The effects of a less-than-stellar weekend for the Big 10 conference in men’s basketball aren’t completely being felt in the new AP poll that came out this morning.
Last week, the Big 10 had three teams in the top five (no. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes, no. 4 Wisconsin Badgers and no. 5 Michigan State Spartans) and the no. 23 Iowa Hawkeyes to make for one-third of the conference being listed in the rankings. The Michigan Wolverines and Indiana Hoosiers were listed in the “also receiving votes” category, meaning that the Big 10 was a few games away from having nearly half of the conference ranked.
Then, 10 of the conference’s teams went 4-6 in non-conference games between last Friday and Saturday. The Hawkeyes got the losing started on Friday night with an 85-82 loss at the no. 17 Iowa State Cyclones. The Wolverines started Saturday off on a similar note, dropping a home game to the no. 1 Arizona Wildcats. Other losses included the Penn State Nittany Lions in overtime against the Princeton Tigers, Indiana at home to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the Purdue Boilermakers at the Butler Bulldogs and the Illinois Fighting Illini at the no. 15 Oregon Ducks.
Fortunately for the Big 1o, the Buckeyes, Badgers and Spartans all won, and the conference kept its claim to having three of the nation’s top five. Iowa’s loss dropped them two spots to no. 25, but barely above the UCLA Bruins, who trail the Hawkeyes by just three points in the poll. Because of their losses, Indiana and Michigan are no longer listed in the “also receiving votes” category.
Opportunities for the conference’s teams to move up are limited this week. Tomorrow night brings a matchup between the No. 16 Florida Gators in Tennessee to take on the No. 15 Memphis Tigers. Saturday features another game between ranked teams, the No. 7 Oklahoma State Cowboys at the No. 20 Colorado Buffaloes. Those are the only games between ranked teams this week.
The best opportunity for a Big 10 team to make a statement this week is on Saturday, when the Illini will meet the No. 23 Missouri Tigers on a neutral court in St. Louis. All of the conference’s other games will go mostly unnoticed unless one of the Big 10’s top three teams gets upset.
While the Big 10 is hoping for a better week as a whole, there probably won’t be much movement again in next week’s poll for the conference’s teams. Many voters seem to be waiting until conference play begins around the nation to decide on a more firm basis who the best 25 teams in the nation are.