Big 10 Basketball predictions (“power” rankings)

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There are plenty of Big 10 basketball teams that owe us an apology right now. We tracked all of the losses that the league suffered to low-majors and mid-majors up until a couple weeks ago (results here). Then the number hit the high teens, and we just gave up.

Getting people to care about college hoops during the holidays is always difficult. When Big 10 basketball is having a really down year like this, it’s even harder.

Hey, at least they won the annual challenge versus the ACC!

badgers big 10 basketball

Not only did Big 10 basketball suffer a couple dozen or so bad losses, the signature wins were very few and far between. You need those to balance each other out on your NCAA Tournament resume. In the preseason, we thought this could be a 7 or 8 bid league.

As conference play tips off tomorrow night, 4 or 5 seems more legitimate. So it’s an oxymoron to say this is a “power” rankings. This is a prediction, based on in very large part on how they have all looked thus far.

First number indicates final non-conference record, parentheticals indicate expected league record. We also added them up to show what we expect to see upon entering the Big 10 basketball Tournament.

badgers big 10 basketball

1.Wisconsin 12-1 (15-3) = 27-4

The Georgetown and Oklahoma wins will look pretty good on the resume come March. The #1 slot of Big 10 basketball is the only one that’s a no-brainer.

2. Maryland 12-1 (13-5) = 25-6

 The win over #13 Iowa State carries the B1G flag thus far. They kept winning impressively even without their best play Dez Wells. He returned last night and looked fine. I guess this means “fear the turtle” again?

maryland terrapin cheerleaders

3. Ohio State 11-2 (11-7) = 22-9

Thus begins the “hey, I had to put somebody #3/in this place” routine. The Buckeyes played so few real games against real teams. And in the two contests against actual competition, they were not competitive at all. D’Angelo Russell mirrors the team- against the scrubs, he always dominates. But when he faced legitimate resistance, he was not that good. Although he was hindered in the Louisville game by having to play out of position in the second half.

3. Indiana 10-3 (11-7) = 21-10

Again “had to put somebody here.” Their lack of defense and extreme lack of size means they could be worse during the Big Ten basketball season than they were during the pre-season. I was wrong when I said that James Blackmon Jr. would be the best freshman SHOOTER in the nation this year. He’s actually the best freshman SCORER in the nation.

tom izzo b1g michigan state basketball

5. Michigan State 9-4 (10-8) = 19-12

Tom Izzo is really having a down year thus far. They are among the best teams in the nation when shooting the three, but they’re overly reliant on it. The Spartans can lose to almost anybody (Texas Southern does truly qualify as “anybody”) when they’re missing from deep. Love the defense and rebounding, but hate the turnovers and the 0-3 record versus the RPI top 100. I’m, only putting them this high because we know Izzo’s teams usually get better as the season goes along.

6. Minnesota 11-2  (9-9) = 20-11

Has every single team in this conference lost to Louisville this year?  Just like everybody seems to have played North Florida this pre-conference. And yes, it has become an annual tradition lately, Gophers and Illini entering into conference tournament time squarely on the bubble. They’re both mid-table this winter as well.

taylor-rooks-illini-football

7. Illinois 10-3 (10-8) = 20-11

Hopefully, the Baylor win can carry them into the NCAA Tourney like the North Carolina win did in 2010-11. The Oregon loss hurts the resume, and Mizzou being so down (even though it was a win) doesn’t exactly help the RPI, SOS, KenPom, Sagarin numbers etc. Illinois will need to get a win or two over Wisconsin, Maryland or someone ranked, so as to not be relegated to the NIT again. If Rayconte Rice didn’t have to do so much of the work all by himself…that would be good!

8. Iowa 9-4 (9-10) = 18-14

In the preseason, I said the Hawkeyes would take a step back this year, even though everyone seemed to be quite high on them for some reason. Thus far, it would seem that I’m right.

9. Penn State 12-1 (7-11) = 18-12

Very much exceeded expectations, but don’t let that record fool you. They still haven’t played anyone, and their lone loss came a Charlotte that actually isn’t anything to write home about.  You’ll notice that the Big Ten will end up with a lot of NIT quality teams this season.

nebrasketball-tim-miles

10. Nebraska 8-4 (6-12) = 14-16

Looks like it’s back to the Nebrasketball you know and love. Which is odd considering everybody who matters returned from a NCAA Tourney team. Huskers should be much better than this, but quite a few mid-major and low-major teams showed us that…they’re not!

jim-harbaugh-michigan

11. Michigan 7-5 (6-12) = 13-17

You knew this was a lost season a long time ago. It’s unexpected, and unfortunate given how much talent they have, but they’re hopeless. But HEY JIM HARBAUGH!!!! IT’S HAPPENING!!! Yes, the Khaki-ed one is supposed to get a hero’s welcome tomorrow night for the conference opener versus Illinois.

jim harbaugh

12. Purdue  8-5  (5-13) = 13-18

I hate to keep piling on A.J. Hammons, because that’s all anyone ever does when talking about this team, but seriously! It’s a bigger issue than Hammons not getting better, or just staying at the same levee; he’s genuinely regressing. What a shame when you consider all potential and what he could really have in “the real world.”

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13. Northwestern 9-4  (4-14) = 13-18

Don’t expect anything ground-breaking in 2014-15, and 2015-16 probably won’t be a NCAA Tournament campaign either. When 2016-17 gets here, things should take a major step forward. There are a couple nice pieces in place already with freshmen big man Vic Law and point guard Bryant McIntosh. When they become juniors, that’s when NU could become a NIT level to tourney bubble kind of team. When they’re seniors, in 2017-18, then maybe the Wildcats will go dancing.

Here’s a lot more on all these ideas, as well as the future of NU basketball: Vic Law, Bryant McIntosh, Aaron Falzon, Jordan Ash. 

Ash 1.JPG

14. Rutgers 7-5 (2-16) = 9-25

Don’t know what’s been uglier- their wins or their losses. No high-major should have a record this close to .500 by this point in the season. Every power five conference team, certainly every Big 10 basketball team, should have a winning percentage that’s 80% or higher come New Year’s.

Paul M. Banks owns, operates and writes The Sports Bank.net ,which is partners with Fox Sports. Read his feature stories in the Chicago Tribune RedEye edition. Listen to him on KOZN 1620 The Zone. Follow him on Twitter (@paulmbanks). His work has been featured in hundreds of media outlets including The Washington Post and ESPN 2

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