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Posted on Mon, May 9, 2011 : 5:49 a.m.

Additions and subtractions cause small shakeup in latest Big Ten basketball power rankings

By Michael Rothstein

The NBA early-entry deadline has come and gone and most teams have completed their spring signings. Big Ten basketball teams now have a better idea of where they stand entering the offseason.

While there weren’t many early-entry possibilities from the Big Ten, two teams thought to be at the top of the standings in 2011-12 -- Ohio State and Michigan -- were the most affected by players' decisions to stay or go.

The Buckeyes were bolstered. The Wolverines were hurt.

Both teams, though, remain at or near the top of the Big Ten offseason basketball rankings.

Here's the latest rankings, with each team's previous ranking, from April 11, listed in parenthesis.

1. Ohio State (1): Jared Sullinger returned. So did William Buford. While the Buckeyes won’t be the No. 1 team in the country in the preseason, they will be in almost everyone’s top 5 nationally and probably the only Big Ten team in the top 10. A potential starting lineup of Sullinger, Buford, point guard Aaron Craft, forward DeShaun Thomas and maybe incoming freshman Amir Williams — the fifth spot is open right now — would be the strongest in the Big Ten.

Sullinger-Smotrycz.jpg file photo

2. Michigan State (3): The Spartans had no early-entry candidates, but received a boost when former Valparaiso guard Brandon Wood decided to transfer to Michigan State for his final year of eligibility. Wood averaged 16.7 points at Valpo last year and will be about as good a one-year plug-in as MSU could have hoped for.

3. Michigan (2): Right now it is tough to quantify the loss of Darius Morris to the NBA because his most logical replacement, Trey Burke, isn’t on campus yet. The Big Ten is going to be a league in transition next season and the Wolverines, despite the loss of Morris, will have one of the smallest adjustments to make because of the presence of Tim Hardaway Jr., Zack Novak and Jordan Morgan.

4. Wisconsin (4): Status quo in Madison. Jordan Taylor will return for his senior year. Josh Gasser is there. So is Mike Bruesewitz. Coach Bo Ryan’s teams never finish lower than fourth in the Big Ten. Don’t expect it to happen next season.

5. Illinois (5): Illinois still has a lot of offseason questions to answer, but D.J. Richardson and Brandon Paul will be a dynamic backcourt along with Crandall Head.

6. Northwestern (6): No team will benefit more from a player returning to school than the Wildcats. John Shurna’s decision to come back for his senior year in Evanston means a chance at an elusive NCAA Tournament appearance. The coaching staff had a small shakeup when Mitch Henderson left to become the head coach at Princeton, but this team should contend in the league.

7. Indiana (7): This will be Tom Crean’s best shot so far as being competitive in the Big Ten. He returns the majority of his talent from a year ago, adds the first of two big recruiting classes and only loses Jeremiah Rivers.

8. Iowa (8): Tough to know what to make of the Hawkeyes right now. Melsahn Basabe is going to be one of the top 10 players in the Big Ten next year. Iowa also picked up the most interesting recruit of the spring, Anthony Hubbard, a 6-foot-5 guard who turned his life around after spending time in prison as a teenager. Now, he could make a quick impact for Iowa.

9. Purdue (9): The Boilermakers almost had a major loss, but not by a player. Coach Matt Painter was courted by Missouri, but he returned to Purdue and while the Boilermakers will take a step back next year, they’ll still be competitive. Whether Robbie Hummel is anywhere close to his pre-ACL tears form is a major question and why Purdue, for now, is this low.

10. Nebraska (11): Tough to say how the Cornhuskers, who flirted with the NCAA Tournament last season, will fit in during their first year in the Big Ten. But it is guaranteed the football team will have an easier transition than the basketball squad.

11. Minnesota (10): Trevor Mbakwe will be back for Minnesota. Ralph Sampson III will not, according to Myron Medcalf of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. It is really tough to see the Gophers being very good next year as they have lost much of their contributors: Blake Hoffarber, Al Nolen, Colton Iverson and Sampson. Mbakwe and Rodney Williams will have to carry Minnesota.

12. Penn State (12): The Nittany Lions received good news when Dayton guard Juwan Staten, who could be an impact player, announced he was transferring to Penn State. But he won’t be eligible until 2012-13, so it doesn’t help next year’s team.

Michael Rothstein covers Michigan basketball for He can be reached at (734) 623-2558, by email at or follow along on Twitter @mikerothstein .



Tue, May 10, 2011 : 1:38 p.m.

To continue, Izzo is going to have to work extremely hard to get back in front of Michigan. If he gets an offer from MSU alum Tom Gores to coach the Pistons, I can't imagine him turning it down. The Cavs were on the way down, and Izzo was smart enough to know he would have been in a no-win situation this season without LBJ. Since the Pistons are really bad right now, Izzo would be in a no-lose situation there, because the only way they can go is up. Either way, with or without Izzo, there should be turmoil in EL this season. They will probably split with Michigan out of sheer hatred, but I don't see them being the better team this year, and maybe not for a few years. I think the odds of Izzo leaving this year are at least 50-50. I also think the odds of him being able to get his team back to being elite within three years if he stays are about 50-50. Since he stated long ago that he wouldn't be coaching college basketball at this age, I can't imagine him wanting to expend all of the energy it will take rebuild his program, especially when the playing field is almost level in recruiting now. Izzo will now have to work harder than he used to, just to get the same results. Does he really want to go through that again? Time will tell. He may have one more run left, but he may not.


Tue, May 10, 2011 : 7:01 p.m.

Michigan is back but I think your ramblings on Izzo are fantasy. You have to be realistic MSU is going to be good based on recruiting and their coach. I think they signed a better recruiting class than Michigan this year that was pretty even overall but the MCDonalds All American from Indiana tilted the field towards MSU. Michigan is on the rise again, they are slow and steady and will eventually challenge for a big 10 championship..


Tue, May 10, 2011 : 1:25 p.m.

" Big Ten Power Rankings?" C'on, Michael: you ARE the Big Ten Power Rankings. How about a cool name like the Rothstein Power Index? I don't share your "optimism" for MSU, either. I still think Izzo's Cavalier Indulgence of last summer caused his team to tune him out. I also think that because JB is on the ethics committee, Izzo can't just walk into an instate recruit's house, say "Fab Five Scandal" or "dirty program," and get the kid and his parents to blow Michigan off anymore. This has caused the talent level up there to dip ever so slightly. For example, in the "old days" of Izzo recruiting dominance, he would have gotten Manny Harris to sign with MSU. That probably would have helped him "close the deal" in one or both of the Final Fours in 2009 and 2010.


Mon, May 9, 2011 : 2:25 p.m.

pretty good. i think wisc and mich should be swapped though.


Mon, May 9, 2011 : 12:44 p.m.

Amazing thing to me about Darius Morris going pro is that the others who have returned in the B10 (Sullinger, Taylor, Buford) were arguably better players and better pro prospects, yet they returned. As i stated in earlier posts, I wish Morris well and hope he succeeds, as he seems like a good guy and team player. But, I think he is chasing a dream which he is not yet ready for, and ignoring obvious warning signs. Michigan will survive, though probably not be as good this coming year, but the question is: Will Morris survive in basketball?

Michael Rothstein

Mon, May 9, 2011 : 1 p.m.

heartbreak, As far as prospects I'd agree with you on Sullinger. Morris is a better prospect than Taylor. Probably on par with Buford.