By Paul M. Banks
1. Michigan State (19-3, 9-0)
The first 9-0 (or even 8-0) team in State history. As the Spartans begin to pull away in the conference race, those early season losses to Florida and North Carolina look like they happened in 2002. Some of their wins have been ugly yes, but then again so is Big Ten basketball some of the time.
2. Ohio State (15-6, 5-3)
West Virginia’s Devin Ebanks proved that the league’s best player, Evan Turner can be guarded, and limited. Not shut-down, but certainly limited. That individual match-up, and overall game said a lot about the respective strength of both conferences.
3. Purdue (17-3, 5-3)
This year, the big ten regular season means very little, other than how it relates to tournament seeding. After last year’s Sweet 16 appearance, it’s Elite Eight, Final Four or bust in West Lafayette
4. Wisconsin (15-5, 6-3)
I got a lot of interesting feedback and emails from Badger maniacs this week, in response to what I said about the team in last week’s power rankings. Some of them even believe that Keaton Nankivil and Jordan Taylor have the ability to take over a game all by themselves. Sure, keep telling yourself that. Whatever it takes to get through this Leuerless dark period. If you can cope without doing dope, keep up the hope!
addendum: Yes, I realize Nankivil went 7-8 from behind the arc in the Purdue game, but 1.) he still rarely creates his own shot 2.) even Manute Bol once hit 6 threes in a game, and on the same night his wife won the lottery
Probably deserve to fall a spot, but I can’t think of anyone who is worthy of replacing them. Following/rooting for this team is like approaching the girl who’s getting bombed all by herself up at the bar. There will be highs, lows, and ambiguities. Good times, bad times and mixed results. Both pleasant and agonizing things will happen. And dull moments will be few and far between.
6. Minnesota (13-7, 4-4)
The loss of Al Nolen to suspension HURTS!! tremendously. They may miss the NCAAs this year. It’s shame they fell to Michigan St. in the final minutes last week. It was an otherwise gutsy performance.
7. Northwestern (14-7, 3-6)
Don’t abandon the NCAA Tournament ship just yet. After the trip to the Breslin Center, the rough seas will pass and the NU vessel will find its way to calmer waters when the easier schedule of February/March begins. The first ever tourney bid can still end up in Evanston harbor.
8. Michigan (11-10, 4-5)
Had a chance to close out wins in two of the toughest games on the conference slate (at Wisconsin, Michigan State) but failed both times. Like the real estate salesmen in Glengarry Glen Ross, “coffee is for closers”. There’s no coffee for the Wolverines right now.
9. Indiana (9-11, 3-5)
Losing at home to Iowa? Yes, it appears Tom Crean’s timetable for program revitalization is delayed yet again.
10. Iowa (8-14, 2-7)
Todd Lickliter’s son John is the real life Rudy of Big Ten basketball “5 foot nothing, a hundred and nothing” see the walk-on airball three point attempts; good times.
11. Penn State (8-12, 0-8)
The “Penn State Talor Battles” have found a second actual player: junior guard Chris Babb, who scored in double figures twice last week, giving him 8 double figure games on the week.