in the thirteen days beginning 1/30 and ending 2/11 we have 5 games (ending with @Iowa, @OSU). At least we avoid the 1-day rest this year. Every schedule has its +s and -s and overall I like the way ours shakes out (especially now having gone 7-0).

  • DingoBlue

    I just wanted to say I like the “Luke Winn” approach to these trying to provide some above and beyond content for each team. It’s another very welcome feature on what is a great site!

  • Wayman Britt

    Nik has had a great season so far, but in my opinion the player of the year in the Big Ten is Gary Harris. He is amazing. He has the whole package. If I was a NBA GM I would take Gary over Nik. Again nothing against Nik.

    • ChocoJoe

      I was telling a friend the same thing today.

    • UMHoopsFan

      I don’t necessarily disagree, but Nik is having a better offensive year than Harris — shooting better, a lot more assists, fewer TOs. Harris played lights out vs UM and still had half as many assists and a TS% 9 points lower than Nik’s and isn’t the offensive engine Nik is. Defense is a harder thing to quantify, and I don’t know if Harris has had as much an impact all year as he did against UM. Nik has an excellent case for B1G POY at this juncture.
      And B1G POY is different than NBA draft status. As for the latter, sometimes the “full package” isn’t as valuable as doing one or two things really well. There are a lot of great all around 2s and 3s who haven’t played in the NBA as long as some great shooters. Harris may be a great pro, but he also may be a slightly undersized two who’s not quite great at anything, whereas Nik might be an elite shooter/offensive player who can improve his D enough not to be a liability.
      All that being said, I think Harris is a great talent and having a great year. I think he’s a no-brainer 1st team B1G player, perhaps the POY, and a lottery pick.

  • jemblue

    Typo: in the Northwestern write-up, it should say “worst” and not “worse.”

  • ChocoJoe

    Nice article!