Sponsored By Big Ten Network
by Brent Yarina
It’s time to release my latest Big Ten men’s hoops power rankings. The rankings are not meant to mimic the Big Ten standings. What fun would that be? They aren’t scientific, either. They’re simply my thoughts on where each Big Ten team stands right now and who would win on a neutral court.
1. Michigan State (20-5, 9-3) – How impressive was Michigan State’s 58-48 win at Ohio State on Saturday? Entering the contest, the Buckeyes had won their first six Big Ten home games by an average of 20 points and averaged 77.8 points.
Last time: No. 2
This week: vs. Wisconsin (2/16), at Purdue (2/19)
- 2. Ohio State (21-4, 9-3) – It’s hard to find many holes in Ohio State’s game, but if you’re forced to pick one, it’s 3-point shooting. The Buckeyes average a Big Ten-worst 4.9 treys per game.
Last time: No. 1
This week: at Minnesota (2/14), at Michigan (2/18)
3. Michigan (19-7, 9-4) – Welcome back, Evan Smotrycz. Coming off single-digit performances in 11 of the last 12 games, the sophomore broke out for a Big Ten-high 13 points, in addition to a career-high four steals, Sunday.
Last time: No. 4
This week: vs. Ohio State (2/18)
4. Wisconsin (19-6, 8-4) – A win’s a win, they say. Wisconsin hasn’t made it look pretty this season, but it continues to get it done — even away from the Kohl Center, where it is 5-1 in Big Ten.
Last time: No. 3
This week: at Michigan State (2/16), vs. Penn State (2/19)
5. Indiana (19-6, 7-6) – All of the sudden, things appear to be clicking again for the Hoosiers. With Verdell Jones out nursing a sore shoulder the past two-plus games, Jordan Hulls has done a masterful job leading the attack.
Last time: No. 5
This week: vs. Northwestern (2/15), at Iowa (2/19)
6. Purdue (16-9, 6-6) – This is not a typo: D.J. Byrd is averaging 17.8 points the last four games. The junior has found his stroke, hitting 15 of 28 treys in the span, but he needs to avoid foul trouble to stay on the floor.
Last time: No. 7
This week: at Illinois (2/15), vs. Michigan State (2/19)
7. Minnesota (17-8, 5-7) – In a league where several teams rely on supremely thin rotations, it’s not rare for Tubby Smith to give nine or 10 guys at least 10 minutes. That depth, coupled with length and athleticism, could pose problems late in the season.
Last time: T-No. 8
This week: vs. Ohio State (2/14), at Northwestern (2/18)
8. Northwestern (15-9, 5-7) – The Wildcats have been searching for a consistent third scorer to go along with John Shurna and Drew Crawford. Dave Sobolewski may be that guy. The freshman point guard is averaging 16 points the last four games.
Last time: T-No. 8
This week: at Indiana Iowa (2/15), vs. Minnesota (2/18)
T-9. Illinois (16-9, 5-7) – How bad are things in Champaign? The Illini have lost six of their last seven, putting their NCAA tourney hopes in serious jeopardy. The good news: The one win during the funk was against Michigan State.
Last time: No. 6
This week: vs. Purdue (2/15), at Nebraska (2/18)
T-9. Iowa (13-12, 5-7) – Aaron White’s last two performances (17 pts, 9 rebs, 4 asts, 2 stls, 3 blks vs. PSU; 17 pts, 12 rebs at NU) have stud written all over them. The freshman needs to start receiving Cody Zeller-Trey Burke-like attention.
Last time: T-No. 8
This week: at Penn State (2/16), vs. Indiana (2/19)
11. Penn State (11-15, 3-10) – Tim Frazier’s job just got harder, this after Billy Oliver announced he has ended his career due to recurring concussion-related symptoms. Oliver shot 34 percent from distance, so Frazier loses a guy who can stretch the floor.
Last time: No. 12
This week: vs. Iowa (2/16), at Wisconsin (2/19)
12. Nebraska (11-13, 3-10) – Brandon Ubel, the Big Ten’s leader in offensive rebounds, is 0-for-2 against Penn State. In two games, the junior has zero offensive rebounds. Ubel averages 2.8 offensive boards against the rest of the Big Ten.
Last time: No. 11
This week: vs. Illinois (2/18)