By Paul M. Banks
1. Purdue (20-3, 9-3)
yes, the Spartans still didn’t have a 100% Kalin Lucas, but winning at the Breslin Center is still winning at the Breslin Center. And the Boilers, winners of five in a row, now look like the conference team positioned to make the best tournament run in March.
2. Michigan State (19-6, 9-3)
Every team hits a rough patch at some point of the season. Better to get it over with now than during the tourney, right? At least no one can used the tired “they’re peaking too soon” cliche on State.
3. Ohio State (19-6, 9-3)
Can we start calling Evan Turner “His Royal Smoothness”? Given the extreme shortage of really good nicknames in this generation, we need this one.
Yes, this team is talented, and starting to play up to its high potential finally. And Illini fans should be excited about that. However, some of the texts I got this week “Illinois is going to run the table in conference” and comments on my YouTube video exclusive with Demetri McCamey “he’ll go down as one of the best Illini ever”- I just got to say SLOW DOWN!!! “Settle down Beavis” as Butthead would say.
5. Wisconsin (18-6, 8-4)
A loss at the Kohl Center? How and when does that happen? When you can’t make a three to save your life over critical stretches of the game, and (because you’re sans Jon Leuer) overly reliant on the perimeter game to begin with.
6. Minnesota (14-8, 5-5)
Does anyone really think this team can win a NCAA tournament game? If they make it that is…The Gophers are the perfect example of a team that would benefit from tournament expansion, do they really belong there in the first place though? Sunday’s battle at Evanston is essentially a “play-out game”. Loser of that contest will be serious trouble for a tourney bid.
7. Northwestern (16-8, 5-7)
An EMBARASSING loss at Iowa severely damaged their NCAA hopes. Sad too, because it was (and still can be) right there for them to grab. Now they must win at Wisconsin to grab another signature win for their resume.
8. Michigan (11-12, 4-7)
Sometimes, it really looks like they have packed it in for the year.
9. Iowa (9-16, 3-9)
They are a plucky bunch- despite their unsightly record. I hate watching a game and hearing Brennan Cougill’s name, because it sounds like the announcers keep saying “Google”.
10. Indiana (9-14, 3-8)
11. Penn State (8-15, 0-11)
They will beat somebody in the Big Ten this year, I promise you. They may finish 1-17 in conference like Northwestern did in ’08