With midterms looming, I wasn’t sure how invested I’d be in college basketball this week. Turns out, it was a pretty unremarkable stretch. Outside of one particular upset on Tuesday, the Big Ten isn’t worth too much new discussion.
As a result I’ll be departing from my usual paragraph style this week, instead giving each team an overall grade for the season so far. Much like midterm grades, they don’t express the full story: There’s still room to improve for weaker teams, while the top of the conference will have to avoid getting too complacent.
This handy little power ranking of every team in the conference is based on a host of facts, opinions and biases, but will hopefully get you thinking about college basketball more this year and prepare you for the frenzy of March Madness. From ranking the lowly #14 team to the vaunted #1, this piece strives to ensure the freshest updates this season.
14. Penn State (1-11 conference, 8-15 overall)
Previous rank: 14
Recent games: 59-52 W @ Northwestern, 74-70 L @ Ohio State
Midseason grade: D+. Football season really can’t come soon enough, can it?
13. Nebraska (3-10 conference, 13-11 overall)
Previous rank: 12
Recent games: 60-45 L vs. Maryland, 81-62 L @ Purdue
Midseason grade: C-. Isaac Copeland Jr. was more than just the team’s glue: he was their oxygen.
12. Northwestern (3-9 conference, 12-11 overall)
Previous rank: 11
Recent games: 59-52 L vs. Penn State, 80-79 L @ Iowa
Midseason grade: C-. They built Welsh-Ryan, but at this rate the fans shouldn’t come.
11. Rutgers (4-9 conference, 11-12 overall)
Previous rank: 10
Recent games: 77-65 L vs. Michigan, 99-94 L @ Illinois
Midseason grade: C+. Hope allows fans to feel more than apathy, making losing worse.
10. Indiana (4-8 conference, 13-10 overall)
Previous rank: 9
Recent games: 77-72 L vs. Iowa, 55-52 L vs. Ohio State
Midseason grade: C+. This is almost a wasted season, but beating the Spartans was cool.
9. Illinois (5-8 conference, 9-15 overall)
Previous rank: 13
Recent games: 79-74 W vs. Michigan State, 99-94 W vs. Rutgers
Midseason grade: B-. Finishing strong is nice, but only if you can settle for the NIT.
8. Ohio State (5-6 conference, 15-7 overall)
Previous rank: 8
Recent games: 74-70 W vs. Penn State, 55-52 W @ Indiana
Midseason grade: B. They can make the top half of the conference, don’t expect more.
7. Minnesota (6-7 conference, 16-7 overall)
Previous rank: 7
Recent games: 56-51 L vs. Wisconsin, 79-55 L @ Michigan State
Midseason grade: B. Having a quiet but decent season, in typical Minnesota fashion.
6. Maryland (9-4 conference, 18-6 overall)
Previous rank: 5
Recent game: 60-45 W @ Nebraska
Midseason grade: B+. They looked like Big Ten Tournament contenders, but momentum faded fast.
5. Iowa (8-5 conference, 19-5 overall)
Previous rank: 6
Recent games: 77-72 W @ Indiana, 80-79 W vs. Northwestern
Midseason grade: B+. More than a welcome improvement from last year.
4. Michigan State (10-3 conference, 19-5 overall)
Previous rank: 3
Recent games: 79-74 L @ Illinois, 79-55 W vs. Minnesota
Midseason grade: A-. Mental mistakes are keeping them from dominating.
3. Wisconsin (9-4 conference, 17-7 overall)
Previous rank: 4
Recent games: 56-51 W @ Minnesota, 61-52 L @ Michigan
Midseason grade: A-. The Badgers have a real shot at the Sweet Sixteen come March.
2. Michigan (11-2 conference, 22-2 overall)
Previous rank: 2
Recent games: 77-65 W @ Rutgers, 61-52 W vs. Wisconsin
Midseason grade: A consistent top performer who is hungry for a championship.
1. Purdue (10-2 conference, 16-6 overall)
Previous rank: 1
Recent game: 81-62 W vs. Nebraska
Midseason grade: A. Proof that a slow start doesn’t mean a team can’t climb to the top.