B1G basketball power rankings for Week 13
The question for Michigan following its long pause was whether the Wolverines could jump right back in where they left off.
The answer: Mostly.
Michigan, one of the NCAA Selection Committee’s top seeds in its early preview Saturday, fell behind at Wisconsin in its return from a COVID pause this weekend, before rallying for a second-half victory.
It was a validation for the Wolverines, and kept them at the top of our power rankings. Let’s take a look at the entire the Week 13 list.
(Previous week: 1)
Record: 14-1 overall, 9-1 Big Ten
It took Michigan a mere 20 minutes to shake off its rust from its near three-week COVID pause, as the Wolverines fell behind by 10 at halftime at Wisconsin before rallying in the second. It was an impressive recovery, as Michigan’s bigs outdueled Wisconsin’s. UM is 9-1, but there’s no denying it’s taken advantage of its soft schedule: None of its 9 wins came against the Big Ten’s top-4 teams. In fact, it hasn’t even played Ohio State, Illinois or Iowa yet. The Wolverines are good, but it’d be nice to see them against the same kind of gauntlet that others have faced.
2. Ohio State
(Previous week: 2)
Record: 17-4, 11-4
The Buckeyes have rolled their winning streak up to 6 games, thanks to victories against Maryland and Indiana in the last week. Before this streak — it’s 9 of 10 overall, with the only loss a 2-pointer to Purdue — few would have thought Ohio State had a chance to be in the conversation for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. But the Buckeyes and the Wolverines were in the NCAA Selection Committee’s early reveal as top seeds on Saturday. OSU might be the Big Ten’s most versatile team, in that it can win with offense, like it did a week ago vs. Iowa, or with defense, as it did against Maryland and IU.
(Previous week: 3)
Record: 14-5, 10-3
The Fighting Illini survived a scare at Nebraska on Friday night, needing overtime to get by the Cornhuskers. It helps when your team’s best player is Ayo Dosunmu. The star Illini guard might have single-handedly won the game in Lincoln, scoring 15 of his career-high 31 in a 4-plus-minute span late in the second half into overtime. Players like Dosunmu can carry a team in the second half of February and into March; perhaps Dosunmu is only just getting started with a magical run. This isn’t a team anyone would want to play right now.
(Previous week: 5)
Record: 15-6, 9-5
Iowa didn’t just beat Michigan State on Saturday; the Hawkeyes handed the Spartans their worst home loss of the Tom Izzo era. Iowa beat MSU 88-58, the Hawkeyes’ second straight win after they had lost a couple in a row, perhaps a sign that Iowa is headed in the right direction again. And get this: Iowa smoked Michigan with Luka Garza scoring only a season-low 8 points. But MSU’s focus on Garza had consequences, which Iowa took advantage of. The Hawkeyes hit 13-of-25 3-pointers.
(Previous week: 6)
Record: 12-7, 8-7
Rutgers has recovered from its January swoon to win 5 of its last 6 games, including a victory against Northwestern last week. In the 14-point win, Ron Harper scored 14 points with 11 rebounds, showing a bit of his early-season form. But the junior guard isn’t fully back in his groove. Harper has missed 19 consecutive 3-pointers and all but 5 of his previous 44. It just doesn’t seem reasonable that a player of Harper’s capable would remain in a shooting slump for such a prolonged period. But Rutgers is winning without him shooting well. What happens if he gets rolling again?
(Previous week: 7)
Record: 15-7, 9-6
A veteran, senior-laden team like Wisconsin should be able to score better than what it is. Right now, the Badgers are laboring to even hit the 60-point mark, which doesn’t seem right for a team with D’Mitrik Trice, Micah Potter and Nate Reuvers. But UW has scored only between 59 and 62 points in 5 of the last 7 games (the outliers being the back-to-back games vs. Penn State). It’s sunk the Badgers to the second-lowest scoring average in the Big Ten, only a few ticks above 70 points per game.
(Previous week: 4)
Record: 13-8, 8-6
Since he’s returned from his COVID quarantine, Sasha Stefanovic hasn’t been the same, missing all 7 of his field-goal attempts, including 5 3-pointers in two games. Purdue needs Stefanovic, the Boilermakers’ second-leading scorer before he was sidelined, to get his legs again. If not, Purdue might find more outcomes like at Minnesota, when the Boilermakers led late but needed a big shot to maintain distance. Purdue will be a changed team once Stefanovic gets going.
(Previous week: 10)
Record: 13-8, 6-8
The Gophers scored a big win over Purdue on Thursday, one that might go a long way toward securing Minnesota a place in the Big Ten. Lose that one, and suddenly the Gophers’ last month looks sketchy, at best. But Marcus Carr came up huge late vs. the Boilermakers — he even banked in a 3-pointer — to rally his team. Minnesota will go as he and Gabe Kalscheur go. Against Purdue, they hit 7 of 14 3-pointers, but they were only 2-of-10 three days later in a loss at Maryland.
(Previous week: 8)
Record: 11-9, 6-7
Here’s Indiana’s problem: Its lineup doesn’t scare defenses. At any one time, there are two Hoosiers on the court that the opponent doesn’t have to worry about. So against a team that doesn’t defend — like Iowa — IU can generate enough offense to score an upset. But play against a great defense, like vs. Ohio State, and Indiana’s sub-par offense gets exposed. It’s been this way all season, and it’s why the Hoosiers look inconsistent. The Hoosiers’ postseason shelf life is going to be heavily dependent on matchups.
Record: 11-10, 5-9
If Maryland is to make a charge to the NCAA Tournament, it’s going to need wins. Hello, Nebraska. The Terrapins will take on the Cornhuskers on back-to-back nights — both games in the Xfinity Center — on Tuesday and Wednesday. And Maryland has a very favorable schedule down the stretch, likely favored in 5 of its last 6 games. If the Terps get to 10 Big Ten wins, with victories in 6 of 7 before the conference tournament, they will almost assuredly be in the Dance.
11. Penn State
(Previous week: 9)
Record: 7-10, 4-9
Penn State had an outside chance of sneaking in the NCAA Tournament but that changed with a home loss to Nebraska on Sunday. The Nittany Lions are out, barring a late-season charge that seems impossible now. Too bad, because Penn State had done some good things this season, playing hard despite being woefully undersized and challenging just about every game it played.
12. Michigan State
(Previous week: 12)
Record: 10-8, 4-8
Michigan State’s NCAA Tournament hopes most likely died in the Breslin Center Saturday, when the Spartans lost to Iowa by 30 points. It was ugly. It would be the end of a 22-year streak of NCAA Tournament appearances. Could the Spartans still get in? Yes. Its last 5 games would all be Quad 1 (or close to it) victories, but what would lead anyone to think Michigan State could get on such a roll? Instead, it seems like Tom Izzo and this flawed Spartan roster won’t be getting a Selection Sunday invite.
(Previous week: 14)
Record: 5-12, 1-9
Nebraska jumps itself out of the Big Ten cellar following its 1-point win at Penn State Sunday, with Teddy Allen — probably the only Cornhuskers worth knowing — hitting the game-winner with 12 seconds left. It wasn’t as if Nebraska played a perfect game; far from it. The Huskers went 8 minutes in the second half without scoring. But perhaps we should have seen this coming, after Nebraska took Illinois into overtime in its last outing. Could the Huskers, who are playing about every other day, play spoiler down the stretch? They’ve already now eliminated the Nittany Lions from remote NCAA chance.
(Previous week: 13)
Record: 6-12, 3-11
In their last 3 games, the Wildcats have been competitive, including a double-overtime loss to Indiana in Evanston. But it’s not been good enough to actually win, so the losing streak has now reached 11 games. Northwestern has seen a bit of a boost since moving Chase Audige to the point; he had 19 points, 4 assists and 4 steals in the loss to the Hoosiers, then followed it up with 11 points in a loss at Rutgers. The sophomore guard has been one of the few bright spots for the ‘Cats this season.