Michigan continues to lead the way but the matchup between Iowa and Illinois for second place will be a great matchup for some Friday night basketball.
1. Michigan (13-1, 8-1 in conference)
Michigan has looked to be a step ahead of the rest of the conference. Outside the hiccup at Minnesota, they’ve won seven straight games by double digit points. They moved up to #4 in the rankings despite announcing that they would be taking a two week pause due to COVID spreading at a fast rate around campus. Prior to going on break, Hunter Dickenson had been playing a pretty quiet three games. The freshman phenom had scored double digit points in each of the first eleven games but failed to reach ten in any of the last three. He’s also had season highs in turnovers in two of the three games. Hopefully he is able to stay healthy and can get back on track when they start playing again. The college basketball season can be a long grind that is hard for freshman to handle.
2. Iowa (12-3, 6-2 in conference)
The Hawkeyes had won five straight prior to losing to Indiana last week. One thing that has proven true is when Iowa scores, they are very hard to beat. But the second they struggle to put the ball in the basket, the whole game changes. In the loss to Indiana, the Hawkeyes failed to score on eighteen straight possessions. Jordan Bohannon has been very streaky at times this year and went ice cold shooting 0-8 from three. Too many of the threes that were taken were contested shots and that needs to improve before they take on Illinois this weekend.
3. Ohio State (13-4, 7-4 in conference)
Winners of five of their last six, the Buckeyes have taken down three ranked teams over that time. They’ve shown the ability to make shots from different spots on the court. The last two against Penn State were a lot of mid range jumpers which have seemed to disappear from the game. E.J. Liddell has been tearing it up and can be extremely physical with any of the bigs in this league. He can make the shots when he goes to the line and shot a very impressive 10 of 10 last night against Penn State.
4. Wisconsin (13-4, 7-3 in conference)
Wisconsin turned it around after losing to Ohio State and avenged the Maryland loss earlier in the season with the win last night. D’Mitrik Trice has been asking for help from his bigs for weeks now and finally got some help from Micah Potter. He scored 23 points and more importantly grabbed 12 rebounds. This team plays defense at a high level but they need to get on the boards if they want to be a title contender.
5. Illinois (10-5, 6-3 in conference)
I really don’t know what to say about this team. The duo of Dosunmu and Cockburn just hasn’t been enough to carry the load. Iowa’s defense is near the bottom of the league so things should be a little easier for the likes of Trent Frazier, Adam Miller, and Andre Curbelo. I’m really looking forward to the matchup between Luka Garza and Kofi Cockburn.
6. Michigan State (8-4, 2-4 in conference)
Michigan State has been on pause since January 8th but are set to return tonight against Rutgers. They think the COVID issues are behind them but as we’ve seen from other teams around the country, the first few games back are tough to handle. Hopefully they can navigate their way to staying in contention near the top of the Big Ten.
7. Minnesota (11-5, 4-5 in conference)
Minnesota has played at a high level despite being under .500 in the conference through nine games. Things get a lot easier for them playing the bottom half of the conference but they have to take care of business. They lost a winnable game against Maryland and only managed 49 points. Marcus Carr is the only one that could get anything going he had 25 or 51% of the team’s points. The rest of the team shot under 19% from the field.
8. Purdue (11-6, 6-4 in conference)
Purdue has been one of the most surprising and most improved teams in the country. No one expected them to be at 6-4 in the conference with wins over ranked teams like Ohio State (twice) and Michigan State. Their losses have come to the top teams in the league. This is a young team that can develop back into the top tier in the conference within the next few years.
9. Indiana (9-7, 4-5 in conference)
I’m still going to give the nod to Indiana the nod over Rutgers despite losing to them over the weekend. As mentioned earlier, the Hooisers upset #4 Iowa by 12 last week. Fran McCaffery noted that Indiana was the much tougher team against Iowa. Trayce Jackson-Davis led the Hoosiers with 23 points despite only playing 28 minutes due to foul trouble. The real key to this team is when Rob Phinisee contributes on the offensive end.
10. Rutgers (8-6, 4-6 in conference)
The Scarlet Knights were able to slow the skid with a win to end their five game losing streak. Rutgers had never beaten Indiana in Bloomington so Sunday was a big win for the program. Geo Baker finally came out of witness protection program, scoring 19 points and hitting four huge threes in the win.
11. Maryland (9-8, 3-7 in conference)
Maryland has most of their tough games out of the way. They only have two games left against ranked opponents. If they can rack up some wins, they could find their way into the tournament. Their three conference wins are all against ranked opponents which can help their resume.
13. Penn State (5-7, 2-6 in conference)
The Nittany Lions won two straight before losing to Ohio State last night. They can put up some points so these next two games against Wisconsin are going to be interesting.
12. Northwestern (6-8, 3-7 in conference)
The upset wins over Michigan State and Ohio State seem like a decade ago. Northwestern has now lost seven straight games.
14. Nebraska (4-8, 0-5 in conference)
Nebraska is still without a win but haven’t played since the 10th. They’ll be back in action next week.