Month: January 2020

2019-20 Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 6

I finally decided to actually rank the teams myself now that we’re about halfway through and we’re starting to develop a hierarchy. KenPom ranking and current Bracket Matrix projections in parentheses.

1. Illinois (KP:  22 / BM: 6 seed)

It’s obviously somewhat controversial to put the Illini in pole position over Michigan State given that the Spartans beat Illinois by 20 in East Lansing. But since that game, Brad Underwood’s group have rattled off six straight wins and included in that stretch is road wins at Wisconsin, Purdue, and Michigan. The Illini will get their chance at retribution over the Spartans in a couple of weeks when MSU visits Champaign.

The Illini picked up two of those road wins this week and they did it with Alan Griffin playing all of three minutes. Griffin is one of the best players in the league that comes off the bench and on more than one occasion has been the catalyst for wins.

Once thought to be a lottery pick last year, Ayo Dosunmu had fallen off so much that it was a question of whether he would even be drafted were he to leave after this year. The consistency concerns are fair enough and the outside shooting hasn’t been ideal. But when Ayo is good, he’s one of the best. His last five games: 19.2 PPG, 54% FG, 40% 3FG, 95% FT, 5.0 RPG, and 5.4 APG.

This week: home for Minnesota, at Iowa

2. Michigan State (KP:  7 / BM: 3 seed)

Long thought to be the favorite in the conference, the questions were starting to mount on whether the Spartans were just like everybody else with their road struggles. They were beaten on the glass in Bloomington and were fortunate that the game was winnable late due to IU’s struggles from the free throw line.

But the Spartans showed a champion’s mindset by bouncing back with one of their best performances of the season on Sunday at Minnesota.

Tom Izzo sent a message to his team by giving freshmen Rocket Watts and Malik Hall the start in Minneapolis. Watts played his third straight game without a turnover and added 10 points. Hall went 3-3 from the field, 1-1 from the free throw line, and added six rebounds, three of them offensive. Aaron Henry didn’t get the start for the first time in 35 games and Marcus Bingham didn’t get his start for the first time in 15 games and only played five minutes.

We’ll see how all four guys respond going forward because you would think the lineup stays the same after the way they played Sunday.

This week: home for Northwestern, at Wisconsin

3. Maryland (KP:  10 / BM: 4 seed)

A potentially disastrous week turned in to a great one for the Terps. Maryland was down 15 at one point to Northwestern and down six with less than a minute-and-a-half to Indiana. They won both. On the road.

This is obviously a big coup for the Terps, but fantastic finishes are often necessary because of deficiencies elsewhere. For starters, you should probably never be down 15 to Northwestern if you want to be a real contender for the Big Ten title and you also don’t want to squander a 14-point lead at Indiana – one of the toughest venues to win in the league – and nearly blow the best road game Maryland has played this year.

But all the credit goes to Maryland for making the plays they had to and they scored two road wins and are now just one game outside of the conference lead about halfway through.

Jalen Smith kind of finished ugly with the postgame antics at IU, but it seemed out of character for him and it doesn’t take away that he was PHENOMENAL this week. He averaged 27 and 11 on 63/55/88 shooting and added three blocks and three steals.

This week: home for Iowa

4. Iowa (KP:  14 / BM: 5 seed)

Iowa held home court this week and – no surprise – it was on the back of Luka Garza, who had 49 points, 31 rebounds, and seven blocks in the two games this week.

That last figure – the blocks – is probably the biggest difference in Garza this year. In 22 Big Ten games played last year, Garza registered a block in only seven (7) of them. He’s now recorded a block in his last eight Big Ten games and averaged 2.0 in that stretch. He also hasn’t been charged for more than three fouls in the same stretch.

It was two home wins this week for the Hawkeyes and it wasn’t the prettiest, but they also came against two of the more defensive-minded teams in the league.

This week: at Maryland and home for Illinois

5. Rutgers (KP:  26 / BM: 7 seed)

Even though they lost at Iowa, the competitiveness of the Scarlet Knights once again showed that they’re not just a good team at the RAC. The middle of the second half was less than ideal at home against Nebraska, but Rutgers pulled it out late.

I guess in hindsight, the lull at home was fairly predictable on Saturday. Rutgers was ranked for the first time in forever, they played well Wednesday at Iowa and lost, and they were coming home – where they’ve dominated – and they were expected to roll, a position this program hasn’t been in very often. They got out to a sizable lead and relaxed a bit.

But even in the struggle to put Nebraska away, I came away impressed with Rutgers. Ron Harper scored 29 at Iowa and then could only muster two on Saturday. But Akwasi Yeboah – the Stony Brook transfer – stepped up with a season-high 20 points. Also, Geo Baker, who’s still trying to get right after his injury, hit the game-winner.

I’ve said it but I’ll say it again, Rutgers…RUTGERS…is one of the deepest teams in the league.

This week: home for Purdue, Michigan in NYC

6. Penn State (KP:  24 / BM: 6 seed)

Well, the only game of the week was a road win at Michigan in which they pretty much owned the game, so consider it a big success for the Nittany Lions.

Curtis Jones is far from a consistent player, but when he’s on, he wins games for Penn State and he did that up in Ann Arbor.

I don’t know how to evaluate Penn State offensively. Lamar Stevens and Myreon Jones are the consistent players in the rotation. Outside of that you just have a collection of guys that might score zero, might score 18, and not a lot of guys who give you a consistent 10.

They’re a hard read. Dangerous enough to beat anybody in the league and vulnerable enough to lose to anybody in the league, no matter the location.

This week: home for Indiana, at Nebraska

7. Indiana (KP:  38 / BM: 8 seed)

I’ll be honest, I couldn’t tell you what really happened at the end of that Maryland game that caused IU to let the lead slip away. News was just breaking that Kobe died and focus drifted away from the game. I’m sure whatever transpired was less than ideal.

What I do know is that the first 18.5 minutes of the second half were stellar for the Hoosiers after a lackluster first half. They also played a great game on Thursday at home against MSU.

It has to continue on the road, but you’ve started to see a bit of a transformation in the IU offense. After six straight games of not scoring a point per possession, they’ve now done it for three straight games. Obviously, freshman Jerome Hunter had his most productive game of the season against the Terps and it was a big boost. Armaan Franklin has also started to assert himself a bit after barely getting any minutes against OSU and Rutgers.

This week: at Penn State and Ohio State

8. Minnesota (KP:  39 / BM: 11 seed)

High peaks and low valleys for the Gophers this past week. On Thursday they scored a huge road win at Ohio State, who somehow still maintains high status in the NET rankings.

Unfortunately, Minnesota followed that up with a fairly non-competitive loss at home to Michigan State. It’s not a bad loss, but it’s certainly a missed opportunity for a team firmly on the bubble to pick up a Quad 1 win while in the friendly confines of Williams Arena.

The good thing for Minnesota is that they have two great players in Daniel Oturu and Marcus Carr. The bad thing for Minnesota is that those two are now responsible for nearly 60% of the team’s scoring in league play. Obviously, they’ve shown they can win some games like that, but you also saw Sunday what can happen when one of those guys doesn’t play well. Carr went 3-14 and only scored 11 points. Gabe Kalscheur stepped up with 15, but outside of Carr, Kalscheur, and Oturu the Gophers only got seven points from the rest of the roster.

This week: at Illinois

9. Purdue (KP:  23 / BM: 11 seed)

Purdue does this cool thing where they only play in 2OT games or participate in a blowout, where they’ve been on each end of the blowout on multiple occasions recently.

True to form, they were blown out early this week (again by Illinois) and then blew out Wisconsin at home Friday. It’s hard to know what to expect with them.

This week dealt two surprises. The negative: apparently simply playing in Mackey Arena no longer means Purdue is going to win the game, as was thoroughly proven by Illinois, who bullied the Boilers in their own building.

Friday’s positive surprise: maybe Evan Boudreaux is back? The Dartmouth transfer started his Purdue career off with double-figure scoring efforts in six of his first eight games. That quickly faded and Boudreaux registered 11 DNPs last year, most of them healthy scratches.

This year hasn’t gone much better for him until he was a spark against MSU, knocking down three three-pointers. And after the blowout to Illinois, Matt Painter rewarded Boudreaux for his practice effort with a start against Wisconsin. Boudreaux responded with his first double-double as a Boilermaker.

This week: at Rutgers and Northwestern

10. Wisconsin (KP:  32 / BM: 8 seed)

Hard to imagine a worse week for the Badgers. Here’s a recap:

  • Lost by 19 at Purdue, a game in which they trailed by as many as 28
  • Kobe King surprisingly didn’t make the trip to Iowa because of “personal reasons”
  • Those “personal reasons” sound like his personal issues with the team
  • Micah Potter may have a serious injury
  • Brad Davison may be addicted to nut punches and will probably be reviewed for a possible suspension
  • The latest Davison cup check came at the worst possible time in the game
  • The Badgers blew a 12-point lead with 7 minutes left and lost at Iowa

Not an ideal time to play the conference leader.

This week: home for Michigan State

11. Ohio State (KP:  13 / BM: 8 seed)

I’m still dumbfounded by the steep decline in the Buckeyes’ season, but at least they were able to pull things out at Northwestern thanks to Justin Ahrens and DJ Carton making some big plays off the bench, while some of the more experienced guys continue to struggle with inconsistency.

I’m still not convinced the ship is turned back around just yet. In their last eight games, the only victories are against the two bottom teams in these rankings.

This week: home for Indiana

12. Michigan (KP:  30 / BM: 9 seed)

Michigan might’ve had a worse week than Wisconsin. To recap:

  • They kind of got blown out at home by Penn State
  • They got Isaiah Livers back for the Illinois game!
  • Livers re-aggravated his groin injury against Illinois
  • Ayo Dosunmu hit a contested game-winner for Illinois
  • The Wolverines have lost four straight
  • Team captain and point guard Zavier Simpson is now suspended indefinitely
  • UM is 0-5 in true road games and now have to try to win their most winnable road game left without Simpson and probably Livers

This week: at Nebraska, Rutgers in NYC

13. Nebraska (KP:  131 / BM: N/A)

After four of their last five were on the road, the Huskers head back home to play potential spoiler.

This week: home for Michigan and Penn State

14. Northwestern (KP:  113 / BM: N/A)

I don’t have much to say on the Cats. They’re not terrible, but pretty young and inexperienced. If you’re a Northwestern fan, you’re hoping this group of freshmen and sophomores grow together like the McIntosh/Law/Lindsay/Skelly/Pardon group did.

This week: at Michigan State, home for Purdue

2019-20 Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 5

This week’s cop out for ranking teams comes to you via the Bracket Matrix, which currently has TWELVE (12) Big Ten teams in it. That seems kind of unrealistic to maintain, but you never know. If everyone keeps beating Nebraska and Northwestern and wins their home games, all 12 will end up with a lot of quality wins.

1. Michigan State (BM: 3 seed)

In rather predictable fashion, the Spartans jumped all over Wisconsin on Friday night after four days off following last weekend’s blowout loss.

Maybe the most noteworthy aspect of the game is that Gabe Brown, Aaron Henry, and Rocket Watts all had efficient games and all three scored in double digits. It was made necessary due to the second straight poor outing from Cassius Winston offensively.

To me, that trio is the difference in determining just how far the Spartans are going to go this year. Winston will be fine. Xavier Tillman pretty much always gives them production. Besides Watts, the rest of the bench (and Marcus Bingham) aren’t ready to give them much in terms of scoring besides the occasional outburst.

If Brown, Henry, and Watts keep scoring like they did on Friday, they can contend for a national championship.

The Spartans currently hold the sole lead of the conference, but things are about to get a lot tougher for them. Eight of their remaining 13 games are on the road.

This week: at Indiana and Minnesota

2. Maryland (BM: 4 seed)

A pretty solid week for the Terps, but it could’ve been a great week if not for a very unfortunate set of back-to-back BLOB plays.

Even though the Terps couldn’t finish the job up in Madison, there were some positives. For starters, Anthony Cowan played his best road game in quite some time. Also, Aaron Wiggins went 3-6 from deep and carried the hot shooting over to the Purdue game at home.

Jalen Smith is also still very good at basketball.

Saturday was a good win for Maryland, but it did reaffirm a concerning trend with the offense. Before that first pair of Big Ten games in December, they were 7th in offensive efficiency. A month later before Big Ten play started up again, they were 22nd. As I write this a little over two weeks later, they’re 44th.

They started out on fire Saturday from three, scoring 28 points the first 12 minutes. But Purdue was able to make it a three-point game late because the Terps only managed 29 points over the remaining 28 minutes.

In Madison, they got 47 points from three guys. The rest of the team scored only seven on 14 shots.

An elite defense will allow Maryland to still win a lot of games, but if the offensive trend doesn’t flip, their ceiling is limited.

This week: at Northwestern and Indiana

5. Iowa (BM: 5 seed)

The Hawks were the big winner of the week with a relatively easy road win at Northwestern and the exciting victory at home Friday night over Michigan.

What an absolutely dominant year for Luka Garza. He scored 60 points this week on 20-32 shooting, 4-6 from three. He put up 77 points in two meetings with the Wolverines this year. He’s currently #1 in KenPom’s NPOY rankings.

I’ve always been a fan of Garza’s. He was good when he set foot on campus, but his toughness and intensity stood out that first year on a team that lacked both of those things. He has to be leading the country the last few years in number of bloody noses/lips/ears.

Garza isn’t necessarily doing anything different this year or been more efficient, other than I guess be a bit more aggressive – and most importantly – stayed on the floor. He’s playing more than 30 minutes per game. He’s also improved as a defender while at the same time stayed out of major foul trouble for the most part.

Speaking of defense, the Hawkeye team has quietly improved a decent amount lately. They’re not as consistent as they need to be, but they’ve moved up 54 spots in defensive efficiency rankings since they gave up 103 to Michigan in Ann Arbor. While you’d like them to be more consistent on that end of the floor, it’s a lot better than consistently sucking all the time like recent years.

This week: home for Rutgers

4. Ohio State (BM: 6 seed)

If there were any thoughts that the Nebraska game was a “get right” game, all those feelings were probably gone by halftime on Saturday. The Bucks were blown out by a Penn State squad that they had previously beaten by 32 a month-and-a-half ago.

I’m not sure what to say about the Buckeyes right now. Offense had been their issue, now they finally start scoring again – although they did most of their damage in Happy Valley after they were already down big – and then they give up 90 to the Nittany Lions.

The good news is they’ve got two very winnable games this week and they absolutely need them before this rough patch starts to define their season.

This week: home for Minnesota, at Northwestern

5. Michigan (BM: 6 seed)

The Wolverines lost their only game of the week at Iowa, but the offense continues to shine even with Isaiah Livers out. Livers is expected to return soon.

The 83 they scored in Iowa City was thanks in large part to the 25-piece Eli Brooks put up. Brooks has been the biggest revelation of the season for the Wolverines. He played in a lot of the games the last couple of years, but always just seemed to kinda be running around without ever doing much. This year Brooks has scored at least 24 on four different occasions. Consistency is the next step. He’s also only scored two points in three outings.

Besides, ya know, losing, the negative side is that the defense hasn’t been traveling very well for Juwan Howard’s team. Shooting comes and goes on the road, but the consistent lack of defense by Michigan on the road indicates that maybe they’re just not a good defensive team.

This week: home for Penn State and Illinois

6. Wisconsin (BM: 7 seed)

Brad Davison saved the week with two outstanding plays late to put Maryland away.  Davison is not a favorite of opposing fans, but even Minnesota fans had to tip the cap on the way he finished out that game.

It’s probably best not to put too much stock in the Friday night game in East Lansing. It’s hard enough to play Michigan State at the Breslin Center. Throw in four days of prep for Tom Izzo after they got their brains beat in the last game and it’s nearly impossible to win that game.

The big question right now: Can Greg Gard figure out a way to play Nate Reuvers and Micah Potter at the same time? The question exists because those two are undoubtedly among the five best players on the team and ideally you’d like to play your five best players at the same time.

It doesn’t seem very possible right now. Potter has been a big help offensively, but he just got benched at the end of the Maryland game because he was such a liability defensively. The offense would probably improve a little bit with both him and Reuvers on the floor, but a lot of teams in the league are going to exploit the hell out of a defense with the two of them together. Fours are way too versatile now.

This week: home for Nebraska, at Purdue

7. Rutgers (BM: 7 seed)

YOUR NATIONALLY RANKED RUTGERS SCARLET KNIGHTS

I have never been bashful about my love for the Steve Pikiell era at Rutgers and I feel nothing now but complete vindication. I love this team.

Geo Baker was back this week, but clearly not fully 100% and they still got two wins at the RAC.

A road trip to Iowa this week is a good test. It’s an elite offense on the road and we’ll see how elite the Scarlet Knight defense is away from the RAC.

This week: at Iowa, home for Nebraska

8. Penn State (BM: 8 seed)

It was an important week for Penn State and they responded in a big way. They didn’t end up pulling out the win at Minnesota, but it was a strong showing. They followed it up by running Ohio State out of the BJC.

Lamar Stevens gets all of the headlines for the Nittany Lions. He’s a good player, but flawed, and has essentially been the same guy for four years.

Myreon Jones is the best example of why Penn State is on pace to make the tournament for the first time in a while. Jones got spotty minutes as a freshman and didn’t exactly make the most of them. He shot less than 30%.

As a sophomore, Jones is the best offensive player on the team and the biggest reason why the Nittany Lions have made the jump from NIT bubble team to damn near tournament lock.

This week: at Michigan

9. Illinois (BM: 9 seed)

I always want to believe that this Illinois team is good, a dangerous threat to the best teams in the country and then they give up 1.16 points per possession at home to a Northwestern team that doesn’t even have one of their best offensive players. We’ll see how good they are this week.

This week: at Purdue and Michigan

10. Indiana (BM: 9 seed)

Any road win is a good win in this league and IU got one at Nebraska after the offense looked kind of dreadful at Rutgers. The win at Nebraska was huge because KenPom has them favored in only one of the next eight games they play. This week might set the tone for the rest of the season.

This week: Michigan State and Maryland at home

11. Purdue (BM: 11 seed)

I don’t know if Purdue is the most volatile home/road team or if it’s just because I watch every second of every Purdue game, but I feel like they are. No player epitomizes this better than Sasha Stefanovic. Here’s his home/non-home splits:

3PM 3PA 3P% PPG
Home 30 57 0.526316 13.8
Road/Neutral 10 42 0.238095 5.9

That’s a pretty staggering difference. This is not meant as a blaming of Stefanovic for Purdue’s struggles on the road. At least he’s good somewhere. Most of the team is inconsistent regardless of location or bad everywhere. Their only real hope as an offense is that SS figures it out away from Mackey Arena. I don’t think they can count on Nojel Eastern scoring 14 points everywhere, like he did at Maryland.

This week: home for Illinois and Wisconsin

12. Minnesota (BM: 11 seed)

I really want to believe in the Gophers, but it’s now mid-to-late January and their only win away from Williams Arenas is a neutral/pseudo road game with Oklahoma State, who has lost 8 of their last 10.

They honestly played a pretty good game at Rutgers for the most part with one big exception: you can’t give up 20 offensive rebounds.

Great opportunity this week to prove something.

This week: at Ohio State and home for Michigan State

13. Nebraska (BM: N/A)

Their only job is to not screw things up for the rest of the conference by stealing victories.

This week: at Wisconsin at Rutgers

14. Northwestern (BM: N/A)

Same.

This week: home for Maryland and Ohio State

OVERVALUED, UNDERVALUED, OR PROPERLY VALUED 1.0: 2020 NCAA TOURNAMENT

Welcome to the first installment of the 2020 Overvalued, Undervalued, or Properly Valued series.

These rankings are based on the Final Four Index (FFI). The premise is ranking teams based on their similarities to the most successful tournament teams (those that reach the Final Four). The tournament is a different animal and the FFI measures teams in a tournament context and less so on a game-to-game basis like most analytical measures do.

This is an interesting year and may provide some opportunity where a darkhorse or longshot actually has a chance to win it all. The analytics match the narrative that there really aren’t any great teams this year. If you look at KenPom, this year’s best team (Kansas) would’ve ranked sixth last year. In the FFI, there are only two teams with a rating over 100 this year (although that will go up as teams’ SOS go up). There were nine last year.

Also, something worth noting this year: the national average for offensive efficiency is 101.2, the lowest in the history of KenPom’s website (est. 2002). It’s been at least 104 for the last six years.

I’m not the smartest guy in the world, but it seems that a lot of the reduction in offense can be attributed to the deeper three-point line. Teams are still taking a ton of them, but they made percentage is down over a full percent from last year and nearly two percent from 2018.

I say this because I adjusted the rankings last year to account for the three-point renaissance of 2014-2019 that resulted in quite a few teams bucking historical trends and riding threes to the Final Four.

Is that over now? Are three-heavy teams back to being stay-aways? I have no idea. Here’s the rankings.


Full disclosure: all of the data was gathered on Wednesday night and some teams have played twice since then. Things change. I only run data on teams that are seeded 1-11 on Bracket Matrix. Those teams were also picked Wednesday.

The odds were grabbed off of DraftKings on Thursday. What I didn’t know at the time is that DK doesn’t offer any odds on teams from New Jersey, so I grabbed those from Sportsbook.ag for Seton Hall and Rutgers.

The ranking on the left is based on where the odds suggest teams are ranked. The ranking in the parentheses are obviously the FFI.

Properly Valued

T2. Duke +1000 (FFI: 2)

The Blue Devils are the only current team that is Top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Kansas is the only other team that is Top 20 in both.

Vernon Carey might be the National POTY, but riding a freshman big isn’t the easiest way to win a national title. They’ve got other talent, but they need their backcourt to be healthier than they have been lately.

T2. Kansas +1000 (FFI: 1)

As mentioned, the Jayhawks are the only other team to be Top 20 in both offensive and defensive efficiency so far this season. They were able to survive the road trip to Oklahoma without Devon Dotson, but we’ve seen recently that they struggle when Dotson does. He’s struggled offensively a few times lately and it’s led to a 1-2 record and 55, 55, and 60 points scored as a team.

The good news is that this might be the best defensive team that Bill Self has ever had in Lawrence.

T5. Baylor +1500 (FFI: 6)

Resume-wise, the Bears might be the best team in the country. The lack of fanfare probably has a lot to do with several of their best players being low-profile transfers.

But it’s hard not to notice a team that rolled through Allen Fieldhouse about as easily as they rolled through a road game at Coastal Carolina.

In typical Scott Drew fashion, the Bears are almost over-reliant on second-chance opportunities on offense. But on the flip-side, this is the best defensive group he’s had.

T5. Michigan State +1500 (FFI: 3)

The flaws for the Spartans were clear to see a week ago at Purdue: this team really needs transition points to succeed and it’s also one of Tom Izzo’s worst shooting teams in a while.

But it’s still an Izzo team, which means they’ll be a tough out no matter what when it matters. They also have one of the best guards in the country in Cassius Winston.

T9. Butler +2000 (FFI: 12)

The Bulldogs have one of the most underrated backcourts in the country. Kamar Baldwin is one of the best guards in his own right, Aaron Thompson gives them another ball handler/driver/passer, and Sean McDermott is an elite shooter.

Defensively they’re very good, but a lack of a legitimate rim protector is noticeable and probably not a fixable problem. Derrik Smits will help some, though.

13. Auburn +2500 (FFI: 11)

A rather weak schedule the first two months revealed itself a bit with the back-to-back blowout road losses, but the Tigers are still a Final Four contender again. Last year’s offensive DNA – shooting threes whenever possible – hasn’t quite left this team, but if this team stopped settling so much, they’d be better off.

T15. Arizona +3000 (FFI: 15)

Not surprisingly, the young, talented Wildcats are a nightmare to deal with in Tuscon and pretty beatable anywhere else. It’s hard to take them too seriously until that trend starts to change.

T18. San Diego State +3300 (FFI: 20)

The Aztecs are the only unbeaten left and although the SOS isn’t very high, you can’t write them off as a mid-major pretender, especially this year. They already have three wins over teams who are likely (as of now) to earn at-large bids to the tournament and all three of those wins were away from their home floor.

T21. Florida State +4000 (FFI: 17)

It’s a pretty typical Florida State team. They’ve kinda quietly only lost two games and played the majority of their toughest opponents away from Tallahassee.

23. Penn State +4500 (FFI: 27)

The Nittany Lions are like a lite version of a Final Four team. They’re decent on each end of the floor, but aren’t great at either. They haven’t shown much away from home since November. They’ll have plenty of opportunities though in the Big Ten.

T26. Colorado +6000 (FFI: 22)

I love the Buffs and they’ve started to improve on two of their biggest offensive flaws: turnovers and scoring inside.

T26. LSU +6000 (FFI: 28)

Our first half-team of the blog. An elite offense, but one of the worst defenses you’ll see in this list. Not the most impressive resume at the time right now.

T26. Marquette +6000 (FFI: 32)

We go from a half-team to a largely one-man offense in Markus Howard. He’s enough to scare a 1 seed in a second round matchup, but it’s been proven over his career that the best teams usually find a way to overcome Howard’s prowess on a neutral floor.

T26. Purdue +6000 (FFI: 31)

One of the best defenses in the nation, but a frequently miserable offense away from Mackey Arena. Realistically, the first weekend is probably their ceiling, if they make the tournament at all.

T39. Indiana +8000 (FFI: 44)

Same conference, same state, and the same issues scoring away from their home floor.

T39. VCU +8000 (FFI: 40)

I don’t go through every team sheet, but I’m having a hard time figuring out why VCU would even be in the tournament right now. That’s a lot of weight on narrowly beating a pretty mediocre LSU team at home two months ago.

T46. Oklahoma +10000 (FFI: 46)

Just lost by 14 at home against Kansas without Devon Dotson, so I’m having a hard time picturing it.

T61. Georgetown +12500 (FFI: 43)

Just making the tournament would be an accomplishment for the Hoyas.

T61. Virginia Tech +12500 (FFI: 45)

Would probably be a pleasant surprise just to make the dance in Mike Young’s first year after they lost just about everything off last year’s rotation.

Slightly Overvalued

1. Gonzaga +900 (FFI: 5)

No surprise the Zags are one of the best teams in the country again, but putting them as the slight “favorite” over the rest of the country is probably a bit too far. Most years, they wouldn’t be good enough defensively yet, but who knows this year? They’ve got a really diverse offense, length, and a really solid eight-man rotation. But the annual question remains: can Killian Tillie stay healthy?

T5. Ohio State +1500 (FFI: 10)

The offense is slowly melting off the map and it’s resulted in losing five of six. That blowout road win at UNC put them on the national map in early December, but obviously that’s lost a lot of luster in 45 days.

T24. Florida +5000 (FFI: 39)

Florida does seem to be trending up. The offense has been good for six straight games and it’s not just one guy. They’re getting contributions everywhere and it seems to be a different guy starring every night. Worth keeping an eye on.

T24. Texas Tech +5000 (FFI: 37)

Last year this time they were in the “Highly Overvalued” category because their offense was pretty awful. It got a lot better and they nearly won a national title. They need a similar transformation.

T26. Creighton +6000 (FFI: 36)

Creighton can score, but can’t defend. The story of the Greg McDermott era. It’s a fun era, for the record.

T26. Houston +6000 (FFI: 35)

This is a bit of a rebuilding year for Kelvin Sampson. Last year’s team was a legitimate contender to make the Final Four. This year’s team probably isn’t because they have too many defensive lapses, but they’re an exceptional rebounding team when you consider they don’t start a single guy over 6’7″. I’d buy stock in the 2021 Cougars.

T26. Wichita State +6000 (FFI: 38)

I write this as I watch them complete a 25-point first half at home against Houston. A half that kind of summarizes what their issues are going forward. Right now the Shockers need defense to create offense for them and it’s tough sledding if they don’t get out in transition.

T26. Xavier +6000 (FFI: 41)

They’re not very good right now.

Slightly Undervalued

T26. Iowa +6000 (FFI: 18)

Defense does not live in Iowa, but the Hawkeyes can score any way you want it. They don’t seem to miss Jordan Bohannon much, which isn’t all that surprising, given that he was a sieve defensively and they’ve got enough skill to score a ton. It also helps that Luka Garza has turned into one of the favorites to win Big Ten POTY.

T39. Saint Mary’s +8000 (FFI: 25)

Hard disagree with the rankings, but whatever. They’ve recently lost to Pacific and Santa Clara.

T39. Wisconsin +8000 (FFI: 26)

Adding Micah Potter a month ago may be a difference maker for the Badgers. Scoring was a big issue and adding a guy that can make threes, free throws, and buckets down low is a shot in the arm. Another team worth tracking.

T46. Stanford +10000 (FFI: 33)

The Cardinal are quite an interesting case study in analytics. They’re 15-3, but they’ve played a horrible schedule. Their offensive EFG% is 4th in the country, but somehow only have the 97th best adjusted offense. Usually there’s a pretty strong correlation between the two. The disparity is partly due to the schedule, partly due to the lack of second chances they give themselves, and partly due to their frequency of never giving themselves a first chance (they turn it over a lot).

On the flip side – in spite of the bad schedule – Stanford still ranks 15th in adjusted defensive efficiency.

60-ish. Rutgers +12500 (FFI: 29)

Laugh if you want, but Rutgers is probably going to comfortably make the tournament this year and they’re bringing their elite defense with them. The Scarlet Knights are clearly much better at home, but they’ve got enough guard talent to make things scary for a high seed in a potential second round matchup.

T61. BYU +12500 (FFI: 21)

They really need Yoeli Childs back to really be a factor, but we champion any team that launches threes and makes 40% of them.

T69. Illinois +15000 (FFI: 34)

As soon as I start to think Illinois might actually be pretty good, they struggle to put away Northwestern and Rutgers in back-to-back home games.

Highly Overvalued

T2. Louisville +1000 (FFI: 13)

As I begin to write this, they’re up six at Duke with four minutes to go, but whatever. Things are always fluid. They have just recently struggled with Notre Dame and Pitt in addition to getting semi-blown out by Florida State and Texas Tech.

Some people love them, but aside from a home win over Michigan, their best win is probably that road trip to Notre Dame.

Update: The just won at Duke, which makes the timing of this blog very unfortunate. In defense of the rankings, David Johnson was averaging 3.7 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.2 BPG, and 0.1 SPG heading into the game and he put up 19, 4, 7, 2, and 3. That helps.

8. Oregon +1600 (FFI: 16)

And the numbers were compiled before they lost by double digits to Wazzu and snuck out a minor miracle against shorthanded Washington after trailing by 16.

I don’t have a lot of trust in the Ducks. They’ve been down big – or at least double digits -and come back to make it a tight game or led big and had to hold on for dear life in almost every notable game they’ve played. Plus, they’ve lost to Wazzu and UNC.

They have talent, but it doesn’t feel like a national championship team to me.

T9. Maryland +2000 (FFI: 19)

The Terps have talent, but they haven’t done anything on the road yet and the only semi-impressive neutral site win was Marquette. Anthony Cowan is a great guard and he’s had a fantastic career, but it’s been a while since he’s played six really good games in a row.

T11. Kentucky +2200 (FFI: 23)

The Cats are good, but they have one very obvious limitation that’s pretty important in modern basketball: shooting. Cal’s teams are usually growers and not showers, so I’ll hold much judgement for at least another month.

T11. Villanova +2200 (FFI: 24)

The personnel has changed, but the analytical breakdown is nearly a carbon copy of last year. Nobody likes being overrated, but I think Villanova fans can sleep fine at night knowing it’s because they won two titles in three years recently.

14. Virginia +2800 (FFI: 42)

This is the epitome of the natty boost because the Cavalier offense is A-T-R-O-C-I-O-U-S. ATROCIOUS.

T15. Memphis +3000 (FFI: 30)

The Memphis odds were really inflated before the season when they still had James Wiseman and they’re still not at an adequate level. They still haven’t beat anyone noteworthy this year.

Highly Undervalued

T15. Michigan +3000 (FFI: 4)

This isn’t a hill I particularly want to die on, but all six of their losses will likely end up in the Quad 1 variety and they beat the odds-on favorite by 18, so they’re not as bad as it may seem lately. A big reason for that is they’ve played the last six games without Isaiah Livers who’s their second-leading scorer and a 50% three-point shooter. Kind of a big piece.

15-ish. Seton Hall +3500 (FFI: 7)

The Pirates still don’t have Sandro Mamukelashvili and they’re still 6-0 in the Big East with the toughest Big East schedule so far, according to KenPom. Also, they have one of the best – the best? – players in the country in Myles Powell, one of those all-important guards people are always talking about in March. Romaro Gill was already one of the best defensive presences in the game and now he’s scored in double figures for five straight games. A team to watch, for sure.

T18. Dayton +3300 (FFI: 8)

Dayton is way too good to be anybody’s mid-major darling, but it’s still been 17 years since they’ve been above a 7 seed, which means you should still root for them. Obi Toppin gets all the headlines, but this is far from a one man team. The best of their resume is behind them, but you can still score some great wins on the road in the A-10.

T18. West Virginia +3300 (FFI: 9)

Good news, bad news on the Mountaineers. Bad news: you could’ve gotten a way better price before the season. Good news: The price is still too low and it may get better after they played like garbage at Kansas State on Saturday.

Fundamentally, the offense isn’t very good right now, but it’ll improve strides if they can just start taking care of the ball. Among major offensive problems, it’s probably the easiest fix. It really doesn’t take talent to change.

T36. Arkansas +7000 (FFI: 14)

I’m not all-in on the Hogs, but I also don’t want any part of betting against Mason Jones and Isaiah Joe. Two dudes that can go off at anytime. Joe attempts 11 threes a game, which is just the most preposterous stat I’ve come across this year.

Irrelevant

T21. North Carolina +4000 (FFI: NR)

LMAO

T26. Texas +6000 (FFI: NR)

Why is Texas overrated in every sport?

T36. Tennessee +7000 (FFI: NR)

Not even remotely a threat without Lamonte Turner.

T36. Washington +7000 (FFI: NR)

They were a bubble team before Quade Green was out.

T39. St. John’s +8000 (FFI: NR)

Worth noting: three of the four best St. John’s teams in this century were coached by Steve Lavin. They fired him after five years.

Also worth noting: the Red Storm have made the tournament three times since Mike Jarvis was fired. They’ve fired coaches after two of those appearances.

St. John’s is not made fun of enough for their incompetence.

T39. Utah State +8000 (FFI: NR)

Compared to some other bubble teams, I feel like the Aggies should be getting more attention.

T39. Liberty +8000 (FFI: NR)

I think Liberty is good again, but they’ve played a horrific schedule. They’re putting all their eggs in the A-Sun Tournament, I guess.

T46. Cincinnati +10000 (FFI: NR)

Gonna have to do a lot of damage this next month-and-a-half to get any at-large consideration.

T46. UConn +10000 (FFI: NR)

If “Coaches Yelling/Complaining/Completely Melting Down” was a requirement, the Huskies would be a lock for the tourney.

T46. Davidson +10000 (FFI: NR)

Low-key one of the biggest disappointments in CBB.

T46. Mississippi State +10000 (FFI: NR)

Not much to show on the resume so far, but Nick Weatherspoon might turn things around.

T46. Missouri +10000 (FFI: NR)

Between the Porters and Jeremiah Tilmon, it’s just been a series of very unfortunate injury situations for Cuonzo Martin since he started.

T46. NC State +10000 (FFI: NR)

There hasn’t been a good defensive team in Raleigh since Herb Sendek left.

T46. Notre Dame +10000 (FFI: NR)

Haven’t beat a team in KenPom’s Top 50 and they’ve lost to two outside of it.

T46. Oklahoma State +10000 (FFI: NR)

Good think Mike Boynton signed Cade Cunningham or this might be his last year.

T46. Utah +10000 (FFI: NR)

It’s a debate on whether they’re the third or fourth best team in the basketball hotbead of the state of Utah.

T46. Drake +10000 (FFI: NR)

They have to beat UNI for the MVC, which seems unlikely.

T46. Northern Iowa +10000 (FFI: NR)

The Panthers are legitimately good. The schedule hasn’t been very good, but they’re 16-2 and they were up 15 in both of their losses, including a neutral-site affair with WVU. Watch out for UNI.

T59. Texas A&M +12000 (FFI: NR)

This would’ve been a lot funnier a couple of weeks ago, but the Aggies are halfway decent now.

T59. USC +12000 (FFI: NR)

The new Big O is the only thing that keeps them respectable.

T61. Arizona State +12500 (FFI: NR)

Another Hurley that loses his mind without tangible improvement.

T61. Harvard +12500 (FFI: NR)

This should be Yale.

T61. Syracuse +12500 (FFI: NR)

A Syracuse team that can’t defend? Hard pass.

T61. UCLA +12500 (FFI: NR)

They’re 8-9.

T61. DePaul +12500 (FFI: NR)

Actually a team with some teeth on here. They’ve beaten four at-large teams already.

T69. Alabama +15000 (FFI: NR)

Getting better pretty quietly underneath Nate Oats.

T69. Georgia +15000 (FFI: NR)

Anthony Edwards is your only hope, but he’s shown he’s not nearly enough.

T69. Minnesota +15000 (FFI: NR)

Not horrendous.

T69. Ole Miss +15000 (FFI: NR)

Tyree is good.

T69. Penn +15000 (FFI: NR)

This should be Yale.

T69. Rhode Island +15000 (FFI: NR)

They can’t throw it in the ocean.

2019-20 Big Ten Power Rankings (Kinda): Week 4

I’m throwing in the towel. I have no idea how to possibly rank these teams this year and it’s for a good reason. Nearly all of them are good!

If I were to put together rankings – based on results, eye test, or a combination of both – anyone could easily poke holes in the order because at this point so much is uncertain and we have so much more to learn. A simple game using the transitive property leaves any set of rankings open to get bludgeoned.

In recent years, there’s been fairly clear tiers to the conference. There’s usually four of five tiers and the top tier has three or four teams, and a lot of times, the winner of the conference is just the one team in that top tier who plays the easiest schedule.

This year? Best of luck finding the tiers. 12 of the 14 teams are legitimately good and would either be in the NCAA Tournament today or would be one of the first few cut.

So I’m waving the white flag. I don’t really have a rankings. I’ll just let KenPom do it for me and I’ll provide the commentary.

Nothing better to show off the craziness of the league than pointing out KP ranks OSU second in the league (eighth in the country) and the Buckeyes are currently 1-4 in Big Ten play, tied for dead last. Also, all five teams who were ranked going into the weekend lost.

I know I used to have a segment in here about the five best games to watch this week. At times it was pretty difficult to find five games worthy of your time. Now? Just watch all of the games.

1. Michigan State (KP: 5)

It looked like the Spartans may have been separating themselves from the pack a bit, as they were on a three-game winning streak, winning each game by at least 16.

But it may have been a bit of fool’s gold. Home court advantage has never been more apparent in the league and MSU had played four of their first five at home, with the lone road game being a fairly tight game at last place Northwestern.

MSU is probably still the best team in the league, but Sunday showed that they’re not just going to waltz their way to another conference title. They’ve got eight more road games to go.

Tom Izzo teams have always been elite at getting out in transition, even after made buckets by an opponent. This team has done that more than ever, playing at the fastest pace by far of any Izzo team.

It’s worked well. They entered the game at Purdue as the most efficient offense in the country. But Sunday’s game showed what can happen if they aren’t able to get in transition and are forced to play in the half court. Purdue turned it over just six times and only a few were of the live-ball variety. It resulted in just four fast break points for the Spartans and a total of 42, 20 points below their previous season low.

This week: home for Wisconsin

2. Ohio State (KP: 8)

The Buckeyes might be the toughest team to pin down this year. The analytics love them and so did everybody else up until about two weeks ago.

The defense has been pretty great wherever they go, but offensively they’ve hit a slump. They’ve shown enough this year to make you think they can get out of it, but four straight games of poor outings does make you start to wonder.

For 12 games, they shot 41% from three and they were shooting a lot of them. The last four? Just 29% from distance. Turnovers have always been a bit of an issue, but that’s only amplified recently. Maybe the most telling statistic is that OSU is shooting just 37.6% from two-point range in these four straight losses. Obviously it’s just four games, but for context, the worst season-long two-point percentage in the country is 39.1%. Shout out to Alcorn State.

Working in OSU’s favor is that they’re about to hit probably the softest part of their conference schedule. Nothing is easy this year in the Big Ten, but the Buckeyes need to get right in these next five games.

This week: home for Nebraska, at Penn State

3. Maryland (KP: 12)

The Terps have clearly solidified themselves as a great team in College Park, but the book is still out on them away from the Xfinity Center. They’re 0-3 in true road games, looking listless at Iowa, after trailing at Penn State nearly the whole way and losing at Seton Hall without the Pirates’ best two players earlier in the year.

A big part of that is Anthony Cowan really struggling to be efficient on the road the past couple of years. If that doesn’t change, it’s unlikely for the Terps to get a Top 2 or 3 seed in the tournament. But we’ve seen him do it before when he was an underclassmen.

Probably the bigger question is whether Eric Ayala and Aaron Wiggins can emerge from their shooting slumps and get closer to last year’s numbers when they were freshmen. The two of them shot a combined 41% from three-point range last year – at a high clip –  and are now shooting just 27%. Those guys are essentially shooting 1.4 more threes per game and making 14 percent less. Not ideal for efficiency.

This week: at Wisconsin and home for Purdue

4. Purdue (KP: 17)

What a difference a week makes. Last Sunday, Purdue lost 63-37 to Illinois. The 37 points were the lowest total in 71 years for a Purdue team. Cut to a week later and Purdue wins 71-42 over Michigan State.

It goes without saying that the Boilers are neither as bad as they looked at Illinois or as good as they looked at home against MSU. The discrepancy between the two does loudly illustrate how different they can be depending on where they’re playing.

But it’s worth noting that Purdue did play a pretty good game start-to-finish at Michigan and probably should’ve won if they make just one more play in multiple key situations. But the asterisk on that one is that the Boilers got 36 points and 20 rebounds from Trevion Williams, which is not exactly something you can count on every night. The jury is still out on Road Purdue.

This will never be a great offensive team, but if the Boilers just start to get something from their role players on the road like they did against MSU, they can be a good one.

This week: at Maryland

5. Iowa (KP: 19)

Quite an interesting week for the Hawkeyes. It started with a dreadful outside shooting performance at Nebraska, which resulted in a loss against the Jervay Green-less Huskers. Iowa had incredible success inside, but still opted to shoot 33 three-pointers and only managed to make four (12%). It was the most efficient game from two-point range all season, yet they also set a new high for three-point attempts at the same time. Not ideal.

But the bounceback game in the form of a 67-49 win at home against Maryland was an impressive response. And they did it with defense. The Hawkeyes only shot 38% from the floor and had 18 turnovers, but they were responsible for the Terps worst offensive performance of the year. Add in the 44-32 advantage Iowa enjoyed on the glass and it was a rather gritty win, the type of win that there hasn’t been enough of in recent years in Iowa City.

This week: at Northwestern, home for Michigan

6. Michigan (KP: 21)

It’s hard to evaluate Michigan based on their recent results because they’re missing what might be the most important part of their offense in Isaiah Livers, who has taken nearly five three-pointers a game and hit half of them. Zavier Simpson makes the whole offense go, but Livers brings a different element.

It’s too early still to make judgments on Juwan Howard, but the Wolverines are clearly different than years past. Luke Yaklich’s presence helped make UM an elite defensive team after years of lackluster defense. The D has reverted back to its old ways without Yaklich and John Beilein, but there is a brisker pace in Ann Arbor under Howard and the offense has a ton of upside if they get back to full strength.

Their November isn’t what we thought it was when it was happening, but this is still a really good team that needs to get healthy. They’ve got upperclassmen leadership and underclassmen with a lot of skill.

This week: at Iowa

7. Wisconsin (KP: 22)

Around Thanksgiving time, the Badgers were horrible. They lost neutral-site games against Richmond and New Mexico, two teams unlikely to compete in their mid-major conferences. They also got blown out by NC State, who will likely miss the tournament.

That seems like a really long time ago now because Wisconsin has been great the past couple of weeks. They let a late lead slip away against Illinois, but they’re responsible for two of the five road wins in league play this year. They also added in a blowout at Tennessee. They’ve moved up 30 spots in KP’s rankings the last five games.

The shift has largely came defensively. This is never going to be a great offensive team and they already had a good defense, but they’ve been playing at an elite level the past couple of weeks.

Another factor is obviously the presence of Micah Potter, who was forced to sit out the first semester. Potter played his most minutes of the season (28) on Saturday at Penn State and here’s guessing he sees even more minutes soon. Potter thanked Greg Gard fot the additional PT by scoring 24 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.

This week: home for Maryland, at Michigan State

8. Illinois (KP: 29)

Somewhat under the radar, but the Illini picked up one of the biggest wins of the week when they snuck out a victory up in Madison. Illinois is not a good shooting team consistently, but they had an efficient night at Wisconsin and took care of the ball again, which is a big area of improvement recently.

It’s hard to overstate the impact Kofi Cockburn has had on this team as just a freshman. He’s helped them become an elite offensive rebounding team and kicked up both the interior offense and defense. His presence as a rim protector has helped them at all levels. Every guard on the team is fouling less this year and now opponents are shooting way less free throws per game than they were the past couple years. The guards aren’t gambling as much now for steals because they don’t have to. Credit to Brad Underwood for adapting his philosophy.

Shooting is holding them back from going up another level, but that can change. Both Ayo Dosunmu and Trent Frazier have been reliable threats in the past couple of years. If those two get going from outside, this is a really dangerous team.

This week: home vs. Northwestern 

9. Rutgers (KP: 32)

I don’t know the entire history of Rutgers basketball, but this is by far the best team I’ve ever seen from the program. They’re legitimately good and I’m not even sure they’ve hit their peak yet. It physically pains me to think about how good they could’ve been if Eugene Omoruyi stuck around.

Rutgers has really struggled to shoot the ball (are you picking up this is a common thread in Big Ten basketball?), but best of luck trying to score on them in the half court, especially at the RAC. Myles Johnson has turned into a pretty damn good anchor to the back of the defense and is doing a much better job this year of staying out of foul trouble. It doesn’t hurt that he’s shooting 71% at the other end.

Keep in mind that since Big Ten play started up again, Geo Baker’s been out and they’re still playing this well. Ron Harper Jr. was really starting to figure things out at the end of last season and that’s carried over into this season.

And with Baker out, Texas transfer Jacob Young has really started to turn it on. Caleb McConnell has shown more than a handful of times that he can make a big impact on a game and Akwasi Yeboah has been a steady contributor as a grad transfer.

Rutgers has had one or two stars over the past few years, but not big enough of stars to make them truly competitive in the league. Steve Pikiell now has one of the deeper rotations in the league and it’s really starting to show up in the win column.

This week: home for Indiana and Minnesota

10. Indiana (KP: 33)

The Hoosiers narrowly avoided a bad loss against a shorthanded Northwestern team during the week, but responded nicely by putting away Ohio State late in the second half on Saturday and picked up a quality win in the process.

I feel like we still have a lot to learn about IU because they’ve spent so much time at home so far this season. The good news is we get to find out because the schedule the rest of the way is pretty unrelenting.

I do know that they’re one of the best rebounding teams in the league and their best form of offense so far is shooting a shitload of free throws. I also know that Trayce Jackson-Davis is one of the youngest guys on the team and is the most consistent, steadiest guy on the team and might have the most mature game.

On the negative side, we also know that the Hoosiers don’t shoot it very well and given that most of the data is from home games, it’s not likely to improve with more than half of their remaining games due to come away from Assembly Hall.

This week: at Rutgers and Nebraska

11. Penn State (KP: 36)

Tough week for the Nittany Lions. They got off to a good start at Rutgers, but couldn’t manage enough offense and missed out on a golden opportunity to pick up a road win when the Scarlet Knights were without Geo Baker.

The shooting woes continued against Wisconsin and they trailed at home for the entire game.

This feels like an important time for Penn State. The fans who actually care about the basketball team have been dying to get back to the tournament for the first time in nearly a decade. They put themselves in a great position with a 12-2 start and multiple quality wins and they avoided bad losses, although the Ole Miss loss is trending that way.

They just lost a couple of games that were winnable/they should’ve won. Now they have to go to the Barn and play an OSU team at home that’s desperate to get back on a winning streak. They can’t let things spiral.

This week: at Minnesota, home for Nebraska

12. Minnesota (KP: 38)

The Gophers might be just as good as about anybody in this league, but they’ve probably got the toughest road in order to reaching the NCAA Tournament. The reason: they didn’t start this good and did themselves no favors in the non-conference.

The good news of course is that they will have ample opportunities to rack up some quality wins that they didn’t get in November and December. Also good news: they just got another big win on Sunday.

The early season struggles were fairly predictable after losing Amir Coffey, Jordan Murphy, Dupree McBrayer, and Isaiah Washington from last year’s team and losing Eric Curry to injury.

But things have flipped for this team and it’s for two big reasons: Marcus Carr and Daniel Oturu are awesome. Oturu’s the more consistent of the two, but he’s got the ability to dominate the inside of any game and Carr can take over from the perimeter.

If they can get Gabe Kalscheur and Payton Willis heated back up again, they’ll be able to beat just about anyone.

This week: home for Penn State, at Rutgers

13. Northwestern (KP: 104)

Well, Northwestern got a win, but it was against the only team below them and it was at home, which doesn’t get you very far. They need to get Boo Buie back and they need him to be as good offensively as he was right before he got injured.

This week: home for Iowa, at Illinois

14. Nebraska (KP: 131)

Nebraska continues on the path of “occasionally great, otherwise shit” that they’ve been on for a while now. The inconsistency makes sense when you consider they only have one guy back from last year and he was a role player.

They have enough talent to be better than they are, but they fail to do some simple aspects of the game like “rebound” and “make free throws.”

Jokes aside, the Huskers have shown themselves to be a viable threat when any team makes a trip to Lincoln and that still makes them very relevant in the discourse of the league.

This week: at Ohio State, home for Indiana