When doing a Big Ten Power rankings this time of year, there’s three tiers. You have your top three teams, a force to be reckoned with in national college basketball. Then you have this muddled mix of mediocre blah. Some of it will rise to the cream, and possibly make a run in March because this is kind of a down year nationally.
Some of the muddled mass is just blahhhh ughh though; but those teams will get a tourney bid anyway because expanding the field by three (although the perfect move at the perfect time, making the field more even and eliminating the condescending play-in game) has actually watered down the bracket much more than anyone anticipated.
Then there’s the third tier- which is just…kind of ugly.
By Paul M. Banks
1. Ohio State Buckeyes (27-2, 14-2)- Jared Sullinger post touches are getting too few and far between in recent games. Coach Thad Matta needs to fix that. And for them to stay on that top line seeding wise, they need to shore up their d.
“We’ve allowed too high of a field goal percentage. We’ve turned some teams over, but we needed to get back to a mindset of defense. We’ve got to keep that intensity, every play it has got to be there. You look at Illinois and Purdue, we gave up some easy baskets,” Matta said Sunday.
3. Wisconsin Badgers (22-6, 12-4)- Who saw Jordan Taylor coming? I seriously had not even heard of him before this winter, and now he looks like an all-big ten first teamer.
THE MUDDLED MEDIOCRE MIDDLE
4. Illinois Fighting Illini (18-11, 8-8)- I feel so dirty and disgusting putting them here, but what other options do I have? Michigan State looked like the 8th or 9th best team at home on Sunday, and the Spartans are the only team below that I can honestly say is a better team. For more on the Illini bubble profile go here.
5. Michigan State Spartans (16-12, 8-8)- Normally, I would rank them higher just because they always turn it on in March. But can you really see them doing this year? Honestly? This is also the one year that their traditional Big Ten Tournament struggles will bite them in the ass.
6. Penn State Nittany Lions (15-12, 8-8)-When you first glance at Penn State, you may wonder how their 15-12, 8-8 in he Big Ten record gets them placed on the dance card. Look closer and you’ll see a phenomenal #6 strength of schedule and a decent #53 RPI. For more detail on the tourney chances go here
7. Michigan Wolverines (18-12, 8-9)- Most bracketologists have them as one of the last teams in; which is interesting. So by default all the bubble teams ahead of them here on this list are in as well. But don’t forget- there will be bids stolen during Championship week, so they (as well as ILL, MSU, PSU still have work to do)
THE BAD: these teams need to worry about their NIT chances at this point.
8. Minnesota Golden Gophers (17-11, 6-10)– They lost the battle with Michigan on Saturday for the little brown jug, oh wait, sorry that’s college football. Anyways, that was kind of a “play-out game,” like the opposite of a “play-in game.” PLEASE stop calling wins over this team a “resume win.” Yes, before Al Nolen went down that phrase truly applied. But today, they’re a train wreck without a point guard.
9. Northwestern Wildcats (16-12, 6-11)- If ever there was season that proved you actually have to schedule real teams in the preconference, this is it. If they want to be a big boy program they need to actually schedule legitimate opponents in the non-conference. Until that starts happening, you can’t take them seriously as a tournament bid contender.
11. Iowa Hawkeyes (10-18, 3-13)- Is this roster full of obscure names? Take my spot the fake Hawkeye Quiz! Answers in nest BTPR.
1. A. Cody Cox B. Zhane McCullen C. Devon Archie D. Darius Stokes
2. A. Jordan Stoermer B. T.J. Sayre C. Branden Stubbs D. Shonfar Sampson
3. A. Roy Marble B. Melsahn Basabe C. Plexiconius Johnson D. Zach McCabe
You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank
He also does a regular guest spot each week for Cleveland.com and Chicagoland Sports Radio.com