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Big Ten Power Rankings Week 8- The Big Ten is Confusing

Indiana Head Coach Archie Miller looks on in confidence towards the Hoosier offense. (Mark Timko/HN)

The bottom of the conference continues to feast on themselves and get blown out by others. The middle of the Big Ten continues to be a confusing mess. The top of the conference just shifted around after this weeks Ohio State-Purdue and Michigan State-Purdue games. Ranking the Big Ten is like trying to do organic chemistry or calculus. It’s not easy.

So here’s how I see things stacking up right now in the Big Ten.

T11. Iowa (12-15, 3-11)

Last Week: 96-93 LOSS vs Michigan State; 82-64 LOSS at Ohio State

Previous Ranking: T13

T11. Rutgers (12-15, 2-12)

Last Week: 65-43 LOSS vs Indiana; 67-55 at Nebraska

Previous Ranking: T13

T11. Illinois (12-14, 2-11)

Last Week: 78-69 LOSS vs Wisconsin; 74-52 LOSS vs Penn State

Previous Ranking: T11

T11. Minnesota (14-13, 3-11)

Last Week: 91-85 LOSS vs Nebraska; 80-56 LOSS at Indiana

Previous Ranking: T10

Out of these four teams, none of them deserve to not to be last in the conference. They’ve all beaten each other. Here’s the craziness of this glob of four teams.

Iowa beat Illinois and Minnesota. Rutgers beat Iowa. Illinois beat Rutgers. Minnesota beat Illinois and Rutgers.

Try sorting that out. I don’t want to. That’s why they are all tied for last in the conference in my mind.

Also, these four teams would, as of right now, have to play on Wednesday of the conference tournament.

10. Wisconsin (11-16, 4-10)

Last Week: 78-69 WIN at Illinois; 83-72 LOSS vs Michigan

Wisconsin is lucky they aren’t in that group above. They have lost to Rutgers and Iowa, but have beaten Illinois twice, including this week on the road. They’re realistically the best team from that group because they have Ethan Happ and the others don’t, so they belong at No. 10. Happ went for 27 points, six rebounds and eight assists in their win over Illinois. He also shot 12-for-20 from the field. Brevin Pritzl is also back to his old form. He had 15 points at Illinois and 13 vs Michigan.

Previous Ranking: T10

9. Northwestern (15-11, 6-7)

Last Week: 61-52 WIN vs Michigan; 73-57 LOSS at Maryland

After the win over Michigan, I tried to map out a scenario that Northwestern squeaked into the tournament. Of course, that required winning out. So the loss at Maryland this weekend killed any of those hopes Wildcats fans may have had after a recent stretch of success. The Wildcats have four starters averaging double figure points per game, but they don’t have a bench that can contribute, which makes things tough when any of those four have off nights.

Previous Ranking: T7

8. Maryland (17-10, 6-8)

Last Week: 74-70 LOSS at Penn State; 73-57 WIN vs Northwestern

Maryland had great balance in Happy Valley, with five players scoring 10 or more points. The issue was none of these players could guard Lamar Stevens, who shot 10-of-12 from the floor for 25 points, leading Penn State to the win. I still would have liked to have seen this team finish the season with Justin Jackson. He is such a big loss for a team that had tournament aspirations heading into Big Ten play. He averaged 10.4 points per game last season and was already averaging 9.8 this season while battling continuous injuries throughout the season.

Previous Ranking: T7

7. Indiana (14-12, 7-7)

Last Week: 65-43 WIN at Rutgers; 80-56 WIN vs Minnesota

For the first time in a long time, there aren’t any losses on Indiana’s slate this week. Granted, they played Rutgers (on short rest) and a decimated Minnesota team that had to play without Amir Coffey and Dupree McBrayer Friday night. However, that was one of the best games IU has played as a team, with 21 assists on 30 field goals (70-percent). The emergence of Devonte Green has come a little late for the Hoosiers to make an NCAA run, but it is promising for the future of the point guard position at IU.

Previous Ranking: T7

6. Penn State (18-9, 8-6)

Last Week: 74-70 WIN vs Maryland; 74-52 WIN at Illinois

Good week for Penn State, but that could realistically be their last win of the season. Their remaining schedule is the toughest in the conference.

vs Ohio State, at Purdue, vs Michigan, at Nebraska

While it won’t be easy, it does set them up for a crazy run that would include some really good wins and quickly jolt them back into NCAA consideration. But I think they may need to win out. Also, shoutout to Lamar Stevens, who as mentioned earlier, went for 25 points on 10-of-12 shooting in their win over Maryland last week.

Previous Ranking: 6

5. Michigan (20-7, 9-5)

Last Week: 61-52 LOSS at Northwestern; 83-72 WIN at Wisconsin

Previous Ranking: T4

4. Nebraska (19-8, 10-4)

Last Week: 91-85 WIN at Minnesota; 67-55 WIN vs Rutgers

The battle for the double-bye in the Big Ten tournament. Nebraska has the head-to-head with their 72-52 win over Michigan earlier in the season. I wouldn’t expect them to relinquish the fourth spot, with Maryland, Illinois, Indiana and Penn State on the schedule, with Illinois being the only road game.

Michigan bounced back with a good road win at Wisconsin, their fourth true-road win of the season. However, the disappointing loss to Northwestern could have ended their chance at the double-bye in the tournament. This coming weekend will be a huge game for Michigan and the Big Ten when Ohio State comes to town. It’s a revenge game for the Wolverines after surrendering a double-digit lead at Ohio State earlier this season.

Previous Ranking: T4

3. Purdue (23-4, 12-2)

Last Week: 64-63 LOSS vs Ohio State; 68-65 LOSS at Michigan State

Previous Ranking: 1

2. Ohio State (22-5, 13-1)

Last Week: 64-63 WIN at Purdue; 82-64 WIN vs Iowa

Previous Ranking: 3

1. Michigan State (24-3, 12-2)

Last Week: 96-93 WIN at Iowa; 68-65 WIN vs Purdue

Previous Ranking: 2

Alright time to dissect the top 3. The committee made quite the statement putting Purdue on the one line and Michigan State on the 3 and Ohio State on the 4, even though Purdue just lost to both MSU and OSU this week.

Purdue is still a good team. Let’s get that out there right away. Two one-possession losses to the top two teams in the conference isn’t season-ending. It does, however, eliminate them from winning the Big Ten, barring a miracle.

Ohio State controls its own destiny and more. With the win over MSU earlier in January, the Buckeyes essentially have a two-game lead over both Purdue and MSU. However, they do still go to Penn State and Michigan this week, and then head to Bloomington to finish the season in two weeks.

Michigan State is my number one team because they have the most talent in the Big Ten. Ohio State may have the best player, and Purdue may have the best team, but Michigan State has the most talent. Any given night, Bridges or Jackson or Ward or Winston could go off. And it’s scary. Bridges stepped up and knocked down the biggest shot of the season for Michigan State this past weekend. And while they’ve struggled a little lately, they’ve now won eight in a row and are in a good spot to win the conference with a few slip-ups from Ohio State down the stretch.

What does all this mean? The Big Ten tournament will be a lot of fun.

Austin Render

I am a freshman from Fort Wayne, Indiana majoring in Sports Media. I work for IUSTV Sports, where I report on IU field hockey, women's basketball and baseball. I also call IU men's basketball games on WIUX Student Radio. You can reach me at austinrender99@gmail.com and you can follow me on Twitter @austinrender.

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