Vitals: 8-2 on the season; losses to Wichita State and Virginia Tech; 54th to Kenpom
The Hawkeyes are on somewhat of an upswing in basketball these last couple years. After bottoming out under Tom Lickliter, Iowa has seen some positive momentum build under Fran McCaffery who led the Hawkeyes to an 18-17 record a year ago. Iowa bolstered that success with a top-30 recruiting class in 2012 that included top-50 center Adam Woodbury. The Hawkeyes don't have many chances to make waves until the conference season starts, but will be faced with Indiana, Michigan, and Michigan State in the first three conference games. If the Hawkeyes can come out of that stretch with a win it would bode well for the team's chances of making the NCAA tourney.
That January 6th meeting with Michigan will be the only matchup the teams see this season.
Vitals: 6-4 on the season; losses to Florida, Creighton, Virginia, and Marquette; 11th to Kenpom
On its face Wisconsin's record looks pretty bad, but there are few teams in the Big Ten that have faced a tougher schedule this year. All four of the Badgers' losses have come against teams in Kenpom's top-40, including the number two Florida Gators. Naturally, the Badgers are one of the slowest teams in the nation (331st in Adj Tempo) and they will be a maddening foe that Michigan will thankfully see just once.
That game is on February 9th, and will be in Ann Arbor (thank god).
Vitals: 4-5 on the season; lost to Eastern Michigan (yes, you read that right); 50th to Kenpom
Kenpom is bullish on the Boilermakers. I am not. Purdue has now fallen under .500 on the season thanks to a loss to Eastern Michigan and with an upcoming game against Notre Dame on the docket it seems likely the Boilermakers will stumble into the Big Ten season .500 at best. With games against Illinois, Michigan State, and Ohio State to open the conference season, things could get uglier from there. Robbie Hummel, where have you gone?
Michigan faces Purdue January 24th and March 6th.
Vitals: 7-3 on the season; losses to Maryland, Butler, and Ill. Chicago; 83rd to Kenpom
Northwestern Basketball, you just lost one of the best players in program history, who still couldn't get you over the hump to the NCAA tournament. What are you going to do?
The Wildcats haven't been bad so far, getting to seven wins, but against some of the better teams on the schedule Northwestern hasn't been able to hang tough. With a game left against Stanford Northwestern has one more chance to get a solid non-conference win, but the conference season opens against Michigan then Minnesota, so it could be a rocky start.
Michigan plays Northwestern on the 3rd of January as well as the 30th of the same month.
Vitals: 5-4 on the year; best win: Bucknell; 162nd to Kenpom
The Nittany Lions have had an up and down year so far. Literally. Every win has been followed by a loss, which has then been followed by another win (and a loss). Penn State lost big to NC State, but pulled a win over Bucknell (more than Purdue can say). Of course any optimism that may have been there for the rest of the season snapped about the same time that Tim Frazier's Achilles tendon did. That shifts the offensive burden to guards DJ Newbill and Jermaine Marshall.
Michigan will only get one game against Penn State on February 17th.
Vitals: 6-2 on the season, losses to Creighton and Kent State; 198th to Kenpom
The newest addition to the Big Ten has struggled thus far in the transition from a football conference to a basketball conference (/weeps uncontrollably). Nebraska ended up 12-18 last year and won just four conference games. This year things have started about the same, but even with six wins already, Nebraska is the lowest rated team to Kenpom. Odds are this is going to be another rough season for the Huskers.
Naturally, Michigan will only see Nebraska once, on January 9th.