Basketball

Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings (Jan 11)

Michigan State Forward Gabe Brown dribbles up the court against Nebraska Guard C.J. Wilcher. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

With the first couple weeks of conference play in the rearview mirror, it’s time to take a look at the Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings. Here is a look at where each Big Ten basketball team stands at the moment.

1. MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS

Head coach Tom Izzo’s willingness to play a difficult non-conference schedule once again has helped the Spartans. Although they suffered losses to Big 12 heavyweights Kansas and Baylor, Michigan State looks like a battle-tested team. Two things that the Spartans do well are passing and rebounding ranking in the top 35 nationally in both statistics. Senior Gabe Brown has stepped into a bigger role, leading the Spartans after being a role player in East Lansing his first 3 years on campus.

2. PURDUE BOILERMAKERS

While their 2-2 conference record is less than stellar, the Boilermakers have everything that it takes to make a great college team. Purdue scores 85.1 points per game (ranks 6th rationally) and averages 18.5 assists per game (ranks 10th nationally). With back to back wins over UNC and Villanova, Purdue has what it takes to make a deep postseason run.

3. WISCONSIN BADGERS

The Wisconsin Badgers have been the surprise story in the Big Ten this year. After being picked to finish 10th in their conference, the Badgers have shown they are a legit contender. Wisconsin currently sits at 4-1 in conference play. The Badgers star this season has been Johnny Davis. Davis leads the Badgers in points (22.3), rebounds (7.4), assists (2.6), and steals (1.4) per game.

4. ILLINOIS FIGHTING ILLINI

Even though the Fighting Illini struggled a bit to start the season, they seem to have found their rhythm. Dominant post player Kofi Cockburn has been sensational over the last two games for the Fighting Illini. Cockburn averaged 26 points and 14 rebounds over his last two games. Illinois ranks 7th in the nation with 43.9 rebounds per game, in large part thanks to Cockburn.

5. OHIO STATE BUCKEYES

The 2021-22 season has been a rollercoaster for the Buckeyes. After losing to the now 9-5 Florida Gators, the Buckeyes turned around and beat the number 1 ranked team at the time in the Duke Blue Devils. One of the best games in college basketball this week will be the Buckeyes playing at Wisconsin, This game should help sort out the top of the Big Ten.

6. INDIANA HOOSIERS

Trayce Jackson-Davis has lived up to the hype he was given before the season. Jackson-Davis has averaged 19.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game this season. His 3 blocks per game are 13th best in college basketball. Indiana beat both of their opponents last week by double digits, including a win against Ohio State.

7. IOWA HAWKEYES

A year after losing 2021 Naismith Player of the Year Luka Garza, Keegan Murray has shown he has what it takes to lead the Hawkeyes. Murray leads the nation with 24.7 points per game this season. After facing Purdue, Illinois, and Wisconsin early in conference play, Iowa’s schedule will ease up over the next couple weeks.

8. RUTGERS SCARLET KNIGHTS

Rutgers is another team that has both highs and lows this season. The Scarlett Knights lost three games in a row to Depaul, Lafayette, and Massacussetts earlier this season. After getting blown out against Illinois, Rutgers beat Purdue. Now on a 4 game winning streak, the unpredictable Scarlet Knights face Penn State Tuesday.

9. MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS

The Golden Gophers have exceeded the tiny expectations they had in the preseason. With a couple of nice wins in the non-conference against Pittsburgh and Mississippi State, the Golden Gophers have shown the potential to play good basketball.

10. PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS

After having to cancel 3 straight games due to Covid problems within the team, Penn State has returned from their temporary pause and played good basketball. The Nittany Lions are 2-1 in their last 3 games. The only loss coming in a closely contested game against Purdue.

11. MICHIGAN WOLVERINES

The disappointment of the season in the Big Ten has been Michigan. The preseason favorite in the Big Ten has struggled mightily this season, starting 7-6 overall. Things won’t get any easier for the Wolverines as they face Michigan State and Purdue this week.

12. NORTHWESTERN WILDCATS

For a sub-par team, the Wildcats pass the ball extremely well. Northwestern averages 18.5 assists per game, which is 11th in the nation. Northwestern will try to get their first signature win against Michigan State this week.

13. MARYLAND TERRAPINS

Following head coach Mark Turgeon stepping down in December, former Kansas great Danny Manning has taken over head coaching duties for the Terrapins. Maryland almost got their first big win of the year, narrowly losing to Wisconsin.

14. NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS

Nebraska is the clear-worst team in the Big Ten. At 6-10, the Cornhuskers have shown next to zero signs of life this season.

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