College Basketball Week 3 Big Ten Power Rankings
Hoosiers Still The Top Team In The Big Ten
One thing is for sure after two weeks of basketball in the Big Ten, and that is this league is loaded with very good teams.
The Indiana Hoosiers are one of eight teams still unbeaten. Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, Nebraska, Northwestern and Ohio State are perfect as well.
Michigan State and Wisconsin have only lost once while Penn State is at the .500 mark. The only team with a losing record at the moment in the league is Purdue, which is 1-3.
No one should be surprised by the success Big Ten teams have had up to this point. The conference could very well be the best in the nation this year, but it is still early and only time will tell how it all shakes out. I will say that I think several teams are going to be better than expected, especially Illinois and Iowa. The Illini has one of the best offenses in the league, ranking third at 84 points per game, and the Hawkeyes are among the best defensively in the conference, allowing just 52.6 points per outing.
As of right now, however, Indiana is still the best team in the conference. The Hoosiers have been tested but they have lived up to their billing as the top team in the country. Until that changes, they won't be leaving the top spot in my rankings.
Enough of the talk, though. It's time to take a look at my latest power rankings. As always, feel free to follow me on Twitter @BLester1993 or hit me up with an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
No. 12 Purdue Boilermakers
I don't think Purdue is the worst team in the Big Ten even if it is 1-3. The Boilermakers are going to win a lot of games this season. But at the moment, they have the fewest wins of all of the teams in the conference.
Yet, that doesn't mean fans should be concerned. All three of Purdue's losses have been by eight points or less, including an overtime loss to Villanova.
Four different players have led Purdue in scoring this year, and that is an encouraging sign going forward for this team.
Purdue just needs to find a way to start winning those close games. If it does, it has a chance to be one of the better teams in the Big Ten.
No. 11 - Penn State Nittany Lions
Penn State (2-2) is going to have to find someone to step up with Tim Frazier hurt. Frazier was the heart and soul of the Nittany Lions' team and it's unfortunate that his season is over because of an injury.
D.J. Newbill will probably have to be that guy, but he will need some teammates to help him out if the Nittany Lions are going to overcome the loss of Frazier.
Newbill is averaging 14.5 points per outing. Penn State is averaging 58.8 points per game as a team. That average will need to go up significantly if Penn State is going to be a competitive team in the league.
No. 10 Nebraska Cornhuskers
Nebraska hasn't exactly played the best competition up to this point but the Cornhuskers have won every game they have played and sit at 3-0. The early wins will help build confidence for a Nebraska team that is hoping for a winning season.
Brandon Ubel has shown his potential early, averaging 16.3 points and 8 rebounds per game. Ubel needs to continue to play at a high level for the Cornhuskers to succeed.
Ray Gallegos and Dylan Talley have looked good early as well, with each averaging just over 13 points per game. Nebraska has also gotten after it defensively, allowing 55 points per outing and forcing 40 turnovers. But their defensive effort will need to improve if they are going to survive the grind of the Big Ten.
No. 9 Iowa Hawkeyes
The Iowa Hawkeyes are on a roll. They have won their first five games behind a stellar defensive effort, giving up more than 60 points just once en route to the unbeaten start. The Hawkeyes are allowing only 52.6 points per game.
I don't think anyone can overlook Iowa this year. The Hawkeyes are going to be much better than expected and have the potential to pull off an upset or two during the season that could shape the race for the conference championship.
I like the way the Hawkeyes have leaned on different players each night. Roy Devyn Marble is playing up to his potential so far, averaging 14.4 points per outing, but players such as Josh Oglesby, Aaron White and Mike Gesell have helped carry the load offensively for a team that has a lot of potential.
No. 8 Northwestern Wildcats
Northwestern is 4-0 and is off to the strong start it needed if it wants to set the stage for a run at its first ever berth to the NCAA tournament.Everyone knew Drew Crawford was going to be a star for the Wildcats, and he has done a good job, averaging 12.5 points 4.3 rebounds per outing.
But the big key to the early success has been the play of Reggie Hearn, a former walk-on who leads the team in scoring at 14.5 points per game. Hearn is shooting 61 percent from the field and has drilled 12 treys. He has already led the team in scoring twice.
The Wildcats have done a good job of shooting as team, knocking down 49.1 percent of their shots, and if that trend continues, Northwestern will be a tough out for any opponent going forward.
No. 7 Illinois Fighting Illini
Illinois is 5-0 and seems to have a wave of momentum on its side. It came through with an impressive 94-64 win over USC at the Maui Invitational and followed it up with an 84-61 win over Chaminade.
The Illini is playing well on the defensive end of the floor, forcing 16.2 turnovers per outing, and it has gotten the boost it has needed from veteran Brandon Paul. Paul has hit the 20-point mark three times this season and is showing no signs of slowing down. He has also been tough on the boards, grabbing 4.4 per outing.
Seven players are scoring at least five points per game and the effort Illinois has given on defense has been solid. If Illinois can keep this going, it has a chance to be a surprise contender in the league.
No. 6 Wisconsin Badgers
The only loss for the Wisconsin Badgers (3-1) is a setback to a very good Florida team.
The Badgers have been solid on defense with the exception of the game against the Gators, holding their other three opponents to less than 50 points. That isn't easy to do, and it's the reason I think the Badgers are still a legit contender for the conference title.
Jared Berggren, Ben Brust and Sam Dekker have been vital to the Badgers offensively, and while they will need to continue to play at a high level, defense is what the Badgers will hang their hats on when it comes to winning games.
No.5 Michigan State Spartans
Michigan State has played well since dropping the opener to Connecticut and that really shouldn't surprise anyone because the Spartans (3-1) are a model of consistency.
They slipped past Boise State 74-70 on Tuesday night and continue to get big efforts from Keith Appling. Appling has led the Spartans in scoring three times, including a 22-point performance against Boise State.
Two things stand out about the Spartans. They have played well on defense, giving up 60.2 points per outing, and they have attacked the glass, pulling down 37 rebounds per game while holding opponents to 29.3 rebounds per game. Both aspects of the game will continue to play a big role in the success of the Spartans this season.
No. 4 Minnesota Golden Gophers
I could easily put Michigan State in fourth place in my rankings but the Golden Gophers have been impressive during their 4-0 start, especially on defense.
Minnesota is allowing only 48 points per game. That is an impressive stat regardless of who you are playing against.
The Golden Gophers have forced 66 turnovers but their rebounding numbers have been sensational. They are grabbing 44.8 boards per game while opponents have been limited to 31 rebounds per game. It's going to be tough for any team to beat Minnesota if it doesn't do a good job battling for rebounds.
Austin Hollins and Rodney Williams have fueled the offense, with each averaging 14.5 points per game, but if there is one thing the Golden Gophers need to clean up it is turnovers. They have turned the ball over 63 times and that will have to change if they want to be successful in Big Ten play.
No. 3 Michigan Wolverines
The Michigan Wolverines have taken care of business so far, starting the year at 3-0.
Tim Hardaway Jr. has led the team in scoring twice and is averaging 17.3 points per game. Trey Burke has played at a high level as well, pouring in 18.3 points per outing. Those two make a formidable one-two punch for a Michigan team that is cranking out 89.3 points per game.
Opponents are going to have to score a lot of points if they want to keep up with the Wolverines, but even that is easier said than done because Michigan is giving up only 54.3 points per outing.
I do think the Wolverines are a top three team in the conference, but we won't really know that for sure until they start playing against tougher competition down the road.
No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State is off to a 3-0 start and still right behind Indiana in the power rankings. The Buckeyes have looked good in all three wins and the play of Deshaun Thomas has been impressive. He has scored 25 and 31 points, respectively, in his last two games and has done a good job of taking on a leadership role.
The Buckeyes have gotten the job done with great defense, holding opponents to 61.3 points per outing and forcing 13.3 turnovers per outing.
One of the other keys to their success has been their ability to share the basketball. Ohio State is averaging 13.7 assists per games. Unselfish play will lead to a lot of wins for a team.
No. 1 Indiana Hoosiers
Indiana has done nothing to lose its hold on the top spot. The 5-0 Hoosiers were pushed to overtime against Georgetown in a classic game Tuesday night but made the big plays in OT to get the job done. Good teams always find a way to do that, and the Hoosiers are clearly deserving of their top ranking so far.
They have utilized their weapons successfully as four players are averaging in double figures, including Cody Zeller (15.2 points per game) and they have shot the ball extremely well, knocking down 50.6 percent of their shots from the floor.
Combine that shooting with a strong defensive effort that is allowing only 57 points per outing and it's no surprise that the Hoosiers are still perfect and still No. 1.
Predicting Nebraska's Key Stat Leaders For 2014-15
Expectations are sky-high for coach Tim Miles and the Nebraska Cornhuskers heading into 2014-15. Here are some predictions for the Cornhuskers' statistical leaders this season. Read More