February 17, 2009

Big Ten Hoops Power Rankings

It's hard to believe how much of the Big Ten Conference season has dwindled down, but that doesn't mean that the overall forecast of the conference is clearer then it was before action began. With the top six teams in the Big Ten separated by just three games, BuckeyeGrove.com will break down the conference with weekly power rankings.

1. Michigan State, (20-4,10-2) - The Spartans only played one game this week, but it went in similar fashion. With a match against in-state rival Michigan as the only hurdle the Spartans needed to clear this week, Michigan State held Michigan to just 15 points in the first half en route to a 54-42 win. With the win, the Spartans stayed in control of the Big Ten, sitting in first place 1.5 games ahead of Illinois. Michigan State has done what it has to in order to stay success, and that's win on the road. Thus far this season, the Spartans are a perfect 7-0 away from East Lansing and are currently ranked No. 6 in the nation.
Last week: No. 1
Last five: 4-1
Upcoming games: At Purdue 2/17, Wisconsin 2/22

2. Illinois, (21-5, 9-4) - Illinois was able to jump up in the power rankings with victories in both of their games this week, including a 1-point squeaker over Northwestern and a 13-point handling of Indiana. With the two conference wins, the Illini broke out of the second place tie with Ohio State in the Big Ten and now enjoy the slot all alone. Illinois's week was just three seconds away from going south, however, as the Illini used a go-ahead jumper from Demetri McCamey with 2.9 seconds left to knock off the Wildcats. Northwestern was in command, but Illinois used a 17-2 run in the last five minutes of the game to come out on top in a much-needed conference victory.
Last week: No. 3
Last five: 4-1
Upcoming games: Penn State 2/18, at Ohio State 2/22

3. Purdue, (19-6, 8-4) - After a bad stretch of games a few weeks ago in which Purdue dropped two in a row to Ohio State and Illinois, the Boilermakers got back on track this week. With wins over Penn State and Iowa this week, Purdue climbed back up into third place in the Big Ten. The Boilermakers also got back Robbie Hummel, who had missed three games with a hairline fracture in his lower back.
Last week: No. 4
Last five: 3-2
Upcoming games: Michigan State 2/17, Indiana 2/21

4. Ohio State, (17-6, 7-5) - Having previously won four games in a row, the Buckeyes had a chance to make a statement with a game against Wisconsin in Madison. The Buckeyes, however, turned the ball over quite a bit and showed some weakness in terms of rebounding before eventually falling to the Badgers, 55-50. The Buckeyes fell from second in the Big Ten to fourth with the loss, thus losing much-needed momentum as the season comes to a close.
Last week: No. 2
Last five: 4-1
Upcoming games: At Northwestern 2/18, Illinois 2/22

5. Wisconsin, (16-9, 7-6) - Wisconsin was once thought to be a lost cause in the Big Ten after enduring a 6-game conference losing streak. That notion turned out to be completely wrong, especially after the Badgers topped Ohio State and Iowa this week to extend its winning streak to four games. Instead of dwelling in the conference cellar, Wisconsin now sits in a 3-way tie for fifth place in the Big Ten with Penn State and Minnesota. It doesn't seem as if the Badgers will be an NCAA Tournament afterthought, especially if they continue playing they way they are.
Last week: No. 8
Last five: 4-1
Upcoming games: At Indiana 2/19, at Michigan State 2/22

6. Penn State, (18-8, 7-6) - Penn State stormed onto the scene a few weeks ago with a four-game conference winning streak, including a victory over Big Ten power Michigan State. The Nittany Lions, however, were brought back down to reality with a three game losing streak, and entering the week Penn State resided in the middle of the Big Ten pack. Penn State didn't do much to go up or down this week, posting a 1-1 record. The Nittany Lions did cap the week off with a win over Minnesota, which is good for conference positioning.
Last week: No. 5
Last five: 2-3
Upcoming games: At Illinois 2/18, at Ohio State 2/24

7. Minnesota, (19-6, 7-6) - It may be kind of surprising to see Minnesota down this far in the power rankings, but the Gophers haven't exactly lived up to their 4-1 start in Big Ten action. Since the fast start that had the Gophers atop the Big Ten, Minnesota has gone 3-5 in their last eight and have fallen to a 3-way tie for fifth in the conference. Minnesota lost some ground to cap off their week with a loss to Penn State, who drew even with the Gophers.
Last week: No. 7
Last five: 2-3
Upcoming games: At Michigan 2/19, Northwestern 2/22

8. Michigan, (16-10, 6-7) - Michigan looked to be a big threat in the Big Ten after non-conference upsets of UCLA and Duke in addition to a 3-1 start in conference action. Since the quick Big Ten start, however, Michigan has gone 3-7 in conference action and has fallen down the ranks. Michigan did get a much-needed win over Northwestern in overtime to close the week, but they are still No. 8 in the Big Ten, which is far from impressive in comparison to expectations.
Last week: No. 6
Last five: 2-3
Upcoming games: Minnesota 2/19, Iowa 2/22

9. Iowa, (13-13, 3-10) - Iowa wasn't necessarily predicted to set the world on fire in terms of performance in the Big Ten, but sitting in the conference cellar wasn't expected either. Iowa got off on the wrong foot after losing its Big Ten opener to Ohio State, and have endured losing streaks of three and four games in the conference. Though Iowa dropped both games this week, the ended up moving up in the rankings due to bad performances by teams in the bottom of the conference.
Last week: No. 10
Last five: 1-4
Upcoming games: Michigan 2/22, at Michigan State 2/25

10. Northwestern, (13-10, 4-8) - Northwestern never really got a shot to compete for a Big Ten title this season after starting off conference play with an 0-4 record. The Wildcats did show a glimmer of what they are capable with after knocking off Michigan State to give the Spartans one of their two conference blemishes, but Northwestern hasn't been able to put together a run in conference action. The Wildcats have lost their last three games in conference play.
Last week: No. 9
Last five: 2-3
Upcoming games: Ohio State 2/18, at Minnesota 2/22

11. Indiana, (6-16, 1-9) - After off the court issues last season and losing a bundle of talent to the NBA, this was surely going to be a rebuilding year for Indiana. Under new head coach Tom Crean, Indiana has the youngest team in the Big Ten, and it showed this season. Indiana lost its first eight Big Ten games, many in dominant fashion, and have been and will remain in the cellar of the conference. They did get their first win in conference play on Feb. 4 over Iowa, but three consecutive losses have landed Indiana with 18 losses in one season for the first time in program history.
Last week: No. 11
Last five: 1-4
Upcoming games: Wisconsin 2/19, at Purdue 2/21

Ari Wasserman is a staff writer for BuckeyeGrove.com. He can be reached at AriWasserman@gmail.com.

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