You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Tue, Jan 31, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

B1G Hoops Rankings: Ohio State head and shoulders above the rest at midway point

By Nick Baumgardner

The Big Ten season is halfway over.

And, as of now, it looks a lot like it has over the past two seasons -- with Ohio State leading the way.

The Buckeyes have flexed their muscles of late, winning four straight games by double-digit totals following a loss earlier this month at Illinois.

But this thing's not a done deal yet. Six teams are less than two and a half games back of league-leading Ohio State.

Here are this week's rankings:


Ohio State's Jared Sullinger celebrates during a 64-49 win over Michigan on Sunday.

AP Photo

Driver's seat
No. 3 Ohio State (19-3, 7-2)

Last week: W 78-54 vs. Penn State, W 64-49 vs. No. 20 Michigan

Up next: at No. 19 Wisconsin (Saturday)

Ohio State hits the Big Ten's halfway point in first place. And, if the Buckeyes' previous four victories say anything about the future, they won't be leaving their perch for some time. Ohio State has more talent than anyone else in the conference, by a wide margin as well. If the Buckeyes don't win the league, they'll have no one to blame but themselves.


No. 9 Michigan State (17-4, 6-2)

Last week: W 68-52 vs. Minnesota

Up next: at Illinois (tonight), vs. No. 23 Michigan (Sunday)

Michigan State played just once last week and, sort of by default, moves up to the front of the contender list. However, the Spartans don't have an easy week with games at Illinois and at home against Michigan. Sweep this week, and Michigan State takes an iron grip on the league's No. 2 spot.

No. 23 Michigan (16-6, 6-3)

Last week: W 66-64 at Purdue, L 65-49 at No. 4 Ohio State

Up next: vs. No. 20 Indiana (Wednesday), at No. 9 Michigan State (Sunday)

I just can't bury Michigan for losing by 15 at Ohio State. Because, well, that happens to most teams. The Wolverines got sketchy efforts from several rotation players, yet still had a chance to pull within five points in the game's closing minutes. Michigan fell out of a first-place tie, but a strong week against two more ranked opponents gets the Wolverines right back in the mix.

No. 19 Wisconsin (17-5, 6-3)

Last week: W 57-50 vs. No. 16 Indiana

Up next: at Penn State (tonight), vs. No. 3 Ohio State (Saturday)

OK, so, it's safe to say the Badgers are back. Wisconsin started Big Ten play 1-3, but have since won five in a row. Bo Ryan's bunch is back to playing lock-down defense and Jordan Taylor is starting to look like himself again. However, how "back" the Badgers are will depend on how things shake out against Ohio State this weekend in Madison.

No. 20 Indiana (17-5, 5-5)

Last week: L 57-50 at Wisconsin, W 103-89 vs. Iowa

Up next: at No. 23 Michigan (Wednesday), at Purdue (Saturday)

Indiana hit the century mark at home against Iowa this weekend, but the Hoosiers also gave up 89 points in the process. Indiana remains the top scoring offense in the Big Ten (79.5 ppg), however, the Hoosiers are third-worst when it comes to scoring defense. It's been a lingering issue all season, and if allowed to continue, it will come back to haunt the Hoosiers at a bad, bad time this season.

On the fringe

Purdue (15-7, 5-4)

Last week: L 66-64 vs. Michigan, W 58-56 at Northwestern

Up next: vs. No. 20 Indiana (Saturday)

Thanks to a big-time shot by Robbie Hummel, Purdue avoided a three-game losing skid just in time for its first rivalry matchup with Indiana. The Boilermakers have been up and down this season, but a home win over the hated Hoosiers could give Purdue the shot of life it's been looking for down the stretch.

Minnesota (16-6, 4-5)

Last week: L 68-52 at No. 10 Michigan State, W 77-72 (OT) vs. Illinois

Up next: at Iowa (Wednesday), at Nebraska (Sunday)

Tubby Smith continues to be a Coach of the Year dark horse for his work without Trevor Mbakwe. The Golden Gophers were over-matched against Michigan State, but bounced back for revenge against Illinois. I would, in no way, want any part of this team in the Big Ten Tournament or beyond.

Illinois (15-6, 4-4)

Last week: L 77-72 (OT) at Minnesota

Up next: vs. No. 9 Michigan State (tonight), vs. Northwestern (Saturday)

Illinois fans are restless, and Bruce Weber is hearing it. The Illini have dropped three straight, and the pressure appears to be building for Weber in Champaign. He can ease a good deal of that by beating Michigan State tonight.

Outside looking in

Northwestern (12-8, 2-6)

Last week: L 58-56 vs. Purdue

Up next: vs. Nebraska (Thursday), at Illinois (Sunday)

The Wildcats are free-falling. Northwestern has now dropped three straight, and five of its last six. Bill Carmody's bunch was right there at home against Purdue, but couldn't hang on. Northwestern's NCAA Tournament hopes now appear to be on life-support now. The Wildcats need a run, and fast.

Nebraska (11-9, 3-6)

Last week: W 79-73 at Iowa

Up next: at Northwestern (Thursday), vs. Minnesota (Sunday)

Nebraska has gone 3-2 since starting league play 0-4, a nice rebound, considering where the Cornhuskers were. Long story short, though, Nebraska just has no firepower -- scoring only 61.7 points per game.

Iowa (11-11, 3-6)

Last week: L 79-73 vs. Nebraska, L 103-89 at Indiana

Up next: vs. Minnesota (Wednesday), vs. Penn State (Saturday)

Fran McCaffery said his team lacked toughness last week. It also lacked defense. Iowa can't be giving up 79 points against paltry Nebraska before allowing Indiana to hit the century mark. Inexcusable.

Penn State (10-11, 2-6)

Last week: L 78-54 at No. 4 Ohio State

Up next: vs. No. 19 Wisconsin (tonight), at Iowa (Saturday)

Penn State continues to be the sole resident of the Big Ten's basement. The good news? The Nittany Lions had a week off to think about it.

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan basketball for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.

Want to stay connected to Wolverine basketball in your Facebook newsfeed? “Like”'s Michigan Basketball News & Views.



Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 8:14 a.m.

Michigan being a contender or not will be answered with the next two games against 2 contenders of the B1G. IU and MSU. Win both or split then they are contenders, lose both then they are pretenders. This team is not that good, they struggle to win and they lose one game in two the past 2 weeks. We will see in the next 2 games.


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 4:34 a.m.

Sorry to say because I like the coverage, this article series is for the slappies. The theme seems to be to take our team and raise us as high as we dare over higher ranked teams despite a preponderance of national opinion. I haven't seen us rank ourselves any lower than the API since this started, but we always manage to land a spot or two better than the rest of the country sees us. These rankings are the same national opinion that we use to justify ourselves when we are ranked where we want to be. Selling, not buying. This is two weeks in a row. Just my $0.02


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 3:42 a.m.

Its because they have Urban Meyer


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 3:27 a.m.

Hey Eric and manbearpig: What's that I hear? Oh yeah! A big balloon deflating after your Sparties lost on the ROAD just like the Wolverines. Let's face it--winning on the road is very hard and you should not be so hard on UM until your team gets it together. For those who look at MSU road wins: Let's look at them. at Eastern Michigan at Gonzaga (a good road win) at Nebraska (in conference, but among the worst teams) at Wisconsin (a good road win, but really a stolen win) Losses: at UM, at NW, at Illinois (and neutral sites against Duke and UNC). All in all--I still fail to see why MSU has garnered respect more than Michigan this year, except based on past performance. Michigan beat Wisconsin, beat Northwestern, beat Purdue on the road, almost came back against Arkansas at a tough environment, lost to UVA on the road (toughest defense to date except for OSU), lost to Duke just like MSU, lost to Ohio. Only really bad loss was the Iowa loss. And guess who is tied? Yup--MSU and UM.


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 3:05 a.m.

Well Nick can drop his Spartys from the contenders after that ugly loss tonight!


Tue, Jan 31, 2012 : 9:07 p.m.

Michigan has to many flaws that will soon be exposed on the road to be considered a true contender. These include very limited depth, poor rebounding (Beilein can rationalize any way he wants but it's obvious that his players are not gifted rebounders), average talent (except for Burke), and over reliance on the 3pt shot. They are good defenders and that will help, but they don't have enough overall team strength to win consistently on the road and become a true contender.


Tue, Jan 31, 2012 : 7:50 p.m.

The editor picking these B10 headlines is a joke. I guess 0.5 games is "Head and Shoulders" above MSU. It must be because OSU just beat college basketball powerhouse UM. If OSU wins the league, it will be by one or two games, which historically hasn't been "Head and Shoulders" above the rest of the conference. And how the heck is IU still a Contender at 5-5? Can I write for this paper? LOL


Tue, Jan 31, 2012 : 5:54 p.m.

"Head and shoulders above the rest"??? MSU is 1/2 game back and they will be in a tie with a win over Illinois tonight. How can that be considered head and shoulders above. I do not get it.


Tue, Jan 31, 2012 : 4:27 p.m.

Interesting placement. I don't know why MSU gets so much respect (other than respect from past performance). Michigan continues to struggle through wins and losses, but this is good for them because under Beilein, they have tended to finish strong and they have gotten through a lot of the B10 season with a good record. Unlike past years, Michigan has struggled but won some close games (Purdue, Minnesota, NW) and they are 6-3 rather than 3-6. Only bad loss this year is that Iowa loss. (If you go by the theory that in college bball that some losses don't really hurt you)


Tue, Jan 31, 2012 : 11:09 p.m.

The road records? I think msu has 4 road wins and michigan has 1


Tue, Jan 31, 2012 : 9:07 p.m.

@Eric: I missed the part where you talked about the MSU loss at Northwestern. And UM will finish .500 in conference? I am glad that you told me that so I don't have to watch the games or follow them for the rest of the year. Did you predict also that MSU will go to the Sugar Bowl and beat Arkansas?


Tue, Jan 31, 2012 : 7:45 p.m.

Why shouldn't MSU get respect? MSU is 0.5 games behind OSU and has actually beaten a ranked team on the road, unlike UM. UM will finish .500 in conference and lose in the first or second round of the NCAA tournament and that'll be another great year for them. Congrats


Tue, Jan 31, 2012 : 3:16 p.m.

So if a 1 point loss is humbling, what is a 15 point loss?