By Paul M. Banks
1. Michigan State (19-4, 9-1)
As bad as the Kalin Lucas injury looked, it’s not that bad. The green & white nation can all breathe in a collective sigh of relief. However, right when it seemed like State was going to floor it and put everyone back in their rearview mirror, a funny thing happened- a conference race began.
2. Wisconsin (17-5, 7-3)
I admit it, I was a huge heretic; especially after Jon Leuer went down. But they’ve somehow gotten better since then. I will never doubt Bo Ryan again. They could probably beat the 1991 UNLV team if the game was held at the Kohl Center
3. Ohio State (17-6, 7-3)
William Buford is really coming on strong now, he gives them another weapon to rely on down the stretch. And forward Dallas Lauderdale can give PSU’s Talor Battle a strong challenge in the race to replace Lindsey Hunter as the best basketball player with an adult film star sounding name in history.
4. Purdue (18-3, 6-3)
This is a very nicely balanced, even-handed team. They’re 2nd in conference in scoring, 5th in scoring defense, second in shooting, 3rd in field goal percentage defense.
5. Minnesota (13-8, 4-5)
It’s funny because I only gave a tie out in my football power rankings once- and it was also midseason, also these two schools. Minnesota will now officially have to start life without Royce White, last year’s state of Minnesota Mr. Basketball. He was a top-flight recruit, but also a severe head case with a knack for finding himself in legal trouble. Maybe it’s for the best.
5. Northwestern (15-7, 4-6)
Don’t let the sub .500 conference record fool you. The Cats schedule just happened to be extremely front-loaded in difficulty. They did pick up a signature win over a top ten Purdue team, and don’t have to play a rematch in West Lafayette. If they can get 10-8 at the end of the conference slate, they should be dancing.
Don’t let the nice conference record fool you- pretty much all of it came against conference bottom feeders, and they didn’t blow anyone out; except Iowa at home. With their next four vs. top 20 ranked opponents (two on the road) they’ll have to win at least one, if not two of these games to escape NIT purgatory. They’ll need the quality wins to boost RPI and cancel out those 3 UGLY losses (Georgia, Bradley, Utah).
8. Michigan (11-10, 4-5)
I’d be hard pressed to think of a better example in recent memory of a “2 two man team” than this bunch led by DeShawn Sims and Manny Harris. Therefore, I will refer to the Michigan Wolverines as the Michigan HarriSims from now on. See there is justice in the world.
9. Iowa (8-15, 2-8)
Everyone likes to criticize Wisconsin for being the slowest, most boring whitest team in the world, but have you seen this bunch? They are so difficult to watch they make Hickory high school in “Hoosiers” look like Magic Johnson’s “Showtime Era” Lakers. However, they seem to “almost” beat everyone they play.
10. Indiana (9-11, 3-5)
They have a RPI of 225, and a Sagarin ranking of 72.10 just in case you were wondering about what their “tournament resume” would look like to the committee. LOL!
11. Penn State (8-14, 0-10)
The “Penn State Talor Battles” seem to have the basement position locked up now. But they’re really not that bad. In 6/10 conference losses they held a late second half lead.
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