Big Ten Power Rankings: Week One (Dec 31 – Jan 7)


Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

First, let me explain how these power rankings will be calculated each week. These rankings are NOT a direct depiction of overall record, Big Ten record, or AP rankings. These rankings ARE my personal opinion taking into account each team’s entire body of work, including conference play and non-conference play. Big Ten power rankings will be released every Tuesday for the remainder of the season. Accompanying the rankings will be a poll to capture the pulse of the public, since these rankings are strictly MY personal opinion.

1. Michigan (15-0) (2-0): The unblemished Wolverines continue to roll. After two dominating performances to open Big Ten play, there’s no reason to place them anywhere but the top spot. However, the Wolverines lack a real signature win aside from maybe a late November win over NC State in Ann Arbor. Next week at Ohio State will be their first real test of the season.

2. Minnesota (14-1) (2-0): Maybe a little premature putting the Golden Gophers ahead of Indiana, but you can’t argue with their on-court performance. Their lone defeat came at the hands of the best team in the country and they also hold impressive victories over Memphis, Florida State, and Michigan State. For now, the Gophers deserve to be #2, but they will have to prove themselves in Bloomington this week to maintain the position.

3. Indiana (14-1) (2-0): With one lone hiccup against Butler in an overtime loss, the Hoosiers remain among the elite in the Big Ten and the country. Combine the ugly loss to Butler with the lack of a signature win (outside of maybe North Carolina at home), then add in a scare at Iowa, and suddenly there’s some reason to doubt the Hoosiers. This week’s matchup with Minnesota will be a big statement game for Indiana.

4. Illinois (14-2) (1-1): A bad loss to Purdue this past week prevents Illinois from moving into the Big Ten elite trio. However, with impressive wins over Butler, Gonzaga, and Ohio State, the Illini are slowly proving they’re back in the conversation. A date with Minnesota tomorrow night may shake up next week’s power rankings.

5. Ohio State (11-3) (1-1): All the Buckeyes losses have come to top-ranked teams, but a thrashing at Illinois this past week really exposed some of their weaknesses. Some are already disappointed over the lack of a big win from Ohio State, but I say let’s wait and see what Big Ten play has in store. I’m not writing them off after one embarrassing loss.

6. Michigan State (12-3) (1-1): As per usual, Tom Izzo’s team has somewhat overachieved thus far. After losing a lot of key pieces, they’ve looked good outside of one bad loss to Miami in South Beach. A few easier Big Ten opponents (if there is such a thing) lie ahead for the Spartans, so they could really get on a roll heading into February.

7. Wisconsin (11-4) (2-0): Aside from the losses at Florida and versus Creighton , Wisconsin has yet to play anyone of note. This is the most hollow 11 wins you’ll see in the Big Ten. With 6 of their next 7 games against ranked opponents, we could see Wisconsin pile up a few losses very quickly.

8. Iowa (11-4) (0-2): Iowa has had the toughest run of the Big Ten teams so far, playing Indiana and Michigan in the first week of conference play. Their 11 wins are also pretty hollow, but I don’t think the Hawkeyes are as bad as these first two Big Ten games have indicated.

9. Purdue (7-7) (1-1): The Boilermakers have some really atrocious losses thus far, but have also proven they can hang in there against some tough teams. The highlight of their season thus far was a monster win at home versus Illinois last week. A thrashing at the hands of Michigan State brought them right back down to earth, but don’t be surprised if Purdue catches some conference teams napping this year.

10. Nebraska (9-6) (0-2): Not ready to dole out any respect to the Cornhuskers. They’ve shown some ability on the defensive end, but 6 losses against some pretty soft competition is nothing short of dismal.

11. Northwestern (9-6) (0-2): The Cats haven’t really shown anything worth talking about yet this season. Their offense has been anemic and an unspeakable loss to University of Illinois-Chicago (?) really sums things up for Northwestern.

12. Penn State (8-6) (0-2): The Nittany Lions, right at home in the basement of the Big Ten. Boasting one of the worst offenses in the country, I don’t see Penn State moving out of this position any time soon.

Please feel free to leave a comment with your personal gripes or commendations. I assume Hoosier Nation may have something to say about these Week One rankings, but I can’t say that with any conviction. Good or bad, let your voice be heard. Thanks.