Seven Stars From the Past Week:
Carsen Edwards, Purdue
Joe Wieskamp, Iowa
Ethan Happ, Wisconsin
Zavier Simpson, Michigan
Kaleb Wesson, Ohio State
Amir Coffey, Minnesota
De’Ron Davis, Indiana
Five Best Games to Watch This Week:
Maryland At Nebraska, Wednesday, 7:00 EST, BTN
Wisconsin at Minnesota, Wednesday, 9:00 EST, BTN
Iowa at Indiana, Thursday, 9:00 EST, ESPN
Wisconsin at Michigan, Saturday, Noon EST, FOX
Ohio State at Indiana, Sunday, 1:00 EST, CBS
1. Michigan (NET: 5)
It’s hard not to be repetitive here, but the defense continues to be elite and the offense continues to be a red flag that only gets brighter every week. It’s easy to keep faith that things will improve on that end because John Beilein is the coach, but he can’t make shots for them.
It feels like a long time ago that the Wolverines were making 24-48 threes in back-to-back games against North Carolina and Purdue. They went 8-33 on Friday night against an Iowa team that might have the worst defense in the league and they could only manage 59 points. They’ve only hit 31.5% in league play, good for 10th in the Big Ten.
But Michigan holds on to the top spot because that defense is still great enough to beat good teams despite poor offensive performances. And they’re still good enough to win the league, but the shooting will have to improve if the Wolverines are going to be in the national title hunt.
This week: at Rutgers, home for Wisconsin
2. Purdue (NET: 12)
It’s hard to say Purdue played particularly well this week. After all, they gave up 90 points to one of the worst offenses in the league and they were down 13 in the second half at home against a team they were expected to beat somewhat easily.
But they ended up winning both games, making it seven straight and 10 of their last 11. More importantly, they played their best when the situation demanded it and that’s the opposite of what you saw from the Boilers in November and December. They won one game with stellar guard play and the other with stellar big man play.
It’s hard to believe that a team that was 6-5 less than two months ago is now tied for the Big Ten lead more than halfway through the race, but here we are.
This week: home for Nebraska
3. Michigan State (NET: 8)
It’s hard to find a way to comprehend what happened Saturday night against IU, who was largely Juwan Morgan-less and was also coming in on a seven-game skid. There were a couple of random “this is a single college basketball game, anything can happen” things that happened in the game. Most notably, the Spartans went 8-22 from the FT line and IU went 10-20 from three, the first time they’ve hit 10 threes since Nov. 23 against UC Davis.
But giving up 20 offensive rebounds is pretty avoidable and pretty shocking after Tom Izzo called out his big guys following the Purdue loss. The leading defensive rebounder for the Spartans was…point guard Cassius Winston.
This week: at Illinois, home for Minnesota
4. Wisconsin (NET: 11)
The Badgers are in fourth in both the power rankings and standings, but no one has been better over the last couple of weeks. They continue to shut down everyone they play and they’ve established a pretty reputable Big Three in the scoring department with Happ, Brad Davison, and D’Mitrik Trice, with the occasional Nate Reuvers outburst.
Big week for the Badgers coming up.
This week: at Minnesota and Michigan
5. Iowa (NET: 22)
The Hawkeyes won the week by bringing their A+ game Friday night against Michigan. It was by far their best performance defensively of the year. And considering how good the Wolverine defense has been, one of their better offensive showings, as well.
The star of the show was freshman Joe Wieskamp. Wieskamp is a player to keep an eye on down the stretch of the season. He seems to be fine deferring to his older teammates most of the time, but he’s had some big games lately and he’s one of the most efficient players in the league.
This week: at Indiana, home for Northwestern
6. Maryland (NET: 24)
The Terps have hit a bit of a lull in their season, but certainly played much better this week. It’s not a coincidence that they’ve lost three of four and it’s been the lowest four-game scoring stretch of the season for Anthony Cowan.
This is a crucial four games coming up for them. KenPom gives them less than a 50% chance of winning each of them. The Illinois loss set them back by maybe a seed line or two in the NCAA Tournament. While the schedule is tough, it also presents them some opportunities to get back that ground with a good couple of weeks.
This week: at Nebraska
7. Minnesota (NET: 51)
The Gophers missed a big opportunity on Sunday, letting a 13-point second half lead slip away at Purdue. That’s the bad news. The good news is that they’ll have a lot more opportunities and they’re playing well enough right now to win a few of them and secure their NCAA Tournament bid. They’re starting to get more consistency out of freshmen Oturu and Kalscheur, but need to get Dupree McBrayer going again if they’re going to reach their ceiling.
This week: home for Wisconsin, at Michigan State
8. Ohio State (NET: 35)
The biggest news of the week for the Buckeyes was that Kaleb Wesson went a whole game without getting into foul trouble. Not coincidentally, Wesson scored 27 points in that game.
This week: home for Penn State, at Indiana
9. Northwestern (NET: 58)
They got absolutely killed at Maryland.
This week: home for Penn State, at Iowa
10. Illinois (NET: 95)
What a wild season for Kipper Nichols so far. Scored in double figures in 7 of their first 11 games, slowly tapered off, didn’t score for five straight games, and then scored 18 points on 7-for-8 shooting on Saturday.
This week: home for Michigan State and Rutgers
11. Rutgers (NET: 119)
Rutgers at the RAC is pretty scary. Rutgers on the road has not been.
This week: Michigan at home, Illinois on the road
12. Indiana (NET: 44)
I had absolutely no idea what to do with Indiana. Obviously the MSU win was massive, but that still only improved them to 1-7 in their last eight. They also lost to Rutgers this week. We’ll see if the win in East Lansing is a sign that they’ve got the ship turned back around or if it was just an anomaly. If they get a couple wins this week, they’ll move up in a hurry.
This week: home for Iowa and Ohio State
13. Nebraska (NET: 33)
This could be too harsh, but I’m projecting a bit going forward with how they’ve looked without Copeland. They’ve looked bad.
This week: home for Maryland, at Purdue
14. Penn State (NET: 85)
Things are getting pretty cruel for the Nittany Lions.
This week: at Northwestern and Ohio State