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Big Ten Basketball Weekly Ranking: Week 1

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This is my first look at the teams playing for 2014 Big Ten basketball championship, with a review of the results and quick commentary.

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1. Michigan State (4-0) W v McNeese St 98-56, W n. Kentucky 78-74, W v Columbia 62-53, W v Portland 82-67

Izzo's boys beat UK, and survived a letdown game against Columbia. I could complain about the lack of depth they've shown so far (especially when Adriean Payne gets in foul trouble), but really I'm just grateful that they put the 40-0 hubris in the trash can so quickly.

2. Wisconsin (3-0) W n. St. John's 86-75, W v Florida 59-53, W @ Wisconsin-Green Bay 69-66

That was a nice win over Florida, and following it up with solid road win over tough in-state foe wasn’t shabby, either. Josh Gasser looks like he's making a nice comeback, and Frank Kaminsky is on his way to being another of  Bo Ryan's diamond-in-the-rough centers.

3. Michigan (2-1) W v Mass-Lowell 69-42, W v South Carolina St 93-59, L @ Iowa St 70-77

They’ve got some problems to work out. Notably, I’m not sure they have guys who can get their own shots, now that Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. are gone. Still, there’s a lot of talent here. Expect Nik Stauskas'  role to keep growing, as long as he continues to be able to run the pick-and-roll.

4. Ohio State (3-0) W v Morgan St 89-50, W v Ohio 79-69, W @ Marquette 52-35

For now. I was not really that impressed by the win at Marquette (mostly because I’m not too sure Marquette should be ranked at all), but the Buckeyes are 3-0. Center Amir Williams seems to be holding down the paint okay, but I'm curious to see if that will continue against better teams.

5. Iowa (3-0) W v UNC-Wilmington 82-39, W v Neb.-Omaha 83-75, W v Maryland- Eastern Shore 109-63, W v Abilene Christian 103-41

They seem to be having fun. These Hawkeyes are deep, but I do wonder about the balance. Right now the starting line-up features a center, two power forwards and two point guards, with only Peter Jok able to come in as wing off the bench. Will they have enough players who can both hit threes and defend the wings?

6. Indiana (4-0) W v 100-72, W v LlU-Brooklyn 73-72, W v Samford 105-59, W v Stony Brook 90-74

As EMH noted in the comments of the Stony Brook wrap-up, it's going to be a particularly up- and-down season. Noah Vonleh and Yogi Ferrell are great talents, but they are just two of so many underclassmen that will have to be relied on this year. There will be some really frustrating games, along with some exhilarating ones.

7. PU (3-0) W v Northern Kentucky 77-76, W v C. Conn. St. 109-73, W v Rider 81-77

I'm starting to think the smart money should be on the Boilers sneaking into the NCAA's. The fresh faces seem a little more ready to contribute than I had expected. However, when AJ Hammons does a Todd Lindeman impression and takes himself out of games fast, these Boilers look kinda ripe for upsets.

8. Minnesota (3-0) w v Lehigh 81-62, W v Montana 84-58, W @ Richmond 74-59

I'm still thinking this is a NIT team, but who knows? Transfer Joey King has been able to rise to the occasion when Oto Osenieks has not delivered at the four-spot, and reserve center Maurice Walker hasn't even played yet.

9. Nebraska (3-0) W v Florida-Gulf Coast 79-55, W v Western Illinois 62-47, W v South Carolina St 83-57

This team definitely has more talent than last season, we’ll have to see if they’re still capable of producing when more talented defenses show up. Still, I'm guessing they've got a good shot of being 6-0 when they go visit Creighton on December 8th.

10. Illinois (4-0) W v Alcorn St 80-63, W v Jacksonville St 86-62, W v Valparaiso 64-52, v Bradley 81-55

Too soon to tell, but that big margin of victory over Bradley is a nice step. Jon Ekey is rebounding like a crazy fool (7.5rpg), and shooting 42.1% from three on a team that desperately needs a shooter. After hosting Chicago State, they travel to UNLV, which should be a nice benchmarking exercise for the Illini.

11. Northwestern (1-2) W v EIU 72-55, L @ Stanford 58-71, L  v Illinois St. 68-64

On the upside, JerShon Cobb, Drew Crawford, Sanjay Lumpkin and Nikola Cerina are all top contributors for new coach Chris Collins. On the downside, they’ve already got a losing record. Still, the Wildcats had a nice comeback against the Redbirds after being down 19 in the second half. There’s good things here, just not… y’know… NCAA tourney good.

12.  Penn State (2-1) W v Wagner 74-62, L v Bucknell 80-90, W @ Pennsylvania 83-71

Tim Frazier (22.3ppg/5.3rpg/6apg/2spg) and DJ Newbill (18.3ppg/6.7rpg/2.7apg/1.3spg) are putting up superhero numbers, but there's nothing so far to suggest that the Nittany Lions will be substantially better than last season. And I do think they will be better overall, having only Brandon Taylor and Ross Travis to protect to the paint is going to kill them in conference play.