clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings: Michigan falls to our worst team in the conference

The facts are undeniable at this point.

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Daniel Plocher Dan Plocher contributes to Maize n’ Brew in several areas including podcasts, game previews/recaps, and various YouTube videos.

It’s great to be a Michigan Wolverine if you’re still coming off the high of the National Championship for football (which I’m sure most fans will be for quite some time). But if you’re paying attention to the basketball team, it has been an absolute slog of a season, as we are just beyond the midway point.

Let’s dig into that and the rest of the rankings for an important week in the Big Ten.

14. Michigan Wolverines (Last Week: No. 13)

Record: 7-11 overall, 2-5 B1G

Michigan was down by just one point at home against the No. 14-ranked Fighting Illini on Thursday of last week. All of a sudden, Illinois went on a 20-6 run midway through the second half and Michigan lost by 15 points in a game they had every right to be in.

The Wolverines now have the second-worst defense in the Big Ten, allowing 77.6 points a game, and have allowed the second-most three-pointers, which contributes to massive issues they are having on that end of the court.

This week is maybe their toughest of the season as they go to No. 2 Purdue, have a home match against Iowa, and then head to Michigan State early next week. There’s a legit chance this team goes 0-3 to end the month, as two of those contests will be played without point guard Dug McDaniel.

13. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (Last Week: No. 12)

Record: 10-8 overall, 2-5 B1G

Rutgers host Purdue and Penn State this week as the Scarlet Knights try to stay hot at home. I just don’t think they have much of a chance against Purdue, but they did pull off an upset against the Boilermakers in West Lafayette a season ago with a similar squad.

Matching up Clifford Omoruyi and Zach Edey will be one to watch in that contest, and then the Scarlet Knights better hope their guard play improves offensively to keep up with Penn State’s scorers or they could drop two contests this week in Piscataway.

12. Penn State Nittany Lions (Last Week: No. 14)

Record: 9-10 overall, 3-5 B1G

A win over the Wisconsin Badgers at home propels this team up two spots in my rankings. It was the first Big Ten loss of the season for Greg Gard and his team and Penn State went toe-for-toe with them throughout the whole game.

Guards Kanye Clary and Ace Baldwin Jr. are capable of keeping this team competing with the best in the conference if they can put up performances like they did against the Badgers. The two combined for 47 of the Nittany Lions’ 87 points and were 18-31 from the field.

11. Minnesota Golden Gophers (Last Week: No. 11)

Record: 12-6 overall, 3-4 B1G

Minnesota is such a meh team. They’re 12-6 but don’t really have any major standout wins, though to be fair, they don’t have any really bad losses either. They’re dangerously close to dropping into my bottom three after losing three straight games.

Now, the Golden Gophers have the second-most turnovers per game in the Big Ten and I just don’t trust that they are going to be able to compete in the conference through the remainder of the season.

10. Maryland Terrapins (Last Week: No. 9)

Record: 11-8 overall, 3-5 B1G

It was maybe a bit of an overreaction to move Maryland as high as I did last week following the road win over Illinois. It feels like this team is really close to making a run though, and arguably they could have already.

The Terps’ last three losses against Michigan State, at Northwestern, and at Minnesota were by a combined eight points, and all were a one-possession game in the end. They were a streaking team last season, and maybe they have it in them to rip out a few W’s and position themselves for the tournament.

9. Indiana Hoosiers (Last Week: No. 6)

Record: 12-7 overall, 4-4 B1G

In its most important week of the season, Indiana flopped dropping games to Purdue and Wisconsin, showing it is not in the upper echelon of the conference.

It’s already an ugly stretch after going 2-4 in the last six and matchups with Illinois and Iowa are upcoming. There is a chance what is already ugly could get much worse for the Hoosiers.

8. Ohio State Buckeyes (Last Week: No. 10)

Record: 13-5 overall, 3-4 B1G

Ohio State snapped its losing streak with a 12-point win over Penn State at home, but that doesn’t move the needle very much for me with road contests against Nebraska and Northwestern on the docket before hosting No. 10 Illinois to wrap up January.

Depending on how these games go, the Buckeyes could propel all the way into the top five, or drop back to 10th or below. This is a really important stretch for a team with NCAA Tournament aspirations.

7. Northwestern Wildcats (Last Week: No. 7)

Record: 13-5 overall, 4-3 B1G

Northwestern’s last two wins are by a combined seven points — at Penn State and a home game over Maryland. Their last two losses have both been on the road, but the Wildcats return home this week against Illinois and Ohio State.

The defense has the worst opposing three-point percentage this season in the conference at 35.8 percent. Even so, they’re 13-5 and are just outside of the top-five defenses in the conference. It could be an outlier, but maybe Northwestern earns a few more wins if teams are not as hot from deep.

6. Nebraska Cornhuskers (Last Week: No. 8)

Record: 14-5 overall, 4-4 B1G

Nebraska wrapped up its upset win over Purdue with consecutive road losses to Iowa and the lowly Rutgers Scarlet Knights. But, the Huskers got back on track back in Lincoln with a win over Northwestern.

A big game with Ohio State awaits on Tuesday night as both sit firmly on the bubble of most NCAA Tournament brackets at this point. The Huskers live and die by the three ball with more attempts per game than anyone else in the conference. Keisei Tominaga is shooting 38.1 percent from deep and they’ll need him to continue to be that good to be dancing in March.

5. Michigan State (Last Week: No. 5)

Record: 12-7 overall, 4-4 B1G

Tom Izzo’s squad is playing their best basketball of the season after blowing out Rutgers and Minnesota at home and then beating Maryland on the road.

For this team to be fully back in contention for a top spot in the conference, it’ll need an upset win over Wisconsin in Madison. The Badgers haven’t lost at the Kohl Center this season, but this will be the second best team to come to Madison this season (Wisconsin beat rival Marquette early in the year).

The Badgers won the first game of this series 70-57 in East Lansing, but Michigan State is 8-3 since then. This will hopefully be the best game of the week in the conference.

4. Iowa Hawkeyes (Last Week: No. 4)

Record: 11-7 overall, 3-4 B1G

Sure, they have seven losses and four in the Big Ten, but the Hawkeyes have had a ridiculous schedule so far. The only game they have dropped to a team outside of the top-25 was to Michigan at home a couple of weeks ago.

Iowa’s hitting an upcoming stride of seven games against teams that are not ranked, and I think it has a shot to rack up quite a few wins and confirm my thoughts that it is this good. Or, maybe it can’t close and fall off a cliff in my rankings. But I like the way Iowa is constructed and I think Fran McCaffery is one of the conference’s brightest minds.

3. Wisconsin Badgers (Last Week: No. 2)

Record: 14-4 overall, 6-1 B1G

After slipping to Penn State in Happy Valley, the Badgers fall one spot in my rankings. Still, I think this might be the best team Greg Gard has had in the last few years thanks to the rise of transfer AJ Storr along with forwards Steven Crowl and Tyler Wohl.

The Badgers have some tough games ahead at Minnesota, home against the Spartans, then back on the road against Nebraska, before welcoming Purdue to Madison. It will be an interesting couple of weeks for Wisconsin, who has not slipped up in awhile.

2. Illinois Fighting Illini (Last Week: No. 3)

Record: 14-4 overall, 5-2 B1G

The most important thing that could have happened for the Fighting Illini did, whether it’s deserved or not. Terrance Shannon Jr. is back on the court for Illinois and he is very likely the best scorer in the Big Ten.

Once he’s fully back, Illinois has a chance to be the best team in the Big Ten, and maybe even in contention for all of college basketball. I expect the Illini to win a lot down the stretch as long as Shannon is in the lineup.

1. Purdue Boilermakers (Last Week: No. 1)

Record: 17-2 overall, 6-2 B1G

Purdue has the largest scoring margin in the Big Ten and has easily the best player in college basketball in Zach Edey. He’s scored over 30 points and had a double-double in each of the last three games. There has not been this dominant of a player in college basketball in quite some time and the Boilermakers will need him to continue this run to actually push for a Big Ten and National Championship.