Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings, Week 3: Badgers unbeaten, unloved, unable to dethrone Wolverines
Two of them (the Hoosiers and the Golden Gophers) had to play each other and the undefeated Wolverines were headed into enemy territory to take on the Buckeyes.
We knew someone had to fall. But apparently, the key is to fall together.
Minnesota fell first. Then down went Michigan. The Hoosiers were a shoe-in for No. 1. Then down went Indiana. Finally, clarity. One team stood atop the conference as the lone unbeaten.
But alas, Bo Ryan's Badgers got no love from our MLive staff. The losses suffered by our Top 3 apparently cancelled each other out in the minds of the voters, and Wisconsin's early season losses (including at No. 10 Florida, at No. 25 Marquette and home against No. 12 Creighton) remain unforgivable.
1. Michigan (16-1, 3-1): The Wolverines had the No. 1 ranking in the country staring them in the face. But Columbus proved to be too hostile to remain unbeaten and the Wolverines seemed destined to lose their Big Ten throne to Indiana. But when the dust settled, Michigan found itself just where they began, atop the MLive Big Ten basketball power rankings.
"In a normal week, the Wolverines would have slipped in a power rankings poll. But other top Big Ten teams stumbled as well recently. One loss, on the road, against a talented rival (Ohio State) with a strong comeback...I still have Michigan on top. But the separation between the Wolverines and other top-tier conference teams is very, very slim." -- MLive writer Tim Martin
2. Indiana (15-2, 3-1): For one half against Minnesota, the Hoosiers looked like the best team in the nation. But three days later the Badgers shocked them at home. End result: Indiana stays just where they were to begin with, a hair behind Michigan.
"The Hoosiers were all the rage after nearly blowing a 23-point home lead against Minnesota. We found out this team is, in fact, flawed Tuesday when Wisconsin continued its dominance over Tom Crean inside Assembly Hall." -- MLive Michigan basketball beat writer Nick Baumgardner.
↑ Minnesota (15-2, 3-1): The Golden Gophers may have lost to Indiana head-to-head, but they share this week's No. 2 slot. But with Michigan headed to the Barn Thursday night, they have a chance to rise all the way to the top.
"I'm not ready to push the Badgers above the Golden Gophers just yet. Minnesota played terrible for about 10 minutes against IU, but like Michigan, it still almost pulled off a win. The Gophers are still very, very dangerous." -- Baumgardner
4. ↑ Wisconsin (13-4, 4-0): Don't shoot the messenger. The Badgers are the only undefeated team left in conference play and are riding high after quietly stealing one in Bloomington. But it will take more to impress these MLive fellas, and they'll have the chance to do so soon with games against Michigan State and Minnesota on the horizon.
"Every year, the Badgers have doubters. Every year – during the conference season, anyway -- Bo Ryan proves the doubters wrong. Wisconsin has won seven straight, is the Big 10’s hottest team and could rank higher on this list after a great win like the one at Indiana. But the Badgers did lose four non- conference games, and that keeps them downgraded a bit." -- Martin
5. ↑ Ohio State (13-3, 3-1): The Buckeyes are officially our most fluctuating team, dropping quick after being crushed by the Illini and rising right back up after handing Michigan their first loss of the season. Up next: A trip to the Breslin center.
"The Buckeyes absolutely had to beat Michigan at home Sunday, and they did just that. OSU still has its issues offensively, but when this team wants to lock it down, it can really lock it down. Aaron Craft is the best on-ball defender in America." -- Baumgardner
6. ↓ Michigan State (15-3, 4-1): You'd think after a week in which the Spartans went 2-0 and the teams above them lost that Tom Izzo and Co. would reap the rewards and move up by default. Not so. Wins over Nebraska and Penn State failed to wow anyone.
"The Spartans were "meh" at home against Nebraska. Then Branden Dawson and Adreian Payne got into a fistfight in State College before MSU held off the Nittany Lions. All the while, Tom Izzo looks to be exhausted. MSU has to get it together, and fast, OSU comes calling this weekend." -- Baumgardner
7. ↓ Illinois (14-4, 1-3): Started strong but quickly crashing.
"The Illini have hit a rough patch with two straights losses. Again, that’s the trouble with a team that relies so much on the 3-pointer. Illinois has to score inside and rebound better to consistently hang with the conference’s best." -- Martin
8. ↓ Iowa (12-5, 1-3): The Hawkeyes continue to be a team you can't overlook but who can't quite hang with the big boys. But something tells me they're on the verge of an upset and the Badgers are headed to town this Saturday.
9. Purdue (9-8, 3-2): The Paint Crew can barely keep their head above water this season, walking the fine line of .500 and picking up conference wins against league's basement. Up next: West Virginia. Wait...what?
10. Northwestern (10-7, 1-3): The Purple Cats solidified one thing this week: They're not the worst team in the league. But a win over Penn State won't keep them ahead of the Cornhuskers for long.
11. Nebraska (9-7, 0-5): If only Tim Miles' passion translated into more wins for the Cornhuskers. But there's nothing better to soothe the soul - and get in the win column - than a trip to Happy Valley.
"First-year coach Tim Miles' team is injury-plagued at a time when he's seeking his first Big Ten win." -- MLive Spartan beat writer Diamond Leung
"If nothing else, the Huskers are going to make people play at their pace this season. Which is very, very ugly." -- Baumgardner
12. Penn State (8-9, 0-5): The Nittany Lions didn't make it easy on Michigan State Wednesday night, but the fans went home disappointed again, all 37 of them.
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