Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings: MSU making case for top spot in league

·6 min read

It’s the time of the year where we can for the most part turn all of our focus from the gridiron to the hardwood. So it’s only fitting we get started with a new weekly batch of Big Ten basketball power rankings.

Throughout the fall, Spartans Wire would release a weekly football power rankings poll of the Big Ten teams. Now that we are onto the bowl season, we are shifting to a similar weekly power rankings poll for men’s basketball.

Let’s take a look at where we have the Spartans and the rest of the Big Ten teams in our initial power rankings:

No. 14: Nebraska

Steven Branscombe/USA TODAY Sports

Record: 5-6 (0-2 in Big Ten)

I still believe Fred Hoiberg is a solid coach, but he has his work cut out for him with the Cornhuskers. Nebraska has dropped four straight games, with their last two losses coming by more than 30 points.

No. 13: Penn State

Nick King/Lansing State Journal

Record: 5-5 (0-2 in Big Ten)

Penn State isn’t a bad team — or at least I don’t believe they are at this point in the season — but they are clearly behind most of the other teams in this extremely deep Big Ten. The Nittany Lions are also in the first year under new head coach Micah Shrewsberry so expectations shouldn’t be terribly high for Penn State this season.

No. 12: Iowa

Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen

Record: 7-3 (0-2 in Big Ten)

Iowa has dropped three straight after an impressive 7-0 start to the season, and this week’s 20-point loss to rival Iowa State was brutal. The Hawkeyes have the pieces to be an NCAA bubble team so I expect them to work their way up these power rankings throughout the season. For now, this is where Iowa will sit.

No. 11: Rutgers

Catalina Fragoso/USA TODAY Sports

Record: 5-5 (1-1 in Big Ten)

Rutgers may have the best win of the year in the Big Ten — but that’s really the only good thing we can say about the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers upset Purdue earlier this week on a buzzer-beater and played rival Seton Hall tight until the final five minutes on the road. So it was a pretty good week for the Scarlet Knights but there’s still a lot of ground to make up for a tough start to the season.

No. 10: Maryland

Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports

Record: 7-4 (0-1 in Big Ten)

It’s been an eventful season for Maryland so far, with a ton of twists and turns. The Terps and longtime head coach Mark Turgeon went separate ways with him stepping down. Despite that recent change, Maryland was able to knock off Florida on Sunday so there could still be some hope for the Terps this year.

No. 9: Northwestern

Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports

Record: 7-2 (1-0 in Big Ten)

Northwestern has gotten off to a quietly good start to the season. The Wildcats have taken care of business in the sense that they haven’t lost a game they shouldn’t lose, and also picked up a road win over Maryland. However, the jury is still out on whether or not this Wildcats team is truly an NCAA Tournament contender or not.

No. 8: Michigan

Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

Record: 6-4 (1-1 in Big Ten)

Michigan has by far been the most disappointing team in the Big Ten thus far this season (although Maryland has a case as well). The Wolverines have been blown out twice and dropped a pair of home games they shouldn’t have lost. This doesn’t appear to be a championship-contending team at the moment, but there still is plenty of talent on the roster so don’t count out Michigan just yet.

No. 7: Indiana

Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports

Record: 8-2 (1-1 in Big Ten)

Indiana would be higher in these rankings had they not blown a 22-point lead against Wisconsin earlier this week. The Hoosiers don’t boast a great win yet on the season, but they’ve proven that they can be pretty darn good when they are playing up to their potential. Consistently doing so will be what we need to see from Indiana to truly buy into the Hoosiers.

No. 6: Minnesota

Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports

Record: 8-1 (1-1 in Big Ten)

Who would have thought Minnesota would be this good so far this year? Not me — I’ll admit that. The Golden Gophers’ only loss on the year is to Michigan State, and they hold impressive road wins over Pitt, Mississippi State and Michigan on the year. Minnesota is looking like a true NCAA Tournament contender under first-year head coach Ben Johnson.

No. 5: Illinois

Jeffrey Becker/USA TODAY Sports

Record: 7-3 (2-0 in Big Ten)

Illinois has a ton of talent and should be playing better than what we’ve seen so far this year. Illinois’ three non-conference losses — including a 20-point defeat to Cincinnati — have me second-guessing my preseason expectations on the Fighting Illini but like with the Wolverines I think we’ll see this team come together throughout the season. There’s just too much talent on that roster for me to expect anything less quite yet.

No. 4: Wisconsin

Mary Langenfeld/USA TODAY Sports

Record: 8-2 (1-1 in Big Ten)

Wisconsin needed an amazing comeback to get past Indiana and ultimately avoid an 0-2 start in Big Ten play. But I have to give them credit for finding a way to get that win, along with an impressive non-conference slate as well.

No. 3: Ohio State

Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch

Record: 8-2 (2-0 in Big Ten)

It hasn’t always been pretty this year, but Ohio State deserves to be in the top three of the Big Ten when you look at the games they’ve won. The Buckeyes have wins over three ranked foes, including previously-No. 1 Duke. Ohio State is also battling through some injuries so don’t be surprised if they only get better from this point.

No. 2: Michigan State

Nick King/Lansing State Journal

Record: 9-2 (2-0 in Big Ten)

Michigan State has quickly emerged as a Big Ten title contender after entering the year outside that conversation. The Spartans do have a pair of blowout losses against elite opponents (Kansas and Baylor), but have taken care of business against everyone else. Right now, this appears to be another really solid Tom Izzo-led Spartans squad.

No. 1: Purdue

Nikos Frazier / Journal & Courier

Record: 9-1 (1-1 in Big Ten)

Purdue could very well be undefeated right now and still No. 1 in the country had Ron Harper not hit the halfcourt buzzer-beater earlier this week. Despite that loss to Rutgers, Purdue still appears to be the best team in the league at the moment and will be the leader for the Big Ten title this year until someone else takes that from them.

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