B1G basketball Week 8 power rankings
Michigan is making a charge up the power rankings, keeping its undefeated start to the season intact with perhaps its biggest win of the season.
But is the Wolverines’ 10-0 record enough to climb to the top?
Let’s find out more by taking a look at our Week 8 power rankings.
(Previous week: 1)
Record: 11-2 overall, 5-1 Big Ten
The Hawkeyes avenged their only Big Ten loss of the season Sunday, when they beat up Minnesota on the return trip to Iowa City. In the win, Jordan Bohannon turned in the best game of his career and perhaps the best game, at least by someone not named Luka Garza, in the league this season. The senior guard had 19 points and career-highs of 14 assists and 7 rebounds. Bohannon, who missed most of last season with a hip injury, was slow to get going this season, but since the Christmas Day loss to the Golden Gophers at the Barn, he’s been on fire. If Bohannon keeps it up — he’s averaging nearly 19 points per game during a four-game winning streak — then Iowa might indeed be the team to beat in the Big Ten.
(Previous week: 4)
Record: 10-0, 5-0
With every victory, now up to 10 straight to start the season, Michigan proves it’s more and more legitimate. The latest was a 25-point beatdown of Minnesota last Wednesday. Among the great front lines in the Big Ten — Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin — the Wolverines are right there, particularly with the continued emergence of Hunter Dickinson. The freshman center had a career-high 28 points on 12-of-15 shooting vs. Minnesota, with 8 rebounds. Anytime Michigan can get a combined 54 points and 20 rebound from Dickinson, Isaiah Livers and Franz Wagner, it’s most likely going to be a good day. A huge showdown looms, as Wisconsin comes to Ann Arbor on Tuesday.
(Previous week: 6)
Record: 10-2, 4-1
In getting their seventh victory in their last eight games, the Badgers had to work extra, going to two overtimes before beating Indiana Thursday. Sophomore forward Tyler Wahl came up big, especially in the second overtime, as he hit two 3-pointers — he had been only 2-of-9 on the season — to help stave off Indiana’s upset bid. D’Mitrik Trice hit a big triple in the second overtime as well. The senior guard isn’t going to win Big Ten Player of the Year, but he’s putting together a fine season, averaging 14.8 points per game with a 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. And he’s got a knack for the big shot.
(Previous week: 2)
Record: 9-4, 5-2
Illinois can’t be what it wants to be if it doesn’t get consistent contributions from those not named Ayo Dosunmu or Kofi Cockburn. Those two were great in Sunday’s home loss to Maryland, combining for 44 points and 18 rebounds, but the Fighting Illini got little from everyone else, only 19 points and 16 boards. It didn’t help that veteran guard Trent Frazier was limited after an elbow injury; he played, but not well. And backup point Andre Curbelo, who the Illini need to provide some scoring punch off the bench, put in 8 points but on 4-of-12 shooting.
5. Ohio State
(Previous week: 8)
Record: 9-3, 3-3
Ohio State has spent its Big Ten season alternating wins and losses. It’s on the uptick now, having beaten Rutgers at home on Saturday. The Buckeyes, who have the Big Ten’s third-best scoring defense, stifled Scarlet Knights guards Geo Baker and Ron Harper Jr. like few others have this season, holding them to 15 points on 7-of-22 shooting, including 1-of-9 from 3-point range. OSU won without point guard C.J. Walker, who is out indefinitely with ligament damage in his right (off) hand. It’s been an ongoing injury, since before the season, but only lately has it become too much to play through.
(Previous week: 3)
Record: 10-4, 3-4
The Gophers were winless in two games the last week, but they faced a couple big challenges, going to Ann Arbor and Iowa City. No shame in dropping games against two of the best in the Big Ten. But it does mean that the road to a championship for the dark horse Golden Gophers has become much more difficult. Outside of Liam Robbins, Minnesota doesn’t have much post scoring, leaving it to the collection of guards, led by Marcus Carr, to carry the offensive load. But when they’re inefficient, like vs. Iowa, it makes it darn near impossible to keep up the scoring pace. A rematch vs. Michigan in the Barn looms on Saturday.
(Previous week: 11)
Record: 8-5, 3-3
Purdue looked like it might be dead at Michigan State, down four with 12 seconds left, but it made a couple hustle plays — credit to Eric Hunter Jr. and Mason Gillis, who otherwise had ho-hum games — to gain a couple extra possessions late. They allowed Trevion Williams to hit the game-winner in the closing seconds Friday. The game had to boost Williams’ confidence, especially considering he alone outscored the Spartans 24-23 in the second half. MSU might be limited, but winning at Breslin is no simple matter, so doing so showed growth for the young Boilermakers.
(Previous week: 5)
Record: 7-4, 3-4
The Scarlet Knights haven’t won in 2021, dropping their last three games, the most shocking a 45-point effort in a 23-point loss at Michigan State. And Rutgers has lost four of its last five, dating back to a win over Illinois on Dec. 20. Hard to pinpoint one thing that has gone wrong, as it’s more of a combination: Rutgers isn’t a great 3-point shooting team and it’s atrocious from the foul line (only 58 percent), but the biggest issue is that the Knights need Baker and Harper to play well consistently and they’re not doing so.
(Previous week: 10)
Record: 8-5, 3-3
The Hoosiers built an early lead at Nebraska on Sunday and escaped embarrassment when they held on to beat the Cornhuskers. Perhaps no team in the country plays to the level of its competition more than the Hoosiers, who are 3-1 in their last four games with each being decided by single-digits and two in overtime. Especially with Armaan Franklin out (ankle), the Hoosiers need more of what they got Sunday night from Rob Phinisee, who scored a team-high 18 with 5 rebounds and 4 assists in the win over the Huskers. It’s been a trying year for Phinisee, with him being shifted in and out of the lineup, but if he can be a consistent perimeter threat, it makes IU a different team. He’ll get his hometown Boilermakers in Assembly Hall on Thursday.
(Previous week: 7)
Record: 6-4, 3-3
Since its 3-0 start in the Big Ten, Northwestern has dropped three straight by progressively wider margins of 15, 19 and 25 points. Of course, those are also against the then-No. 5 (Iowa), No. 7 (Michigan) and No. 14 (Illinois) ranked teams in the country. The problem for Northwestern is that it doesn’t get much easier, with games vs. Ohio State and Iowa in its next two outings. Heck, it might only be a favorite in three remaining games (at Penn State Jan. 23 and vs. Maryland and Nebraska on March 3 and 7).
11. Michigan State
(Previous week: 9)
Record: 8-4, 2-4
The Spartans are flawed at two of the most critical positions on a basketball team: Point guard and center. The latter in particular hurt against Purdue on Friday, when Trevion Williams took advantage of the lack of interior defensive presence to score 26 points, including 24 in the second half. Still, the Spartans could have won, considering they held Purdue to only 55 points, but Rocket Watts is struggling at the point and they aren’t getting much else from others. This might be the most limited MSU roster in years.
Record: 7-6, 2-5
The Terrapins have won only two games in the Big Ten but they’ve come at conference frontrunners Wisconsin and Illinois, the latest being in Champaign on Sunday. Hard to explain, especially when considering that the average margin of loss in the other games is 11.6 points. Only a three-point loss at Purdue has been within a possession at the final buzzer. Maryland is second-to-last in the Big Ten in scoring output, so when it can defend, like holding explosive Illinois 20 points below its season average, then the Terrapins have a chance. They did it against the Badgers and Illini and not so much against everyone else.
13. Penn State
(Previous week: 13)
Record: 3-4, 0-3
Due to issues related to COVID-19, Penn State has paused its team activities through at least Tuesday, when it was supposed to have hosted Rutgers. In total, the Nittany Lions will have missed four games, dating to a Dec. 30 loss at Indiana. PSU is next scheduled to play, assuming it can get back to practice, at Purdue on Sunday.
(Previous week: 14)
Record: 4-8, 0-5
The Huskers don’t have a very deep frontcourt and now they are dealing with the temporary absence of Yvan Ouedraogo, who is out with a health issue (believed to be COVID). The sophomore forward is averaging 5.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, and without him — he’ll miss at least another week — Nebraska loses one of its best post defenders and rebounders. It hurt in the loss to Indiana, when the Huskers were beaten soundly on the glass and gave up 16 second-chance points.