Friday, January 25, 2013

Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings - Conference Season #3

After all the love I gave to Wisconsin last week, they go and lose both their games this week.  Yes, I took that personally, stupid Badgers.  Things are continuing to heat up in the conference, and the teams many projected to be at the top in the preseason now are.  That's not too exciting, so here's hoping for a lot of shakeup after a crazy week (but I doubt it).

On to the rankings, where I realize listing the RPI ranking is strange when they seem to barely move no matter what happens that week.

All smiles
1.   Michigan (18-1, 5-1, RPI: 7) [Last week's rank: 2]

After a horrible first half, Michigan was able to put their game together and beat Purdue in Ann Arbor.  That wasn't overly impressive, since they didn't cover the spread, but a win's a win, and no one else was impressive enough to take leapfrog the Wolverines in the rankings.  This week they have a bit of a "break" facing Illinois and Northwestern, before a torrid four-game stretch in early February.

2.   Indiana (17-2, 5-1, RPI: 15) [Last week's rank: 3]

The Hoosiers also didn't do anything particularly wrong this week, beating Northwestern and Penn State, as they should.  They host Michigan State this weekend, which will determine the real #2 in the conference, which they still should win, and then they head to West Lafayette to get upset by the Boilermakers.  Hey, positive mental attitude people!

3.   Michigan State (17-3, 6-1, RPI: 13) [Last week's rank: 6]

As much I despise this Spartan team, they are getting stronger as the season progresses.  I previously ripped them for not having won any hard games, but now with narrow wins against Ohio State and at Wisconsin, they are better than I thought.  I still don't think this team has enough to win the conference, when compared to Michigan and IU, but we'll see if they can upset the Hoosiers at home this weekend and happily prove me wrong.

4.   Ohio State (14-4, 4-2, RPI: 26) [Last week's rank: 4]

After beating Iowa and losing at Michigan State, I'm leaving the Buckeyes at #4 partly because I think they have more talent than Wisconsin, and partly because I expect them to rattle off three straight wins against Penn State, Wisconsin (at home), and Nebraska.  I was really rooting for them to beat MSU, which just tells you how much I dislike the Spartans this year.

5.   Wisconsin (13-6, 4-2, RPI: 58) [Last week's rank: 1]

We don't need no stinking Badgers.  In two close games (aren't all their games close, playing that style?), Wisconsin lost at Iowa and at home against Michigan State.  Both were moderate surprises, but combined they mean Wiscy is in bad shape and has lost all the air of superiority they gained the previous week.  And now they get to face Minnesota and travel to Ohio State this week.  That could be four straight losses and cause Bo to bite the head of a live bat or assistant coach (yes, this is going to be a running gag with Bo).

6.   Minnesota (15-4, 3-3, RPI: 10) [Last week's rank: 5]

What is wrong with the Gophers?  Three straight losses, and while two were somewhat expected (at IU and vs. Michigan), losing at Northwestern certainly wasn't.  The freefall could continue at Wisconsin this weekend.

7.   Iowa (13-6, 2-4, RPI: 76) [Last week's rank: 8]

Iowa had an impressive victory over Wisconsin before losing to Ohio State.  I moved them ahead of Purdue because they've beaten a better team (Wisconsin) than Purdue has, and all their conference losses are against the top 4 teams.  They'll give the Boilers all they can handle this weekend in the battle for leader of the bottom half of the Big Ten.  Unlike the Boilers, they have an outside shot at making the NCAA Tournament, and expect them to play like a team on a mission.

8.  Purdue (10-9, 3-3, RPI: 121) [Last week's rank: 7]

The Boilers get major non-con cred for demolishing West Virginia, and they played the first half against Michigan like a team that had really turned a corner.  Then they got overpowered and the young/inconsistent Purdue team showed up to blow the game.  They still have the ability to give any conference team a run for their money, but getting a marquee win is going to be difficult for them on the road.  At home, though, it's possible.

9.  Northwestern (12-8, 3-4, RPI: 82) [Last week's rank: 9]

Beating Minnesota is pretty great for the Wildcats, but with the Gophers sliding big time, it may not be as impressive as at first glance.  Don't expect many more "major" upsets from Northwestern, but they should be in any game against the middle and bottom of the conference.

10.   Illinois (15-5, 2-4, RPI: 28) [Last week's rank: 10]

The Illini beat Nebraska for a light week, but look at who they face next: Michigan, MSU, Wisconsin, Indiana, Minnesota.  It's going to be pretty funny when they are 2-9 or 3-8 in the conference, and I'll be able to hear the crying fans all the way in Indianapolis.

11.  Nebraska (10-10, 1-6, RPI: 79) [Last week's rank: 12 tie]

Congratulations to the Huskers for beating Penn State on the road to show people that they aren't the worst. Maybe they can upset Northwestern this weekend and make it a productive season.  It wouldn't surprise me to see the Nebraska program really develop from crappy to mediocre now that they have the prestige of being in the best basketball conference in the nation.

12.  Penn State (8-11, 0-7, RPI: 184) [Last week's rank: 12 tie]

After losing the cellar-dweller battle to Nebraska last weekend, the Nittany Lions also got crushed by IU.  Will they win another game this season?  Don't bet on it.

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