Welcome to our Big Ten Power Rankings where we examine the conference on a weekly basis and attempt to rank the conference and provide some insight about each team.
1. Iowa (8-1)
Iowa’s perfect record was finally blemished at Maryland, but the Hawkeyes are still in the driver’s seat in the conference race. 20 points per game over Iowa’s last six and has made 51% of his triples in that period. Coming off of a 26 point performance against Northwestern, Jok is suddenly in the conversion for All-Big Ten first team.
2. Maryland (8-2)
Robert Carter Jr. has mastered the 6 to 10 foot jump shot. He’s shooting 64% on those shots and 30% of his field goal attempts fall in that in-between area. That sort of old school interior game has provided a boost for Maryland’s front line as Carter has emerged as one of the more versatile interior players in the league.
3. Indiana (8-1)
The Hoosiers are 8-1 in the conference, but have played the league’s weakest schedule. On Tuesday they’ll head to Michigan (7-2) to face the team that’s played the league’s second-weakest schedule. Both teams will be hungry to prove that their record means more than their schedule as Tom Crean looks for his fifth win in his last six games against Michigan.
4. Purdue (7-3)
Purdue is 7-3, but hasn’t played Indiana, Michigan State or Maryland. The Boilermakers’ last five wins were against Nebraska, Minnesota, Ohio State, Rutgers and Penn State — not really much in the way of excitement. With just one bad loss on the resume — at Illinois — Purdue still feels like a team in the thick of the conference race. Matt Painter has a week to prepare his group for a trip to College Park and six of his team’s last 8 games are against top-50 opponents (adjusted for home/away) according to KenPom.
5. Michigan (7-2)
Michigan’s season thus far is somewhat reminiscent of its 2012 Big Ten run. The Wolverines have struggled on the road against the conference’s better teams and doesn’t boast an incredible efficiency margin, but continues to remain in the conference race in the win-loss column. That team shared the Big Ten crown despite only outscoring its opponents by .06 points per possession and if this Michigan team wants to remain in the race it’ll have to defend home court this week against Indiana and Michigan State.
6. Michigan State (6-4)
Life is good when the shots are falling. Michigan State shot 56% on threes this week, making 33 of 58 attempts, blowing out Northwestern and Rutgers. Here’s a comparison of the Spartans’ hot-shooting week to their previous Big Ten action. The left corner had been a weak spot for Tom Izzo’s team, but those shots started falling.
That’s the sort of offensive barrage that can allow you to forget about a three-game losing streak in a hurry. Now the Spartans have a week to rest and recover and prepare for their lone game against Michigan this Saturday in Ann Arbor.
7. Wisconsin (5-4)
Wisconsin has won four games in a row and they’ve made them count with home victories over Michigan State and Indiana and respectable road wins at Penn State and Illinois. The reason for Wisconsin’s turnaround is the reason that it struggled often this season: Nigel Hayes. Hayes has improved his play and the results have followed. He’s still not the most efficient shooter, but he gets to the free throw line more often than anyone in the conference.
8. Nebraska (4-5)
Nebraska’s defense continues to hold it back — the Huskers have allowed 241 points points in their last 199 possessions (1.21 PPP) — but there’s no doubt that Tim Miles found a special talent in Andrew White III. The Kansas transfer has been one of the best newcomers in the Big Ten and is the third-best shooter in the conference according to Shot Analytics — trailing Duncan Robinson and Bryn Forbes.
9. Ohio State (6-4)
JaQuan Lyle has shown the ability to be explosive, but at this point in the freshman’s career he’s not efficient. Thad Matta recently moved Lyle to the bench for freshman point guard AJ Harris and Lyle is one of the least-efficient shooters in the conference according to Shot Analytics.
10. Northwestern (3-7)
The season that many thought could be the season that the Wildcats finally make the NCAA tournament is quickly turning into just another season of Northwestern basketball. The Wildcats have lost five games in a row and are just 3-7 in Big Ten play and their best win this season is at home against Wisconsin.
One disappointment for the Wildcats has been the play of senior guard Tre Demps. He’s always been a volume shooter rather than an efficient scorer, but his shooting numbers have regressed this season. Demps shot 43% on threes in Big Ten play last season and is hitting at just a 24% clip through nine games this season even after his monster 31 point night against Iowa.
11. Illinois (2-7)
The injuries just keep piling up for John Groce as now Michael Finke and Kendrick Nunn are on the injured list and Finke will undergo an MRI. Despite another narrow loss against Wisconsin, the injuries are turning into too much for John Groce’s team to overcome.
12. Penn State (2-7)
It was something of a raw deal that Penn State had to play a home game at Madison Square Garden, but the idea worked. In all honesty the atmosphere in the Garden probably topped what would have occurred in the Bryce Jordan Center as the Nittany Lions bussed in several sections worth of fans and the announced attendance was 12,108.
13. Minnesota (0-10)
Minnesota is getting closer to a win with a 5 point loss at Michigan, a 5 point overtime loss to Illinois, a 4 point home loss to Purdue and a 6 point road loss at Indiana. But the Gophers just haven’t been able to close out games and sit at 0-10 over halfway through the season.
14. Rutgers (0-9)
After a surprisingly close 11 point loss to Michigan, Rutgers went out and lost by 34 at Michigan State. It’s just more of the same for Rutgers, which now has an 11.9% chance of losing every conference game according to KenPom.