We’re now through one week of Big Ten play and 11 teams have already lost at least one game. I thought about actually power ranking everyone and putting Wisconsin at #1, Rutgers at #14 and everyone else at T-2, but there’s a very real chance the Badgers go 0-2 next week and Rutgers will probably do something stupid like win at Michigan State because the Spartans actually looked good this week.
Instead I’m just going to rank them based on their very early conference standings and explain why each of them STINKS.
While the bottom of the league has risen this year from last year, the top has fallen back, which has created one big mess of mediocrity right now.
Heading into the season, the Top 5 teams in the league based on KenPom projections were all in the Top 16 and had an average ranking of 13.2. Now, not even two full months later and the current Top 5 has two teams in the Top 16 and an average ranking of 24.2.
It’s not a good look. Sure, it makes for a more competitive conference season and a sense of unpredictability every night that’s exciting, but it doesn’t bode well for when the conference hits the NCAA Tournament. The lack of wins over other high-major opponents doesn’t help either.
Five Stars of the Past Week:
Nick Ward, Michigan State – averaged 16.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks in two wins
Glynn Watson, Nebraska – averaged 21.5 points and 4.0 steals in two wins
Scottie Lindsey, Northwestern – scored 31 points on 9-14 shooting (5-8 from 3P) and grabbed 5 rebounds in win at Penn State
Nate Mason, Minnesota – averaged 24.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 7.5 assists in two games
DJ Wilson, Michigan – career highs of 28 points, 14 rebounds, 6 assists, and 4 three-pointers made in OT loss to Iowa
Five Best Games to Watch This Week:
Wisconsin at Indiana, Tuesday, 7:00 pm EST, ESPN
Purdue at Ohio State, Thursday, 7:00 pm EST, ESPN
Minnesota at Northwestern, Thursday, 9:00 pm EST, ESPNU
Maryland at Michigan, Saturday, 3:15 pm EST, ESPN2
Wisconsin at Purdue, Sunday, Time TBD, CBS
Conference Standings and Why Everyone Stinks
T-1. Michigan State (KenPom: 47)
The Spartans stink because they’re still really young and they still lack quality frontcourt depth, which isn’t changing. They had a great week this week, but you still have to be skeptical. They had a great run there around Thanksgiving and then ended up playing poorly the next couple weeks against bad teams at home.
This week: Rutgers at home, Penn State on the road
T-1. Nebraska (KenPom: 81)
Nebraska stinks because they’re the team that went 6-6 in the non-conference and lost to Gardner-Webb at home. As much as I like Ed Morrow, him and Michael Jacobson aren’t exactly the most fearsome guys down low. With Anton Gill now out for the season, their bench went from poor to very poor. Horne, Roby, and Tshimanga all show flashes, but not on a consistent enough basis. A nice couple wins for the Huskers this week, but they still stink.
This week: Iowa and Northwestern at home
3. Wisconsin (KenPom: 11)
Wisconsin stinks because they may not have beaten anyone that’s going to make the NCAA Tournament yet. They also still aren’t great at the shooting thing. We’ll see just how much they stink this week.
This week: at Indiana and Purdue
T-4. Purdue (KenPom: 14)
Purdue stinks because they’re always due to lose a game or two they shouldn’t in B1G play and they cost themselves a high seed in the tournament. They also stink because they struggle with athletic guards that drive their nuts off. I’m sure it won’t come up in March at all. Also, Isaac Haas stinks, but BOY DOES HE HAVE SOME BIG SHOES!
This week: at Ohio State and home for Wisconsin
T-4. Minnesota (KenPom: 40)
Minnesota stinks because their halfcourt offense stinks. They did well against Purdue because they could just ball screen them to death, but that didn’t work as well against MSU’s athletic guards and that’s why the Gophers lost. Also helping Minnesota against Purdue: Eric Curry and Jordan Murphy combined to go 4-9 from three. Coming in they were 2-18. So the official ruling on the halfcourt offense is that it still stinks.
This week: at Northwestern, home for Ohio State
T-4. Northwestern (KenPom: 43)
Northwestern stinks because their destiny is to fail and lose some stupid game in heartbreaking fashion. They also stink because they’re fairly mediocre at a lot of things.
This week: home for Minnesota, at Nebraska
T-4. Maryland (KenPom: 60)
Maryland stinks because the schedule is set up so perfectly for them to actually contend for the conference title, but they refuse to win easily. Sunday it cost them when they gave up a 14-0 run to end the game at home against Nebrasketball. They also stink because their best offense is getting fouled. And finally, they stink because Michal Cekovsky can’t stay healthy.
This week: at Michigan
T-4. Illinois (KenPom: 70)
Illinois stinks because they can’t decide if they want to be good or bad. They also stink because they’re basically middle-of-the-road at every single thing. They have no identity. And they really stink because they’re probably not going to make the tournament and they are going to completely waste Malcolm Hill’s career.
This week: at Indiana
T-4. Iowa (KenPom: 75)
Iowa stinks because their defense stinks. Never forget that they gave up 98 points to Nebraska Omaha. They also stink because they make Peter Jok score all the points and everyone else’s stinkiness is going to prevent Jok from making a run at the POTY crown.
This week: at Nebraska, home for Rutgers
T-4. Penn State (KenPom: 97)
Penn State stinks because they’re wildly inconsistent and their offense would be the worst in the conference if Rutgers didn’t exist. Anyone who loses by 19 at home to George Mason just stinks.
This week: at Michigan, home for Michigan State
T-11. Indiana (KenPom: 24)
Indiana stinks because they’ve now lost to Nebraska at home and Fort Wayne. They stink because they can’t stop turning it over and they treat defense as an optional task. They stink because it’s now January and their third best win is still Houston Baptist.
This week: home for Wisconsin and Illinois
T-11. Michigan (KenPom: 32)
Michigan stinks because their defense still stinks and they haven’t shown much improvement, if any, from last year despite returning almost all of their roster from last year. They stink because they couldn’t beat Iowa, even with DJ Wilson playing the game of his life.
This week: home for Penn State and Maryland
T-11. Ohio State (KenPom: 46)
Ohio State stinks because they are who we thought they were and not who we hoped they would be. They stink because they might miss the tournament for the second straight year with some of the best talent in the league.
This week: home for Purdue, at Minnesota
14. Rutgers (KenPom: 135)
Rutgers stinks because – although they are much improved – they’re still Rutgers.
This week: at Michigan State and Iowa