Now that Big 10 teams have a body of work both inside and outside the conference, it is time for an update to our Big 10 Rant basketball power rankings. For each team we are including; strength of schedule (SOS), RPI ranking, Associated Press ranking, ESPN/USA Today ranking, overall and conference records, records versus top 25 teams and records against top 50 RPI teams.
Our RPI and SOS numbers come from Jerry P. Palm’s CollegeRPI.com which we consider the best number cruncher in the business. Mr. Palm is the man who discovered the flaw in the BCS rankings calculation right before the bowl games. His football site numbers are used in the BCS formula.
1. Ohio State Buckeyes, 20-0, 7-0 conference, AP No. 1, ESPN/USA No. 1, RPI 6, SOS 54, record vs top-25 2-0, record vs top-50 RPI 5-0.
The top-ranked Buckeyes have multiple weapons on offense besides Jared Sullinger. They can run in transition or play a solid half-court game and have four players who can shoot the three. Illinois challenged them this weekend and the Buckeyes responded with a strong second half rally. They lead the Big 10 in field goal percentage and in defensive field goal percentage. Buckeyes have a great mix of upperclassmen and three freshmen making major contributions. Tough tests await though as six of their next eight games are against ranked teams. Next three – Purdue, @ Northwestern, Michigan.
2. Purdue Boilermakers, 17-3, 6-1 conference, AP No. 14, ESPN/USA No. 13, RPI 12, SOS 33, record vs top-25 1-1, record vs top-50 RPI 3-2.
Pair of victories over Penn St. and Michigan St. last week have Boilermakers back on track. Tuesday night they travel to Ohio State in the biggest conference game to date. JaJuan Johnson is playing like an All-American and E’Twaun Moore looks like he has snapped out of a slump. If John Hart comes back strong from his injury, Lewis Jackson continues his recent playmaking and Ryne Smith gives consistent contributions, Purdue can challenge for Big 10 title. If they beat Ohio State they technically are in the lead, a loss drops them 2 1/2 games back. Next three- @ Ohio State, Minnesota, @ Wisconsin.
3. Wisconsin Badgers, 15-4, 5-2 conference, AP No. 17, ESPN/USA No. 15, RPI 26, SOS 46, record vs top-25 2-1, record vs top-50 RPI 3-2.
The Badgers have won three in a row to take our third place. Jordan Taylor is the best guard in the Big 10, Jon Leuer is an All-Big 10 player. Keaton Nankivil is exploding in Big 10 play and becoming a force. Freshman Josh Gasser has emerged as a threat as well, recording the first triple double in Wisconsin history last night. Bo Ryan has developed this team under the radar. Next three- @ Penn St., Purdue, Michigan St..
4. Minnesota Golden Gophers, 14-4, 4-3 conference, AP No. 16, ESPN/USA No. 18, RPI 22, SOS 37, record vs top-25 2-2, record vs top-50 RPI 2-2.
Tubby Smith seems to have his house in order and settled the distractions. They ride a three-game winning streak with a signature victory over Purdue. Smith has developed a good bench and Blake Hoffarber continues to come up big. Mr. “double-double,” Trevor Mbakwe, has shown team leadership in accepting sixth man role. Gophers interior defense of lumberjacks leads Big 10 in rebounding and is second in field goal defense, they also rank eighth in country in blocked shots. Next three- Northwestern, @ Indiana, @ Purdue.
5. Michigan State Spartans, 12-7, 4-3 conference, AP No. 25, ESPN/USA NR, RPI 21, SOS 3, record vs top-25 3-5, record vs top-50 RPI 3-6.
The Spartans have dug early holes in just about every Big 10 game. They have shown resilience to pull out a few, but last week went 0-2. They settle for too many jump shots and Kalin Lucas continues to turn the ball over and seems to have the same affliction as fellow guard Korie Lucious, they can’t hit their shots. Where would Sparty be without Draymond Green’s all-around hustle and contributions.
6. Illinois Fighting Illini, 14-6, 4-3 conference, AP No. 20, ESPN/USA No. 21, RPI 28, SOS 11, record vs top-25 2-3, record vs top-50 RPI 6-4.
The Illini wheels are coming off the tracks. They rely on the three but couldn’t hit them against Ohio State when they had them on ropes. They have lost three out of four in conference action. They lack Big 10 bodies on the block. Coach Bruce Weber needs to settle on a rotation and Demetri McCamey needs to be more consistent, he disappeared against Ohio State. Next three- @ Indiana, Penn St., @ Northwestern.
7. Penn State Nittany Lions, 10-8, 3-4 conference, RPI 49, SOS 5, record vs top-25 2-3, record vs top-50 RPI 2-3.
They do have Talor Battle, the Big 10 leading scorer, but he is only making 40% of his shots and as a team Penn State ranks 207th in the country in field goal percentage and 249th in rebounding. They just came off a stretch playing five top-25 teams in a row- welcome to the Big 10- they did manage to play everybody tough and won two of the five. They need to pickoff a few games against the elite to get on the bubble for March. Next three- Iowa, Wisconsin, @ Illinois.
Northwestern Wildcats, 13-6, 3-5, RPI 75, SOS 109, record vs top-25 0-4, record vs top-50 RPI 0-5.
Too bad John Shurna has been banged up in Big 10 play, but the Big 10 will do that to you. Wildcats had aspirations of dancing in March, they’d better set their sights on a Broadway show in New York. At least they can beat up on the bottom three. Their style of offense and their reliance on zones isn’t fooling or scaring the premiere conference teams. Next three- @ Minnesota, Ohio State, Illinois.
Last Place, Dead Heat Three Way Tie, Michigan Wolverines, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes.
We’re not gonna bother with records or RPI’s because these teams have not really beat anybody. They are young and rebuilding, can’t remember last time Big 10 had three teams this bad at the same time. Wait till next year.