Big Ten Power Rankings: 2/3

Story posted February 3, 2014 in Sports, CommRadio by Jeff Jezewski and Michael Katz

1. Michigan (16-5, 8-1 Big Ten)

Last Week: (W) Purdue 75-66, (L) @ Indiana 63-52

This Week: Nebraska (11-9, 3-5), @ Iowa (17-5, 6-3)

Michigan managed to hang on to the top spot in this week’s rankings, but not because of how they performed. The Wolverines handled the Boilermakers, but dropped a game to Indiana, at Assembly Hall. Michigan State’s bad loss to Georgetown keeps Michigan atop the rankings, for now. Against Purdue, the Wolverines shot the ball lights out, firing a scorching 60.9 percent from the field, as a team. However, they couldn’t sustain their hot shooting, knocking down only 40 percent of their shots against the Hoosiers.

While a loss at Assembly Hall isn’t a bad one, Michigan can’t expect to take the Big Ten title performing like they did. The Wolverines’ best player, sophomore guard Nik Stauskas, was held to just six points against Indiana. The Wolverines and the Spartans are currently tied atop the conference with 8-1 records, in what is shaping up to be a great battle for the top spot. This week, Michigan takes on a surprising Nebraska team before heading on the road to face an extremely tough Iowa squad. Another performance like the one at Indiana could drop this team from the top spot. – Jeff Jezewski

2. Michigan State (19-3, 8-1 Big Ten)

Last Week: (W) @ Iowa 71-69 OT, (L) Georgetown 64-60

This Week: Penn State (12-10, 3-6), @Wisconsin (17-5, 4-5)

The Spartans had a chance to gain ground on Michigan in the power rankings, but were unable to do so, as they lost at home to Georgetown on Saturday in a non-conference affair. They also struggled early in the week on the road against Iowa, pulling out a two point overtime win over the Hawkeyes. The loss to Georgetown ended the Hoyas’ five-game losing streak, and marked the Spartans second loss in the last three games.

Forward Matt Costello played a huge role in the win over Iowa, with 11 points and 12 rebounds, and will need to continue that play this week if Adreian Payne is unable to return. Head coach Tom Izzo expects Payne to return Thursday, at home, against a suddenly hot Penn State team. On Sunday, they will go on the road to take on a stingy Wisconsin team at the Kohl Center. If Adreian Payne is to return, he will need to step up to restore consistency to the team that was the best in the Big Ten earlier this season. – Michael Katz

3. Iowa (17-5, 6-3 Big Ten)

Last Week: (L) Michigan State 71-69 (OT), (W) @ Illinois 81-74

This Week: Ohio State (17-5, 4-5), Michigan (16-5, 8-1)

Iowa came extremely close to taking over the top spot in the rankings, but dropped a tough contest to Michigan State, in overtime. The Hawkeyes couldn’t finish off the Spartans, despite Roy Devyn Marble’s best efforts. Marble, the senior guard, led the way with 21 points, but it wasn’t enough. Iowa closed out the week with a victory over a flailing Illinois team, behind another impressive performance from Marble.

After failing to secure the top spot, Iowa has another shot this week, with two huge contests. The Hawkeyes take on Ohio State and Michigan, in a week that could help decide the Big Ten champion. Luckily, Iowa gets both of these contests in the comforts of their home arena, where they have only lost once this season. With an undefeated week, Iowa could vault themselves to favorites in the Big Ten race. – Jeff Jezewski

4. Ohio State (17-5, 4-5 Big Ten)

Last Week: (L) Penn State 71-70 OT, (W) @Wisconsin 59-58

This Week: @ Iowa (17-5, 6-3), Purdue (13-9, 3-6)

Ohio State had a wild week. The Buckeyes lost a thriller in overtime to Penn State by one point, their first loss to the Nittany Lions in the Thad Matta era. In a huge game at Wisconsin, they got back on track with a one-point win over the 14th ranked Badgers, in a grueling affair. Aaron Craft’s clutch gene was useful once again, scoring all seven of his points in the final four minutes.

The Buckeyes have been dreadful since losing their first game, losing five of seven games since starting undefeated. The road win against a ranked Wisconsin team was big and should inspire better play from a capable team. The tough stretch continues this week, as they play another ranked team on the road against Iowa on Tuesday. Iowa beat Ohio State by 10 in Columbus, in early January. The Buckeyes get a home game against Purdue on Saturday, but they have not looked great against Big Ten teams who they should beat. – Michael Katz

5. Wisconsin (17-5, 4-5 Big Ten)

Last Week: (L) Northwestern 65-56, (L) Ohio State 59-58

This Week: @ Illinois (13-9, 2-7), Michigan State (19-3, 8-1)

Wisconsin’s body of work keeps them in the fifth slot of these rankings, for now. It has been a tale of two seasons for this Wisconsin team, starting 16-0 before losing five of their last six. The Badgers endured a dreadful week, losing twice, to Northwestern and Ohio State, at home. All the confidence the team had during their hot start has disappeared. Wisconsin shot just 26.3 percent from the field against the Wildcats, and let multiple opportunities slip away against the Buckeyes.

The Badgers need to turn things around quickly before they take a sharp drop in the rankings. A top five team earlier this season, Wisconsin must now get back above .500 in Big Ten play. This week, the Badgers head out to Champaign, to take on Illinois, before returning home to face Michigan State. With another loss this week, Wisconsin would continue their free-fall in the standings. - Jeff Jezewski

6. Northwestern (12-11, 5-5 Big Ten)

Last Week: (W) @ Wisconsin 65-56, (W) @ Minnesota 55-54

This Week: Nebraska (11-9, 3-5)

The Northwestern Wildcats are on a roll right now. Northwestern was perfect last week on the road. They upset the 14th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers in Madison, by nine points, and defeated Minnesota by one. After carrying a four-game losing streak into Big Ten play, the Wildcats have now won five of their last seven games and are the hottest team in the Big Ten outside of first place Michigan.

They get a bit of a break this week, as their only game is at home against Nebraska. The Huskers have been playing better lately and should not be looked past, but if Northwestern is able to win on Saturday, they will carry an enormous amount of momentum into East Lansing, for a huge matchup with Michigan State. – Michael Katz

7. Indiana (14-8, 4-5 Big Ten)

Last Week: (L) @ Nebraska 60-55, (W) Michigan 63-52

This Week: @ Minnesota (15-7, 4-5)

Another enigmatic Big Ten squad, the Hoosiers dropped a game to Nebraska before taking down conference leader, Michigan, on Sunday. While talented, Indiana has been too inconsistent this season, not being able to string together multiple complete games. Against Nebraska, the Hoosiers jumped out to a double-digit halftime lead before losing control. After Yogi Ferrell and Noah Vonleh, the team’s production hasn’t been consistent enough to become a threat.

The win over the Wolverines was a big one for Indiana, proving the Hoosiers could knock off a top opponent. Ferrell, the sophomore point guard, had a huge day against Michigan, scoring 27 points, his second highest total of the season. Indiana has just one game this week, but it will be a big one. On Saturday, the Hoosiers will head on the road to take on Minnesota, in what will be a defining game for both team’s seasons. – Jeff Jezewski

8. Minnesota (15-7, 4-5 Big Ten)

Last Week: (L) Northwestern 55-54

This Week: @ Purdue (13-9, 3-6), Indiana (14-8, 4-5)

Minnesota only played once last week, and lost at home by one, to a resilient Northwestern team. The Gophers are a tough team to judge, as their play has been so inconsistent. They have gone down to the wire with and beaten ranked teams like Ohio State and Wisconsin, but they have also lost games to teams they should beat like Nebraska and Northwestern.

The Gophers go on the road to Purdue to start the week. The Boilermakers are one of the worst teams in the Big Ten, but road games are never easy. On Saturday, they play at home against Indiana. The Hoosiers have been up and down this season just like Minnesota, and the Hollins brothers will need to continue to play well to carry the Gophers through the week. – Michael Katz

9. Nebraska (11-9, 3-5 Big Ten)

Last Week: (W) Indiana 60-55

This Week: @ Michigan (16-5, 8-1), @ Northwestern (12-11, 5-5)

Tim Miles’ squad picked up another huge win for the program, taking down Indiana, Thursday night. The Cornhuskers picked up their third Big Ten win, leaving them just two shy of matching last season’s total. Nebraska has been deadly at home this season, losing just one game, earlier this season against Michigan. The transfer from Texas Tech, Terran Petteway, is becoming a household name in the Big Ten. Petteway scored 18 against the Hoosiers, while shooting 70 percent.

This week will be huge for the Huskers, as they take on Michigan and Northwestern, both on the road. These road matchups will be a great opportunity for Nebraska to prove they should be considered a threat. Nebraska took Michigan down to the wire in the first game, but they haven’t been as successful on the road. The contest against Northwestern is an intriguing one, as both teams look to prove they belong in the Big Ten discussion. – Jeff Jezewski

10. Penn State (12-10, 3-6 Big Ten)

Last Week: (W) @ Ohio State 71-70 OT, (W) Purdue 79-68

This Week: @ Michigan State (19-3, 8-1), Illinois (13-9, 2-7)

Penn State needed a big week last week and performed well. They picked up by far their biggest win of the season in Columbus, defeating Ohio State in overtime behind an incredible performance from DJ Newbill. Newbill sunk a game-tying three to force overtime and then beat Aaron Craft with a crossover for a pull-up, game-winning jumper. Penn State returned home on Sunday, and beat Purdue by 11.

The Nittany Lions look for another road upset this week, as they take on Michigan State in East Lansing. They led the Spartans at halftime in the previous matchup, but were blown out in the second half. Spartans forward Adreian Payne is expected to return from injury for the game. After the matchup with Michigan State, the Nittany Lions will take on Illinois at home. Penn State has suddenly been making noise in the Big Ten after starting 0-6 in conference play. With much of the Big Ten playing inconsistent basketball, Penn State could make a move with a big week this week. – Michael Katz

11. Purdue (13-9, 3-6 Big Ten)

Last Week: (L) @ Michigan (75-66), (L) @ Penn State (79-68)

This Week: Minnesota (15-7, 4-5), @ Ohio State (17-5, 4-5)

Purdue has really struggled recently, losing twice this week to put them on a four-game losing skid. The Boilermakers dropped both contests, on the road, to Michigan and Penn State. Sophomore center, A.J. Hammons, has been solid, but hasn’t received help from his starting backcourt, recently. Against the Nittany Lions, Purdue turned the ball over 14 times and committed 29 personal fouls, a recipe for disaster.

The Boilermakers descent down the rankings may continue this week, when they take on Minnesota and Ohio State. Purdue lost to each school earlier this season, and two more losses would put them on a six-game losing streak. If the Boilermakers don’t turn things around quickly, they’ll find themselves at the bottom of the standings. – Jeff Jezewski

12. Illinois (13-9, 2-7 Big Ten)

Last Week: (L) Iowa 81-74

This Week: Wisconsin (17-5, 4-5), @ Penn State (12-10, 3-6)

The Illinois Fighting Illini have taken an absolute free fall after jumping into the top 25 in the polls. The Illini have now lost seven in a row, with the closest game being a six-point loss. Last week, they were beaten at home by Iowa.

Illinois will look to avoid further punishment this week, but it will be easier said than done. They take on a ranked Wisconsin team at home early in the week. Illinois’ seven game losing streak started with Wisconsin, as they were blown out 95-70. The Illini go on the road to end the week with a Sunday meeting in State College with a suddenly hot Penn State team. Illinois cannot afford another loss in Big Ten play, and a win in either game this week is crucial to stop the bleeding. – Michael Katz

Jeff Jezewski is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email jvj5228@psu.edu.

Michael Katz is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email mak5672@psu.edu.

 

About the Contributors

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Michael Katz

Junior / Broadcast Journalism

Michael is a Junior Broadcast Journalism major originally from the Washington DC area. He has done play by play and beat writing for various Penn State sports. He is a supporter of all Washington sports teams and hopes to host a sports radio show focusing on Washington teams in the future.

Jeff Jezewski's photo

Jeff Jezewski

Senior / Broadcast Journalism

Jeff Jezewski is a senior from Nanticoke, PA, aspiring to work professionally in the sports industry. Jeff is currently a production director for ComRadio while also serving as a play-by-play broadcaster and a producer.

In the summer of 2014, Jeff interned with Westwood One in New York City. Jeff served as a live event production intern in his time with the company. In the fall of 2014, he served as an intern for ESPN 1450 in State College.

In the summer of 2015, Jeff acted as a media relations intern for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.

You can contact Jeff at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or follow him on twitter @JeffJezewski13