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Big Ten power poll | League a mishmash after top 3

Jan. 10—The resumption of Big Ten play in the new year hasn't provided all that much clarity to the league. Other than reinforcing that

Purdue is, in fact, the best team in the conference. Maybe. Illinois beat writer Scott Richey offers up his latest Big Ten rankings:

1. Purdue

Purdue's success this season (we're talking March ... maybe April) doesn't simply boil down to having the reigning national player of the year well on his way to a repeat. Zach Edey makes a difference, but the Boilermakers need his supporting cast to do what they've done so far this season. As in more.

2. Illinois

Illinois hasn't done anything to fall from its spot as top Big Ten title contender if Purdue didn't exist. But there are some questions concerning Brad Underwood's Illini. Like how will they handle the ever-evolving Terrence Shannon Jr. situation? Or can Marcus Domask keep up his high level of play? And is Quincy Guerrier's wrist OK?

3. Wisconsin

Tyler Wahl made a big leap as a scorer in the 2021-22 season, more than doubling his scoring for the Badgers. Then he stagnated, averaging basically the same points and rebounds a year later. This season looked like more of the same, but he's averaging 15.7 points and 6.7 rebounds in his last four games.

4. Northwestern

Which Northwestern is the real Northwestern? The one that beat Purdue (again) and crushed Michigan State or the one that lost at home to Chicago State and got crushed in a 30-point loss at Illinois? The Wildcats might need to ride their offense this season after relying on defense during the 2022-23 season.

5. Nebraska

Home-court advantage hasn't been flawless for the Cornhuskers this season given Creighton walked out of Pinnacle Bank Arena with a 29-point victory. But it's meant something in Big Ten play. Just look at what Fred Hoiberg's team did Tuesday night against top-ranked Purdue. Away from home, however, Nebraska has lost by an average of 13.5 points.

6. Ohio State

Odds are the Buckeyes would have picked up their first Big Ten road win on the season on Saturday had guards Bruce Thornton and Roddy Gayle not shot a combined 0 of 12 from three-point range in a 71-65 loss at Indiana. Neither is an elite shooter, but both are certainly capable of avoiding 0-fers.

7. Minnesota

Has Gophers coach Ben Johnson saved his job? A year ago at this point, Minnesota was 6-8 overall and 0-4 in the Big Ten. Well on its way to an 8-21 season and just two Big Ten wins. These Gophers are 12-3 overall, 3-1 in the Big Ten and maybe playing over their heads compared to the analytics.

8. Michigan State

Tom Izzo doesn't believe in analytics. Thinks they're phony. So never mind that the Spartans average out at 17th in the six most prevalent advanced metrics. Michigan State just might be computer trickers given their overall record and two Big Ten losses where the Spartans barely even competed.

9. Indiana

The Hoosiers have made it work with a frontcourt-heavy rotation. Mostly. Blowout neutral site losses to Connecticut and Auburn and a double-digit loss at Nebraska are indications it doesn't always work. In the long run, the lack of consistent guard play could be Indiana's undoing this season.

10. Iowa

In an era of college basketball where so much seems to change, it's comforting that some things don't. Like Iowa needing to score 86.7 points per game (ninth highest in the country) to even be competitive. It's a necessity because the 9-6 Hawkeyes are allowing 77.6 points per game (good for 319th nationally).

11. Maryland

Nothing about the Terps has changed. They're the same team now having lost two straight Big Ten games that they were in early November when they were saddled with a pair of Quad III losses. Jahmir Young continues to score (19.9 points), but the roster as a whole can't shoot (27 percent from three).

12. Penn State

Year one for Mike Rhoades in Happy Valley has probably played out as expected. He turned over almost the entire Penn State roster from what Micah Shrewsberry had last season on a team that reached the second round of the NCAA tournament. Which makes it even more ironic the last man standing, sophomore guard Kanye Clary, is the team's leading scorer averaging 18.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists.

13. Michigan

Who knew Juwan Howard was this crafty? By letting assistant coach Phil Martelli take the reins in Sunday's game at his old stomping grounds at the Palestra, Howard can say the Wolverines' latest disaster — a 79-73 loss to Penn State — isn't on him. Too bad the three previous losses certainly were. Good thing Jim Harbaugh's football program won a national title.

14. Rutgers

Knocking off in-state Jersey rival Seton Hall looks better every day given how the Pirates have ripped through the best the Big East has to offer. That doesn't do anything, however, to change where the Scarlet Knights and their remarkably ineffective offense stand in the Big Ten.