David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
The Hoosiers stay in the top ten despite a rough week.
The human polls are out, and the carnage wasn't as bad as might have been expected. Indiana is ranked #7 in the AP poll and #8 in the coaches' poll. In each poll, the Hoosiers rank behind Michigan (#2 in each poll) as the second-ranked Big Ten team, and in each poll Michigan State, Ohio State, and Minnesota are in the 11-15 range, giving the Big Ten 5 of the top 14 teams in the media poll and 5 of the top 15 in the coaches' poll. How did the teams who have defeated IU fare? Butler, following the Bulldogs' thrilling buzzer beating win over Gonzaga, are #9 in each poll, while Wisconsin, which surely would have been ranked had the Badgers won at Iowa, is second in the "also receiving votes" category in each poll.
How about the computers, you ask? IU is #4 in the Pomeroy rating, and KenPom's formula continues to predict that IU will finish 14-4 and tie Michigan for the Big Ten title. IU is ranked #7 by Sagarin and #14 in the RPI.
In the week ahead, IU plays Penn State at home on Wednesday. The Nittany Lions currently are ranked #210 by KenPom. In the previous ten years of the Pomeroy ratings, only three Big Ten teams--2003 Penn State, 2004 Penn State, and 2009 Indiana--have finished below the Mendoza line (i.e., ranked #200 or worse in the KenPom ratings). In other words, it should be IU's easiest remaining game. Having already dropped home games against Northwestern and Nebraska, 0-18 is a distinct possibility, sadly, for a team that would have been much better with Tim Frazier. No Big Ten team has gone 0-16 since Northwestern in 1999-00. It's somewhat surprising to me that a) no Big Ten team has ever gone 0-18; and b) before Northwestern in 2000, the last winless Big Ten team was Chicago in 1946 (the Maroons won their last Big Ten game in 1940).
After that, I don't think I exaggerating when I say that the most important stretch of the season beckons: Michigan State, at Purdue, Michigan, at Illinois. To win the Big Ten, IU probably has to win all four of those games, and anything more than one loss would be a major disappointment. Thankfully, the Penn State game makes this analogous to a bye week, and hopefully the Hoosiers will have time to address the flaws exposed in recent games.