B1G basketball Week 10 power rankings
Through the first half of the Big Ten season, Michigan has proven to be the league’s best team.
But now, it’s idled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Wolverines basketball program, along with the rest of the teams in its athletic department, have been forced into a two-week pause by the state.
But on the court, Michigan has proven to be fantastic, its last win coming Friday against an improved Purdue squad in Mackey Arena. How does the rest of the league stack up? Let’s take a look at our Week 10 power rankings.
(Previous week: 3)
Record: 13-1, 8-1
Through the first half of the Big Ten season, Michigan has shown to be among the leaders, if not the outright best team in the league. Unfortunately, it’s now idle, the announcement coming a day after the Wolverines’ dominated surging Purdue in West Lafayette. The state’s health department put a two-week pause on the entire Michigan athletic department due to an outbreak of a particularly contagious variant of COVID-19. Without an ability to practice, let alone play in the next three games, how will the Wolverines respond once they hit the court again Feb. 11 vs. Illinois? Before the pause, they had won two straight following their only loss of the season.
(Previous week: 1)
Record: 12-3 overall, 6-2 Big Ten
Iowa is in the midst of an extended layoff following its worst loss of the season, when the offense mysteriously disappeared in a home loss to Indiana. The Hawkeyes went more than 11 minutes without a field goal, a bizarrely long drought for a team with so many weapons. Did it expose an Iowa weakness? Well, if CJ Fredrick is out — he missed the second half and didn’t look right in the first vs. IU due to a lower-leg injury — then the Hawkeyes are without one of their best perimeter shooters. And defenses aren’t as stressed by trying to cover the many Hawkeyes’ weapons.
3. Ohio State
(Previous week: 4)
Record: 12-4, 6-4
The Buckeyes have been road warriors of late, winning their last three away from Columbus: At Rutgers, at Illinois and at Wisconsin. It’s been an impressive stretch — the Buckeyes have won four of their last five, the only loss being a two-point defeat to Purdue — particularly considering OSU had been without its top two point guards. But starter C.J. Walker returned vs. the Badgers after missing four games with torn ligaments in his right (off) hand. He finished with 8 points, 3 assists and a steal off the bench, showing that the senior will be a factor in the last month of the season.
(Previous week: 2)
Record: 12-4, 6-3
Wisconsin doesn’t often lose at home, but it did for only the second time in its last 20 games in the Kohl Center when Ohio State upended the Badgers on Saturday. In a pandemic-related scheduling change, the Badgers will get a rematch at Maryland Wednesday before playing Penn State back-to-back. Wisconsin has a senior-laden team, but a freshman has made his impact felt of late; Jonathan Davis is doing a little bit of everything in filling gaps in the Badgers’ lineup. Off the bench, he’s averaging 6.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game in about 24 minutes.
(Previous week: 6)
Record: 11-6, 6-4
Purdue was stung by news that guard Sasha Stefanovic, the Boilermakers’ best perimeter threat and second-leading scorer, will miss two more games — and three in total — after testing positive for COVID-19. It killed the Boilermakers in their Friday night loss to Michigan, which ended a four-game winning streak. Maybe the Boilermakers wouldn’t have beaten the league leader with Stefanovic, but they likely wouldn’t have been blown out. But Purdue will have to adjust without one of its few veterans, likely needing to squeeze a little more production out of freshman guards Jaden Ivey and Brandon Newman. At least Purdue has time to work it out, with its next game not coming until Minnesota visits on Saturday.
(Previous week: 7)
Record: 10-5, 6-3
The Illini had been reeling — relatively speaking — before playing one of their best games in weeks vs. Penn State early last week, rocking the Nittany Lions by 14. It’s a 10-day break until Illinois’ next game Friday vs. Iowa in Champaign. Before the season, this game might have been circled as the biggest of the year. Now, the loser is going to find itself multiple games out of first place in the loss column halfway through the Big Ten season. Not insurmountable, but the winner has an easier path to catching Michigan.
(Previous week: 5)
Record: 11-5, 4-5
Minnesota has been one of the more difficult teams to figure out, especially of late. How can a team with so many offensive weapons struggle to score. It’s 2-4 since Dec. 31, and in those four losses, Minnesota has scored less than 60 points three times. The worst was the last outing, when the Golden Gophers scored only 49 points in a home loss to Maryland. Outside of Marcus Carr, who had 25 points on 8-of-14 shooting, Minnesota was abysmal. The rest of the team — the whole team — had only 6 field goals in 32 attempts, a miserable 18.8 percent. Players like Gabe Kalscheur and Both Gach are too good to combine for 2 points on 0-10 shooting.
(Previous week: 9)
Record: 8-6, 4-6
Rutgers ended its losing streak, which had reached five games, with a road win at Indiana. Coach Steve Pikiell made some lineup tweaks in an effort to wake up his team, and those paid off, as the Scarlet Knights held on to beat IU Sunday. Something had to be done to revive Rutgers, which had been one of the Big Ten’s most dangerous teams before the slide. The Scarlet Knights, though, had looked uninspired in a loss to Penn State three days before the IU game, going through the motions without much resolve in an eight-point loss. Rutgers can still rebound to make the NCAA Tournament, but it’s going to have to turn its one win into several.
(Previous week: 8)
Record: 9-7, 4-5
Just when it looks like Indiana is ready to turn a corner, like with its upset of then-No. 4 Iowa on Thursday, the Hoosiers revert again. It happened with the loss to Rutgers on Sunday, when IU fell behind then couldn’t get enough stops to complete a rally. Indiana’s defense at Iowa was amazing, when it limited the Hawkeyes without a field goal for 11 second-half minutes. But then against the Scarlet Knights, Indiana allowed Rutgers to score on 19 of its 31 two-point field goal attempts, a 61 percent clip.
Record: 9-7, 3-6
Maryland scored its third big road victory of the Big Ten season Saturday, when it smoked then-No. 17 Minnesota. It was the third road win for the Terrapins over a ranked opponent this season, joining Wisconsin and Illinois. So the Terrapins have that going for them as they seek to make a move in the crowded Big Ten. But Maryland’s home Big Ten record is 0-3. The good thing is that Maryland has six of its remaining nine scheduled games at home — and maybe a seventh, if Nebraska gets put back on — but perhaps that’s a bad thing too, since the Terps haven’t played as well in the Xfinity Center.
11. Michigan State
(Previous week: 10)
Record: 8-4, 2-4
The Spartans are hoping to resume their season Thursday at Rutgers, after being laid off the last two-and-a-half weeks due to a program pandemic pause. The last we had heard from Michigan State, it had lost at home to Purdue by a point, ending a modest two-game winning streak. If the Spartans are to get back into the NCAA picture, they need wins, and the Feb. 6 game at Michigan has already been nuked due to the Wolverines’ COVID issues.
12. Penn State
(Previous week: 13)
Record: 5-6, 2-5
Interim coach Jim Ferry has the Nittany Lions playing incredibly hard, and that paid off last week, with back-to-back victories against Rutgers and Northwestern. Before the season is over, Penn State is going to knock off one of the league leaders, potentially influencing who wins the title. It would have played Michigan Wednesday, but that game is off now; however, it’s next three are against Ohio State and Wisconsin twice.
(Previous week: 11)
Record: 6-8, 3-7
The 3-0 Big Ten start, which vaulted Northwestern into the AP Top 25, seems so long ago. Now, the Wildcats are 3-7 in the league, having lost their last seven games. At least Saturday’s loss at Penn State was competitive, only three points, as compared to the other six losses that were by a minimum of 10 points each. This might not end soon. Although Northwestern has young talent, it’s woefully inconsistent on offense and not good defensively. And the Wildcats will be underdogs in each of their remaining 10 games.
(Previous week: 14)
Record: 4-8, 0-5
When will Nebraska play again? It’s next scheduled game is Feb. 3 at Michigan State, which would mark the end of five straight postponements dating back to the Jan. 10 game vs. Indiana. It seems almost impossible that the Big Ten can make up the six Big Ten games that Nebraska has missed. Perhaps the league should just award those opponents — Purdue, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Iowa and Penn State — an extra victory.