Week 1 Big Ten Power Rankings
Big Ten Power Rankings for Week 1
Basketball season is underway for the Big Ten teams. All but one team, the Northwestern Wildcats, played at least one game in the opening week.
Only two teams lost a game in the first week of the season. Michigan State fell 66-62 to the Connecticut Huskies and the Purdue Boilermakers were beaten 70-65 in their opener against the Bucknell Bison.
The way I see it, though, the losses by the Spartans and Boilermakers aren't a reason for fans to switch to panic mode.
The Huskies aren't a bad team and should still be one of the better squads in the Big East this season. Bucknell went 25-10 a year ago nearly made the NCAA tournament. Michigan State is still going to be a contender for the conference title and I expect Purdue to have a decent season.
The Indiana Hoosiers are still the team to beat in the Big Ten as they took care of business in their first two games. The Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan Wolverines were impressive in their wins as well.
Illinois got off to an impressive start as well, winning its first two games, and perhaps there is a chance the Illini will be a much better team than expected when it’s all said and done if it continues to play well on the defensive end of the floor.
The schedule will get more interesting for every team as we wind through the remainder of November and into December. Once we get through those two months, we will have a much better idea of where teams stand heading into conference play.
For now, enjoy looking through my power rankings for the week and always feel free to hit me up on Twitter @BLester1993 or send me an email at email@example.com.
No. 12 - Nebraska Cornhuskers
Head coach Tim Miles won his first game as the head coach of the Cornhuskers. Nebraska knocked off Southern 66-55 and Brando Ubel gave the Cornhuskiers (1-0) a huge lift, scoring 21 points and 12 rebounds. It was the second double-double of his career.
If Ubel can continue to give those type of efforts night in and night out, Nebraska will be a decent team in the conference. Ray Gallegos also seems ready to provide offense after scoring 16 in the win.
Nebraska shot 51.9 percent from the floor, another promising sign for a team that will need to be as efficient as possible on the offensive end to have success this year.
No. 11 - Penn State Nittany Lions
If Penn State is going to do anything this season, Tim Frazier will need to continue to have nights like he did in the opener against St. Francis.
Frazier poured in 23 points, getting to the line 18 times and knocking down 17 of his free throws. It is the 19th 20-point game of his career.
The Nittany Lions (1-0), though, still need to work on shooting the ball as a team and taking care of the basketball. They shot just 37 percent from the floor and committed 17 turnovers. Those two stats won't win you a lot of games come conference play.
No. 10 Northwestern Wildcats
The Northwestern Wildcats are scheduled to open their season tonight against Texas Southern, and if they hope to make a run at their first-ever NCAA tournament bid, this is a game they need to win.
The Wildcats have won their last four season openers and that streak should hit five.
Northwestern knocked off Chicago 70-46 in an exhibition game last week, with Drew Crawford scoring 13 points and grabbing eight rebounds. Crawford should have a big game in the opener and will need to be consistent for the Wildcats if they are going to finally get to the NCAA tournament.
No. 9 Purdue Boilermakers
No one expected the Purdue Boilermakers to be a dominant force in the Big Ten this year after losing three of their best players.
But I think if you give this team time, head coach Matt Painter is going to figure things out. Which is why there is no reason to worry about the season-opening loss to Bucknell.
As I've said before, parity is now a part of life in college basketball and smaller schools are going to find ways to win against schools from power conferences.
Plus, Terone Johnson, the Boilermakers' top scoring threat, sat out with an ankle injury. If he plays, Purdue wins.
Purdue did bounce back against Hofstra, rolling to an 83-54 win. Anthony Johnson led the way with 14 points, and as long as Purdue continues to get after it defensively the way it did against Hofstra, it will be fine.
The one concern at the moment is the 20 turnovers Purdue had in the win. Wins will be tough to come by if that happens in the Big Ten.
No. 8 Iowa Hawkeyes
Iowa got the job done in its first two games, rolling past Texas Pan American (86-55) and Central Michigan (73-61) and is off to the start it had hoped for this season.
I know the Hawkeyes didn't play the best competition, but they did play well defensively, holding both opponents to under 40 percent shooting. Defense is based on effort, and if the Hawkeyes can play hard on that end of the floor, it won't matter as much that they don't really have a lot of explosive scorers. iowa did show its balance in the two wins, though, and its likely going to be a team that doesn't rely on one guy to get the job done offensively./p>
No. 7 Illinois Fighting Illini
One thing I noticed about the Illini (2-0) in the early part of this season is that they have found other players who can score besides D.J. Richardson and Brandon Paul.
In the win over St. Francis (89-64), Tyler Griffey pumped in 17 points and Tracy Abrams added 15 points to pave the way in the win.
Paul did score 14 in the victory, and obviously, he will always need to be an integral part of the offense if Illinois is going to be successful.
In the 75-55 win over Colgate, Paul was the leading scorer with 20 points but Griffey and Abrams again contributed, scoring 13 and 10 points, respectively.The Illini have played hard in the early going for sure and if they can get balance, they will be better than expected this season.
No. 6 Minnesota Golden Gophers
The Minnesota Golden Gophers (2-0) looked very impressive on defense in their first two games of the season. They blasted American 72-36 and knocked off Toledo 82-56.
Rodney Williams looked good in the win over the Rockets, scoring 12 points, grabbing eight rebounds and tallying four steals. As a team, the Golden Gophers limited the Rockets to 31.1 percent shooting and forced 13 turnovers.
Austin Hollins poured in 20 points against American, including 15 in the first half, and the Golden Gophers held American to 23.7 percent shooting while forcing 22 turnovers.
Minnesota seems to have enough options offensively and if it keeps playing hard on defense, it will be in a position to be a contender for the conference title.
No. 5 Wisconsin Badgers
The Wisconsin Badgers always seem to have players that can step up and get the job done when needed, and in the opener against Southeast Louisiana, Ben Brust was that guy. He scored 14 points and pulled down 11 rebounds for his first career double-double.
Brust was a sixth man last year and he could be just the player the Badgers need to be a contender in the Big Ten.
Wisconsin looked solid on defense in the opener as well, holding the Lions to 35.2 percent shooting, and the Badgers are going to be tough to deal with on that end of the floor all season.
No. 4 Michigan State Spartans
Some people will wonder why I haven't moved Michigan State (0-1) further down the rankings after a loss to Connecticut, but for the time being, I'm not ready to say the Spartans aren't a top four team in the Big Ten.
It's not like the Huskies blew the Spartans out. They only lost by four points. Yes, the Spartans trailed by as many as 16 in the first half, but they battled back and made it a game.
The thing is, Michigan State is a tough basketball team and the Spartans won't be an easy out for anyone.
The Spartans will learn from their mistakes against the Huskies and improve. It's definitely not time to write them off yet.
No. 3 Michigan Wolverines
The Michigan Wolverines didn't have much trouble winning their first two games of the year, rolling to a 100-62 win over Slippery Rock and knocking off IUPUI 91-54 in the first game of the NIT Tip-Off tournament.
The Wolverines did what they were supposed to do, and that is beat up on inferior competition.
Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke have shown early on just what they are capable of doing when they are clicking on all cylinders and they have plenty of help around them, which is a good thing for a team that has its sights set on competing for the national title.
For now, the Wolverines are easily a top three team in the Big Ten and should stay there as long as they keep getting consistent play on both ends of the floor.
No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes
The Ohio State Buckeyes are 1-0 after stomping on Albany 82-60 on Monday night. The Buckeyes were scheduled to play Marquette this past Friday but the aircraft carrier game in South Carolina was canceled.
As expected, the Buckeyes were tough defensively, holding Albany to 35.6 percent shooting and forcing 16 turnovers.
They also got a huge lift from Aaron Craft, who scored 20 points, including 15 from beyond the arc. Craft is known for being one of the top defensive players in the country, and if he continues to have big nights offensively, it's going to be scary just how good Ohio State can be this season.
No. 1 Indiana Hoosiers
The Indiana Hoosiers did nothing to lose their hold on the top spot in the Big Ten Power Rankings. Indiana rolled through its first two games of the year, topping Bryant 97-54 and knocking off North Dakota State 87-61.
Cody Zeller did nothing to hurt his reputation as a potential national player of the year candidate as he scored 40 points and pulled down 19 rebounds in the first two games of the year.
Unless opponents figure out a way to slow down Zeller, it's going to be tough to knock off Indiana, especially with the balance the Hoosiers have on their roster.