B1G basketball Week 2 power rankings
There’s not much change in the Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings for Week 2, as the conference favorites largely beat up on inferior opponents in the first week of the season.
But the league had some impressive debuts, from transfers and freshmen.
Week 2 of our Big Ten power rankings:
(Previous week: 1)
Luka Garza flirted with basketball perfection on Friday, when he hit all but one of his 15 field goal attempts in scoring 41 points in Iowa’s slaughter of Southern. It might have been an even better outing, had coach Fran McCaffery allowed it; instead, Garza played only 10 second-half minutes in the blowout. Iowa moved up to No. 3 nationally, matching the high-mark during McCaffery’s 11 seasons, following a 2-0 week. Good news: Jordan Bohannon, back from a hip injury, averaged 26.8 minutes.
(Previous week: 2)
Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn are great, two of the best in the Big Ten and the country. But what’ll move Illinois to the next level is contributions from others, and the Fighting Illini got those in the first week of the season. Freshman guard Adam Miller was fantastic in his debut, hitting 10 of 12 shots, including six 3-pointers, in scoring 28. He followed it up with double-figure outings the next two days. Illinois had to escape an overtime challenge from Ohio, but Dosunmo was clutch.
(Previous week: 3)
Wisconsin led Arkansas-Pine Bluff 25-0, so not sure how much can be taken from an early runout. The Badgers have nine players averaging at least 16 minutes per game and each has totaled at least 9 points in two outings. That’s unlikely to hold up once competition picks up, but Greg Gard can take comfort knowing he has extra bodies on his bench, and in a season in which players might have to sit, due to sickness or contact tracing, it’s a huge benefit.
4. Michigan State
(Previous week: 4)
After a couple years of fighting injuries, it was unclear what kind of contribution Josh Langford would be able to provide. But so far so good through two games. The veteran, who missed most of last year with a foot injury, was back in the starting lineup for the Spartans’ first two games. It might take him a few games to shake off the shooting rust — he’s basically not played in two seasons — but hitting 4 triples in two games is a good start.
(Previous week: 5)
The bad news: Geo Baker “out until further notice,” per coach Steve Pikiell, after rolling his ankle in the opener. Rutgers doesn’t want a repeat of last season, when the savvy guard was in and out of the lineup. The good news: Senior guard Jacob Young has taken his game up a notch, showing off a variety of offensive moves to give the Knights more scoring punch. He’s scored 46 points in three games.
(Previous week: 6)
Through two games, graduate transfer Mike Smith has answered the call at point guard, a big question for Juwan Howard before the season started. The former All-Ivy Leaguer at Columbia has a 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio and is finding his spots to look for a shot. With so many offensive weapons — and add talented freshman Hunter Dickinson (an average of 15 points and 6 boards off the bench) to that list — Smith only needs to direct traffic.
7. Ohio State
(Previous week: 9)
Ohio State unveiled one of its transfers in the first week of the season, as Justice Sueing turned in a couple of big games. The former California forward — he sat on the OSU bench with fellow transfer Seth Towns (Harvard) — was outstanding in the Buckeyes’ victories, averaging 17 points on 12-of-18 shooting, including the same percentage (2-of-3) from deep. Towns is still sidelined due to his knee, but Sueing is giving OSU a much-needed shot in the arm offensively.
Maryland had to wonder where it would get offense this season, but hitting 25 3-pointers in three games — at a 44 percent clip — is a good start. Guard Eric Ayala was superb in three games, doubling his scoring average from a season ago (up to 16.3 points) while hitting 18 of 25 shots and 8 3-pointers. He, Aaron Wiggins and Darryl Morsell are going to be asked to carry a heavier load this season.
(Previous week: 8)
With Joey Brunk (back) sidelined, the Hoosiers have gone with a small three-guard lineup, with forwards Trayce Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson manning the front line. Rebounding is a concern. The Hoosiers beat Tennessee Tech by 30 in their opener, but outrebounded the inferior opponent by only 3. IU might be able to overcome that now, but not in the Big Ten. Brunk’s not an all-star, but he does things that the Hoosiers need, like defense and rebounding.
(Previous week: 7)
Purdue dropped the championship game of the Space Coast Challenge to Clemson, as it continues to deal with injury issues — and youth — at the start of the season. Veteran guard Eric Hunter Jr. is out, probably another month, with a knee injury. But the additional absence of freshman Jaden Ivey proved too much for the Boilermakers’ backcourt to overcome vs. the Tigers. But watch out: Purdue has another giant man: 7-foot-4 freshman Zach Edey made a huge splash, with 36 points in two games, while missing only 3 of his 18 field goal attempts.
(Previous week: 11)
Marcus Carr is now the centerpiece of Minnesota’s offense, and he’s loving it. The freewheeling, sharp-shooting guard averaged 31.5 points per game in the Gophers’ first two games, both wins, while hitting better than 53 percent of his field goals. It’s incredibly efficient to score 63 total points on only 41 field goal attempts. The two graduate transfers — Both Gach (Utah) and Liam Robbins (Drake) — had big debuts, averaging a combined 25.5 points and 14 boards per game.
12. Penn State
(Previous week: 12)
Jamari Wheeler started all 31 of the Nittany Lions’ games last season, but the point guard, a defensive specialist, had only three double-figure scoring games. So it was a surprise when the senior led Penn State with 18 in first game of the season. But telling too; the Lions need to find additional scorers to complement Myreon Jones and Myles Dread.
(Previous week: 13)
The rebuilding Cornhuskers squandered a 10-point second-half lead against Nevada in their second game of the season, seeing the Wolfpack win it on a 3-pointer with 7 seconds left. As expected, it was a who’s who for Nebraska, as Teddy Allen, who started his career at West Virginia before heading to Western Nebraska Community College then Nebraska, led the offense in the first three games, averaging 17.7 points.
(Previous week: 14)
The Wildcats are starting a week later than nearly everyone else, tipping off the season Wednesday vs. aforementioned Pine Bluff. Maybe Northwestern can also get up 25-nothing. Doubtful, as the ‘Cats are young and still in rebuild mode.