1) Michigan 17-1 (4-1): At this point, I am starting to look like a Michigan fan. Somebody hook me up with some jean shorts, an Adidas t-shirt and a bad haircut. Attempted humor aside, this team is really good. Depth and interior play are the only real concerns with this team, but Mitch McGary is starting to come along nicely off the bench. While he hasn’t lived up to his 5 star ranking, he has been an active presence down low for the Wolverines. That being said, McLimans, Albrecht, LeVert, Vogrich, Bielfeldt and Horford are more worthless than Brady Hoke’s headset.
Since my last post, Michigan lost their first game of the season at OSU. For those UM fans new to the sport (92.47% of you), losses on the road in the Big Ten happen. Officiating is downright brutal in the conference, and you will just have to get used to that fact. That being said, Michigan bounced back with a huge road win at Minnesota (second best win of the early Big Ten season), holding onto the #1 spot in my incredibly pertinent B1G Power Rankings.
If you can’t tell by now, I am really cool because I intermittently use the B1G logo in my writing.
Previous ranking: 1
2) Indiana 15-2 (4-1): In my opinion, this team has the best shot at winning a title. IU has an outstanding starting 5 with a ton of talent coming off the bench. I honestly used to strongly dislike Victor Oladipo because he falls after every made basket, but he has turned into the best wing in the conference. Shut down defender with the ability to score in so many ways. He reminds me of a player that Tom Crean used to coach. Wrong link? Ok, moving on.
In the past two weeks, the Hoosiers beat Minnesota at home and then lost a shocker to the Badgers. At first glance, the most talented team in the country losing at home (especially at a place like Assembly Hall) to an unranked squad makes little sense. However, the fact that Tom Crean is 0-176 against Bo Ryan provides somewhat of an explanation. Regardless, Indiana is going to embarrass some really good teams in Bloomington this year.
Previous ranking: 2
3) Minnesota 15-3 (3-2): Among the contenders, Minnesota has played the toughest schedule (MSU, Northwestern, @Illinois, @Indiana, Michigan). While losing at IU is nothing to be ashamed of, getting beat soundly at home, even by a team as good as Michigan, raises some red flags. That being said, I still like this Gopher’s team.
Moving forward, it will be interesting to see what kind of production Minnesota gets off their bench. Hollins, Hollins, Hollins, Hollins, and Hollins make a great starting 5, but guys like Ahanmisi, Welch and Eliason aren’t the most formidable options off of the bench. I am not as sold on Minny as I was 2 weeks ago, but for now, I will keep them at #3.
Previous ranking: 3
4) Michigan State 15-3 (5-1): First of all, I should probably get this out in the open: I am a huge Michigan State fan. Hell, I have a shirtless poster of Goran Suton hanging in my bedroom. Ok, not really, but you get the point. The fact that I am a Spartan fan was bound to come out at some point, so I figured I would get it out of the way.
Moving on, I still haven’t made up my mind about the ceiling of this team. The pieces of the puzzle look outstanding at times, but there is little consistency on the offensive end. If you asked me who Michigan State’s best player was, I would have no idea what to say. Appling was the guy at the beginning of the year; Dawson shows flashes each and every game, and Nix and Payne alternate going into beast mode on a regular basis. The problem is none of them bring it each and every game.
Since my last post, MSU has looked relatively unimpressive but has won 5 straight games. Yesterday’s win against Ohio State, however, was a thing of beauty. It wasn’t the most glamorous basketball game, but it epitomizes what Big Ten basketball is all about. It was a battle of two incredible tough, defensive-minded teams playing in one of college basketball’s best venues. It was also another classic from the two teams who have carried the conference in the past 7-8 years.
Previous ranking: 4
5) Ohio State 13-4 (3-2): OSU’s 2 losses are just a casualty of a tough Big Ten conference. Losses at Michigan State and at Illinois are nothing to get down about, and their win against Michigan was huge. That being said, no one on that team is helping Deshaun Thomas. Against Michigan State, their second leading score was Lenzelle Smith with a whopping 6 points. OSU also has no inside scoring option, because Ravenel has no post moves and Amir Williams is softer than a Big 12 defense.
OSU is a another team who’s ceiling is tough to determine. They are one of the best defensive teams in the country, IMO, and they have the best scorer by a long shot. But, like I said, Thomas gets zero help on the offensive end of the court. Plus, OSU will always have the who-has-the-redder-face battle between Craft and Matta. That can’t help team chemistry.
Previous ranking: 6
6) Wisconsin 13-5 (4-1): I have been very harsh on Wisconsin as many of you know, but I will give them credit in this post. First of all, I can’t believe they beat IU in Bloomington. A game at Assembly Hall is the toughest game in the country this year, and I didn’t think Wisconsin could score with the Hoosiers. Give Traevon Jackson a ton of credit. Even though he seems like an incredible douche, he has taken over point guard responsibilities admirably. In addition, freshman Sam Dekker is a future pro, and Berggren, Bruesewitz, and Kaminski make a formidable front court. I thought Bo Ryan’s streak of finishing in the top 4 in the league would end this year, but who knows. They have looked good thus far.
I will end this blurb on Wisconsin with 2 questions:
1) What the fuck happened to Ryan Evans at the free throw line? He is shooting 39% from the stripe, and looks like this every time he steps up to the line: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXVp6aatWp0
2) Does Bo Ryan only recruit players that resemble the cast of American History X?
Previous ranking: 7
7) Iowa 13-5 (2-3): Since Marble has returned to the lineup, Iowa has picked up a pair of nice wins (@Northwesten by 20 and vs. Wisconsin). Plus, I can’t tell you how much I like Fran McCaffrey. Any coach who likes to run in the Big Ten is alright in my books. Bo Ryan, Todd Lickliter, Ed Dechelis, and Bruce Weber already tried their hardest to ruin the reputation of the Big Ten, so guys like McCaffrey are refreshing.
With regards to Iowa’s ceiling, I think they can be a tournament team. If they can get to 8 wins in the conference, and steal on in the BTT that should be enough. The 7th best team in this year’s B1G should make the tournament.
Previous ranking: 8
8) Illinois: 14-5 (1-4): What the hell, Illinois? Can someone please explain to me what happened since the last time you read this piece of shit blog? After an outstanding non-conference (Remember that amazing Gonzaga/Butler game last night? Yeah, well Illinois beat both of those teams: Gonzaga on the road and Butler at a neutral site), Illinois has been awful in Big Ten play. They got whipped at home by Minnesota and Northwestern (seriously….what the fuck), and when they visited the Kohl Center, they played worse than Manti Te’o in the championship game. Thought I was going to make a fake girlfriend joke? Well, you were wrong and I fucking hate you.
All of the unnecessary swear words aside I don’t know what to make of this team. They need to get to 8 wins in the conference to make the tournament, which is much easier said than done.
9) Purdue 10-8 (3-2): Purdue has a 3-2 record in the conference as a result of beating below average teams. Wins against the 8th, 11th, and 12th best teams in the conference aren’t going to impress me too much. Especially after such a horrible non-conference slate, including losses to East West North University, Bread and Butter State, and Tummy Tech. At the end of the day, this team will really struggle to make the NIT.
10) Northwestern 11-8 (2-4): Northwestern actually had a really impressive win at Illinois this week. I had completely written off the Wildcats after losing Drew Crawford, but they are usually good for a few upsets each year. However, Northwestern is another team that will struggle to make the NIT.
Previous ranking: 10
11) Nebraska 10-9 (1-5): Movin’ on up….in my power rankings. I have ripped Nebraska’s crustier-than-the-butt-of-the-bread program in previous threads, but I won’t do that in this blurb. Therefore, I will say two nice things about the Huskers:
1) I really like their coach, Tim Miles. He seems like a genuine guy, and a good young basketball mind.
2) Nebraska has really good fans. They nearly pack the house every game, even with a terrible team. There is something to be said for that.
Previous ranking: 12
12) Penn State 8-10 (0-6): Sticking with the concept of fan bases, PSU probably has the worst basketball following out of any major conference school. They have a shockingly huge arena, but they only get a few thousand for each game. It really does suck for them that they lost Tim Frazier for the season, but there is no excuse to not at least sell out half of the stadium for a few games.
On of a different note, make sure and watch a Penn State game or 2 this season if you want a good laugh. They do something that I have never seen in college basketball. Coach Chambers actually teaches his players to dive from behind to steal the ball on a break. Not only does this look like something a JV girls basketball team would do, but it will surely get someone injured at some point. Really strange.
Previous ranking: 11