1. Michigan State (17-1, 6-0) W @ Northwestern 54-40, W @ Illinois 78-62
Tearing it up with Adreian Payne sitting on the sidelines. Interior depth looked like a weakness, and now looks like a strength with Matt Costello and Kenny Kaminiski providing stability in the paint.
2. Michigan (13-4, 5-0) W vs Penn State 80-67, W @ Wisconsin 77-70
This has got to be temporary, right? The Badgers are just sliding and the Michigan is just taking advantage? Hosting Iowa should shed some light on how good these McGary-less Wolverines are before they visit East Lansing.
3. Iowa (14-3, 3-1) W @ OSU 84-74
The Hawkeyes are looking like a real threat for conference title contention. Aaron White's ability to create off the bounce is the new wrinkle (at least, to me) that teams can't seem to deal with.
4. Wisconsin (15-2, 3-2) L @ Indiana 72-75, L v Michigan 70-77
What a difference a week makes. One stark reminder of how things were is that for a few more hours, the Badgers are *still* ranked #3 in the nation. Trips to Minneapolis and West Lafayette should illuminate whether this is a real slump or just a hiccup for what had been considered Bo Ryan's best team yet.
5. Minnesota (14-4, 3-2) W v OSU 63-53
So, right now, it kinda looks like the young Pitino has turned the Gophers into a NCAA tourney-worthy squad. The win over the slumping Buckeyes was certainly enjoyable, which follows the OT loss in East Lansing (where Adriean Payne suspended his game off to ensure a win) to create the perception of tough team ready to take it to anyone.They've got a stretch in the schedule here of winnable games, after today's match in Iowa City. I don't think they'll contend for the title, and the rigors of Big Ten play are ineffable, but they're looking good for NCAA bid.
6. Ohio State (15-3, 2-3) L v. Iowa 74-84, L @ Minnesota 53-63
A pair of double-digit losses (and three straight!) have taken the Buckeyes right out of title contention. The Big Ten is for real. The funny thing? My identified weak spot, LaQuinton Ross, is playing pretty decently. The issues seem to be not enough interior depth or rebounding, and certainly not enough balanced scoring (looking your way, Shannon Scott).
7. Purdue (13-5, 3-2) W @ Illinois 66-58, W v. Penn State 65-64
They may have narrowly averted disaster with the near-miraculous home win over Penn State, but give 'em credit. They averted disaster and remain alive in the NCAA at-large berth conversation. They should be favored in Tuesday's contest in Evanston, but it should be an interesting game to watch.... uh, or rather, see what happens. That could be a pretty ugly game.
8. Northwestern (2-4, 9-10) L v. Michigan State 40-54, W @ Indiana 54-47
I know, this is a bit hyperbolic. In all likelihood, NU won't even be contending for the NIT. But right now the Wildcats have some mojo going as Alex Olah has grown into a man and Tre Demps has discovered his confidence. MSU did pull away for a solid win, but that was a 5 point game with 10 minutes left, and still within 7 before MSU close the last six minutes of the game on a 10-3 run.
9. Illinois (13-2, 2-4) L v. Purdue 58-66, L v MSU 62-78
Four straight losses and counting now, and that home loss to Purdue may be the stake in the heart of their NCAA tournament chances. They need to take advantage of the slumping Buckeyes' visit on Thursday, or they might be looking at eight straight losses (a swoon worthy of Bruce Weber!).
10. Indiana (11-5, 2-3) W v. Wisconsin 75-72, L v. Northwestern 47-54
Sure, the Hoosiers have less losses than Illinois, and I have to believe that they will finish as a better team than Northwestern, but that loss v NU... just horrible. Sure, I expected a week in which IU went 1-1, but geez, that was a very unpleasant roller coaster ride.
11. Nebraska (8-8, 0-4)
The Huskers haven't played since their Jan 12th loss at Purdue (64-70). They play a rare Monday night game hosting Ohio State (on MLK Jr. day, no less). They'd better try to prolong Buckeye misery while they can, because it looks like a rough year after all.
12. Penn State (9-10, 0-6) L @ Michigan 67-80, L @ Purdue 64-65
Sure, the game in West Lafayette probably should've been a win, but it wasn't. Two games in Indiana, in a row, that loom as missed opportunities. They should break the seal when they host Nebraska on Thursday, but this looks like another bad season to be slightly subpar in the Big Ten.