Big Ten Weekly Basketball Rankings: Week 18

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Final Conference Standings edition: the latest weekly ranking of the Big Ten basketball teams.

My apologies, but I am on the road, so this is all a bit abbreviated. More detailed analysis after the Big Ten Tourney.

1. Indiana (26-5/ 14-4) L v. OSU 58-67, W @ Michigan 72-71

So, the difference between redemption and frustration was less than an inch. Personally, I thought it was great to see Cody get the last six points to win a game at Michigan after Victor had done the same thing at MSU not so long ago. I am really looking forward to the March Madness.

2. Ohio State (23-7/13-5) W @ Indiana 67-58, W v. Illinois 68-55

Hmmm. OSU has a good argument for being no.1 going into the BTT. DeShaun Thomas is playing defense and Aaron Craft is taking charge on offense. I already gave them credit last week for being on a (previously) underrated hot streak, and I do think that win at IU was pretty great for their resume. But since IU won the conference title outright, it's too much to bump the Buckeyes all the way above the Hoosiers. But Matta really has his team coming into the postseason running hot, and that's good.

3. Michigan State (24-7/ 13-5) W v. Northwestern 71-61, W v. Wisconsin 58-43

See, they're doing fine. And I think they're going to do pretty well in the post-season tourneys, too. Gary Harris had to make a late charge, but justly earned the FOY award as was expected.

4. Michigan (25-6/12-6) W v. Purdue 80-75, L v. Indiana 71-72

As a Hoosier fan, I'm a little concerned that the Wolverines had to miss two front-ends to give the Hoosiers a chance to win, and still almost won on an offensive rebound at the end of the game after being dominated on the glass. But, the Wolverines are a good team, as we all know. They'll be a tough match-up for the Hoosiers in the B1G Tourney, if they both get to the semis as expected. Unlike last year, I will be gracious about Burke winning POY.
He's certainly the most valuable player to his squad of any Big Ten team, and even though those are two different things, he deserves some postseason hardware for sure.

5. Wisconsin (21-10/12-6) L @ MSU 43-58, W @ PSU 63-60

The Badgers are not playing well. Which makes Bo Ryan's win although well-deserved, a bit interestingly timed. Ryan certainly deserves the ranking for keeping his streak of top-four seedings in the Big Ten Tourney intact, although I do wonder if the wheels aren't starting to come off of this jerry-rigged squad. The MSU loss isn't all that embarrassing, if extremely ugly, but needing to pull a Traevon Jackson buzzer-beater out of the hat to down PSU sure doesn't inspire confidence.

6. Minnesota (20-11 /8-10) L @ Nebraska 51-53, L @ Purdue 73-89

Aaand we're right back to a less-than-mediocre level with the Gophers. I have them at six only because I think they have more depth and balance than Illinois, and should have a better statistical chance of the getting to the Sweet Sixteen. I still wouldn't put money on them in the NCAA tourney (or for that matter, in the BTT).

7. Illinois (21-11/8-10) L @ Iowa 55-63, L @ OSU 55-68

Really, I should rank them 9th. That's where I think they are in the Big Ten. But their out-of-conference work and big wins suggest a potential that could have them ranked as high as fifth, credibly. Really, would anybody be terribly surprised if the Illini were one of the last 5 B1G teams standing in the NCAA tourney (say, in the round of 32)?

8. Purdue (15-16/8-10) L @ Michigan 75-80, W v. Minnesota 89-73

Well, that was a thumping on the Badgers. Purdue posted maybe its best two weeks of the season. It'd be great that they were building momentum if they only had an overall .500 record. I think they still might have a shot at the NIT, but it'll take winning two games in the BTT, which is totally doable, the way they are playing now. And where has Sandi Marcius been? The sleeping giant finally woke up, but Terone Johnson has also been quite impressive down the stretch as well.

9. Iowa (20-11/9-9) W v. Nebraska 74-60, W v. Illinois 63-55

Hawkeye fans should not be thrilled with my dropping them to 9th after they ended the season on a upbeat note (well, if any of them read this and/or cared), and they will likely win their opening BTT game against Northwestern. And I know Iowa beat Illinois and Purdue at home in the last couple of weeks. However, given that they lost starter Mike Gesell (who might play in the BTT, but might not, too) and their overall inability to close out tight games or win on the road, I do not like their chances for going very far in the tourney. Next year should be their season.

10. Nebraska (14-17/ 5-13) W v. Minnesota 53-51, L @ Iowa 60-74

One more surprising win helps distance the Huskers from the basement of the B1G standings. The Purdue game should be one of the more interesting first-round match-ups, and call me crazy, but I think the winner of that game has a great shot at taking down OSU.

11. Penn State (10-21/ 2-16) W @ Northwestern 66-59, L v. Wisconsin 60-63

The Nittany Lions really bounced back in the last few weeks, and winning at Northwestern and taking Wisky to the limit last week reminded me of how I thought this team would be better. They looked halfway decent at times in the non-conference without Frazier, so it was good to see them get some of that fire back and start competing at a Big Ten level again.

12. Northwestern (13-18/ 4-14) L v. Penn State 59-66, L @ Michigan State 61-71

The best thing about this last week for Wildcat fans is that there's likely just one more game left where their remaining players run the risk of suffering a season-ending injury. Hopefully, they shake all of this bad luck and have one decent healthy season. Bill Carmody will be holding his breath for a bit to see if he'll be back too, I suspect.

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