So..this was originally meant to be a weekly post like the football power poll. Obviously that hasn't happened. I guess that's what happens when real life takes over, and your basketball team doesn't exactly spur creative expression.
Anyways, in case you have forgotten the deal, I vote weekly in a Big Ten Basketball Power Poll for Talkin10.com along with several other Big Ten bloggers. Our votes are cast on Sunday night...meaning the votes you will see below will not take into any consideration last nights games....which at least this week in the Big Ten there were none. I will give you my votes, and then put in at the bottom how the compilation of the voters ranked the teams in each spot. If you want to see the full poll, it can be linked to at Talking10.com here.
So onto the rankings:
#1 Wisconsin Badgers (18-2 (6-1))
Even thought Wisconsin's one Big Ten loss is inexplicably to Rutgers, all be it without Frank Kaminsky, the Badgers are still the cream of the Big Ten crop. Bo Ryan has this team playing well enough to win the Big Ten, and maybe get back to the Final Four again. They have some injury issues with Traevon Jackson still missing time (which may actually be a positive) but Josh Gasser and Sam Dekker have really stepped up and continue to lead Wisconsin forward. Wisconsin will be tested their next two games as they go to Iowa City on Saturday before hosting Indiana.
#2 Ohio State Buckeyes (16-5 (5-3))
The Buckeyes had dropped off significantly after losing to Indiana and Iowa, but in what shows just how wishy-washy the middle of the Big Ten pack is this season, they shot back up after a big revenge win over the Hoosiers. D'Angelo Russell is playing some great basketball right now, and Thad Motta has this team ready to make a run. But once again they can also lay duds as shown by a very tight game against Northwestern. They have a big home game Thursday against Maryland which will let us see better if the Buckeyes are for real or not.
#3 Maryland Terrapins (18-3 (6-2))
Maryland drops this week to #3, and are on the verge of sliding further. They have struggled as of late, losing to Illinois last week, and then barely beating Northwestern. Melo Trimble is in a dogfight with D'Angelo Russell of Ohio State for Big Ten Freshman of the Year but he can have poor games as we saw against the Illini. They get to go to Columbus Thursday night that will most likely determine who is ranked #2 here next week.
#3 Overall--Ohio State
#4 Indiana Hoosiers (15-5 (5-2))
The Hoosiers have to be the surprise of the Big Ten so far this season. After losing at home earlier in the season to Eastern Washington, the Hoosiers have played determined basketball in the Big Ten schedule. They won big over Maryland last week, and are really getting great play from Yogi Ferrell. They dropped their last game to Ohio State in Columbus, which isn't a big deal and have two must wins with Purdue and Rutgers this week before their trip to Madison.
#5 Iowa Hawkeyes (13-7 (4-3))
And this is where the Big Ten gets really squishy. Iowa is 5th this week, but I don't think anyone thinks they may be by the end of the season. Iowa has lost two ugly games in a row including getting run out of the Kohl Center, and then dropping a tough one at Purdue. They could free-fall even further with their next three games being brutal in hosting Wisconsin, going to Ann Arbor and then hosting Maryland before the Gophers head south to Iowa City. Expect maximum Frantrums.
#6 Michigan Wolverines (12-8 (5-3)
I may have Michigan way too high here, and frankly with the injury to Levert, this is probably as high as they will go the rest of the season. But they played Wisconsin extremely tough in taking them to OT last Saturday. They have a must win at home against Nebraska this week before the schedule gets really tough again with games at Michigan State, home against Iowa, and at Indiana.
#6 Overall Michigan State
#7 Nebraska Cornhuskers (12-7 (4-3))
Again..some may say I have the Huskers high here, but with wins in four of their last five, and the only loss coming to Wisconsin, they seem to be figuring things out. Granted the wins were over Rutgers, MN, MSU and Illinois, but still this year in the Big Ten that will get you points. They have four more winnable games in a row going to Michigan and Minnesota before hosting Northwestern and going to Penn State. They go 3-1 or 4-0 in that stretch, and Tim Miles magic may be back.
#8 Michigan State Spartans (13-7 (4-3))
This definitely has not been Tom Izzo's most impressive team in East Lansing. The Spartans have lost several games they need to win including a tough one at Nebraska just last week. They also have big wins at Iowa and against Indiana, so the talent and potential is there. Consistency will be key down the stretch if they want to make the dance, and a stretch of four very winnable games against Michigan, Rutgers, Illinois and Northwestern will determine a lot.
#9 Purdue Boilermakers (12-8 (4-3))
Purdue is one of those teams that just keeps hanging around. They aren't going to go to the dance, but they can sure spoil some team's season. They tried to start Iowa on the tailspin with a big home win over them last week, and will try and do the same against Indiana Wednesday.
#10 Minnesota Gophers (13-8 (2-6))
This is where the bottom starts. The Gophers are trying to claw their way out of the bottom and get to Purdue levels, and it started with their win over Illinois Saturday. They just can;t seem to finish games out, and until they do, this may be their ceiling. The good news is that Andre Hollins finally seems to realize the season has started, and if he can stay hot, that will make a huge difference. If the Gophers really want to show they have changed then going 4-0 against Penn State, Nebraska, Purdue and Iowa before a trip to Indiana is a must.
#11 Illinois Fighting Illini (13-8 (3-5))
Illinois is a team on the backslide. Injuries have really ruined them, so much that they had to promote a student manager to the team last weekend. Woof. They couldn't beat a lackluster Gopher team, and now need to sweep Penn State and Rutgers this week before a five game stretch where they see Michigan State twice with Michigan and Wisconsin in the middle, and Iowa at the end. Oy.
#12 Northwestern Wildcats (10-10 (1-6)
The record may not show it, but this is a tough Wildcat team. They have lost six Big Ten games in a row, but their last five only by a combined margin of 17 points. They have almost upset Ohio State and Maryland their last two games and will relish being able to be a giant killer down the stretch.
#13 Penn State Nittany Lions (13-7 (1-6)
Penn State is another one of those teams who plays teams a lot closer then their record seems to show. They took Michigan State and Indiana to the wire, and gave Wisconsin a good game. Unfortunately for them after hosting Minnesota Wednesday, things get ugly on their schedule in a hurry.
#13 Overall--Penn State
#14 Rutgers Scarlet Knights (10-11 (2-6)
Rutgers....is not good. Somehow Wisconsin lost to them, which makes no sense at all. Even shorthanded the Badgers are not that bad. Looking ahead on their schedule, unless they win another weird upset, they won't have a chance to win again for a few weeks until Purdue comes to town.
So there you have it. I have a few differences with the rest of the group, but nothing drastic. Frankly the Big Ten just is not impressive this season. Wisconsin and Maryland are locks for the NCAAs, but there are about 6 other teams that could make it. But frankly I only see about three of those going. Its going to be an interesting February as the teams jockey for seeding in the Big Ten Tournament...which frankly could be a lot of fun to watch as there are upset possibilities galore. Only time will tell.
Comment and tell me where you think I am right, wrong, or just stupid.