Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings, Week 4: Spartans surge in poll, but Wolverines keep their throne
When Tom Izzo's team is the surprising leader, the league must be something else.
Still, the big week for the Spartans - which included wins against Ohio State and at Wisconsin was not enough to dethrone the Wolverines from their top spot. The Wolverines remain No. 1 for the fourth straight week.
1. Michigan (17-1, 4-1): Michigan held on to the top spot with an iron grip by shellacking the Golden Gophers. But despite their impressive start, the Big Ten - and the entire country - is still anxiously awaiting the Wolverines upcoming gauntlet. In order to win this league, UM will have to survive a frightful 10-day span in which they go at Indiana, home against Ohio State, at Wisconsin and at Michigan State. I feel like I took a couple losses just writing that.
"I know Michigan State has a better Big Ten record, but Michigan went into 'The Barn' and looked the part of a B1G title favorite by silencing Minnesota's most frenzied crowd in a decade. The Wolverines are a Trey Burke in-and-out 3-pointer away from 18-0." -- MLive Michigan basketball beat writer Nick Baumgardner
2. ↑ Michigan State (17-3, 6-1): The Spartans may be grinding out games, but they're grinding them all the way to the top. If they're able to grind one out in Bloomington Sunday, it may be hard to deny them the next week's No. 1 ranking.
"The Spartans have won six straight since losing the conference opener at Minnesota, and they sit all alone in first place after winning at Wisconsin. Five different players have led the team in scoring during those six games. And Michigan State has cut down on turnovers." -- MLive writer Tim Martin
3. ↓ Indiana (17-2, 5-1): Indiana may have dropped one at home to Bo Ryan's Badgers, but Tom Izzo still thinks they're the most complete team in the league. We'll find out soon when they take on MSU and Purdue in a span of three days.
"I could look like a fool Sunday if the Hoosiers come out and take care of business at home against the Spartans, but right now, Indiana has some work do. The Hoosiers looked like a mess in a home loss to Wisconsin (a team that can barely shoot) and didn't look that much better in a road win over Northwestern." -- Baumgardner
4. ↑ Ohio State (14-4, 4-2): The Buckeyes don't seem to belong at the top of the league and yet they don't seem to belong in the middle. They're still the only team to beat No. 2 Michigan.
"The Buckeyes can beat anybody, particularly when they’re cranking up the defense. And I know this is getting repetitive, but Deshaun Thomas needs scoring help if the Buckeyes are to have any shot at the title." -- Martin
5. ↓ Minnesota (15-4, 3-3): What in the world is going on Tubby? Minnesota was in the Top 10 in both the AP and coaches' polls just a minute ago. Now they've dropped quicker than the temperature on campus. The Golden Gophers have lost three in a row, including one to Northwestern. They'll get a chance at redemption Saturday when they head to Wisconsin.
6. ↓ Wisconsin (13-6, 4-2): One week you're a prince, the next a pauper. After physically dominating the Hoosiers in Bloomington - holding the nation's second leading scorers to just 59 points - the Badgers lost where they never do: At home. Throw in a loss at Iowa and Bo Ryan is steaming. It doesn't get any easier for UW, who takes on rival Minnesota on Saturday, then heads to Columbus three days later.
"We were fooled, I guess. The Badgers pulled off a shocker at Indiana, but turned around and lost at Iowa (a game where it trailed by 16 at the break) before shooting a putrid 29.6 percent from the floor in a home loss to Michigan State. Wisconsin's still a tough team to play, though, no question." -- Baumgardner
7. ↑ Purdue (10-8, 3-2): The Boilermakers are on a roll, but things are about to get real.
"The Boilers have won three in a row -- against Penn State, Nebraska and West Virginia. We'll see where, exactly, Purdue is at Thursday when it visits Michigan." -- Baumgardner
8. ↓ Illinois (15-5, 2-4): Talk about a tailspin. Illinois was the surprise team of the conference...until conference play began. Now they've lost four of six and have dropped completely out of the national polls. No worries though Illini, nothing like games against UM and at MSU to get things going, right?
"Did the Illini get things back on track with the win at Nebraska? Or was that just Nebraska?" -- Martin
Iowa (13-6, 2-4): The Hawkeyes are ninth in the league, but still, who wants to play them?
"Honestly, the only thing keeping Iowa this far down is the absence of a truly impressive win. The Hawkeyes came close against Indiana, Michigan State and Ohio State -- but no cigar." -- Baumgardner
10. Northwestern (12-8, 3-4): Watch out for the Purple Cats. They just took down Minnesota and are gaining confidence. Still, the dance may be a pipe-dream.
"Bill Carmody deserves a lot of credit for keeping the Wildcats competitive despite a depleted roster. Reggie Hearn and Jared Swopshire deserve some of that credit, too." -- Martin
11. Nebraska (10-10, 1-6):
"Someone had to win in a game against Penn State, and the Cornhuskers did." -- MLive Spartan beat writer Diamond Leung
That about says it all.
12. Penn State (8-11, 0-7):
"The Nittany Lions are off to an 0-7 start in Big Ten play. And I have no idea when that winless skid ends." -- Baumgarder
My guess? August.
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