This was going to be a normal B1G power rankings. Rutgers would stay in last, Wisconsin would stay in first, and I didn't think much about the 6pm Sunday night game between the Badgers and Scarlet Knights. But as the Colts finished off a dominating upset of the Broncos in Mile High, I flipped over to BTN and saw another upset in the making. Before this game, KenPom had Wisconsin beating Rutgers by 14 and gave the Scarlet Knights a 7% chance of winning on their home court. But with Frank Kaminsky inactive for the night, Rutgers mounted a second-half comeback after being down 12 at halftime and took down the fourth-ranked Badgers on their home court. Needless to say, it was an emotional victory for Rutgers coach (and alum) Eddie Jordan:
In short, the Rutgers win shows two things: 1) how tough it can be to get a road win in this conference, and 2) that anything can happen on a given evening in this conference. It's what makes this time of year so exciting.
But did Wisconsin hold onto their first-place ranking despite the loss? Let's reveal this week's BIG TEN RANKINGS OF POWER to find out.
14. Penn State (12-4 overall, 0-3 B1G) (Previous: 13)
Welcome to the cellar, Penn State! The Nittany Lions only played once last week, losing at home to Michigan. Can others on Penn State besides D.J. Newbill step it up on offense for this team? More importantly, will the Hoosiers be able to stop Newbill in Assembly Hall tomorrow? The Nittany Lions will be hungry for their first B1G victory, so IU will have to avoid a letdown and make sure we don't have a repeat of last year's debacle.
13. Northwestern (10-6, 1-2) (Previous: 12)
Ohhh, Northwestern. You were so close to knocking Sparty off on the road yesterday. But alas, MSU pulled off the win in overtime over the Wildcats. While it's frustrating that Northwestern had a better game in East Lansing than IU did, keep in mind that this was the Wildcats' only game of the week, whereas Sparty was in its third game in seven days.
12. Minnesota (11-6, 0-4) (Previous: 8)
The Golden Gophers are 0-4, but they've also started their season off with three out of four games on the road, and could have won three of these games, but just have not been able to pull it out yet. Minnesota will have another chance to pick up a good conference victory on Tuesday night when they host Iowa in The Barn.
11. Rutgers (10-7, 2-2) (Previous: 14)
A 2-2 start to B1G play might be the surprise of the conference season so far. The Scarlet Knights have come a long way since they only scored 26 points in a loss to UVA earlier this season, and the Wisconsin victory is a pretty great "welcome to the B1G" moment. Teams that were previously writing off their visits to the RAC may now have to at least reconsider that for a moment.
10. Illinois (11-6, 1-3) (Previous: 10)
Illini fans got bad news last week when Rayvonte Rice fractured his left hand. Rice will now be out 4-6 weeks. Even after the injury, the Illini defeated Maryland in their first B1G home game, but lost at Nebraska last night. This team has to reverse what has become a common trend under John Groce of playing well in the nonconference season but struggling in B1G play.
9. Nebraska (10-6, 2-2) (Previous: 11)
The Huskers had a rough start to conference play, but have come up with two recent home wins over Rutgers and Illinois. Getting Moses Abraham and Leslee Smith back into the frontcourt has certainly helped the Huskers, giving them depth at a position that was very thin when they lost to the Hoosiers on New Year's Eve.
8. Michigan (10-6, 3-1) (Previous: 9)
As Zak Irvin goes, so go the Wolverines. When the 6-foot-6 sophomore former Indiana Mr. Basketball has an O-Rating of over 100, Michigan is 8-0. Otherwise, the team is 2-6. If the Wolverines knock off Ohio State in Columbus tomorrow night, they have a very good chance of starting 6-1 in conference play before Wisconsin comes to the Crisler Center on January 24.
7. Purdue (10-7, 2-2) (Previous: 6)
After a 2-0 start, Purdue came back down to earth with losses both at Wisconsin and at home against Maryland. After a great start during nonconference play, Isaac Haas has come back down to earth during B1G play. Both he and A.J. Hammons will have to step their play up, considering they are used on about 30% of Purdue's possessions.
6. Ohio State (13-4, 2-2) (Previous: 4)
That was an ugly game in Bloomington on Saturday, wasn't it? If not for a valiant overtime effort against Minnesota, the Buckeyes could be staring at 1-3 in the B1G right now. Like IU's own star freshman James Blackmon, Jr., OSU freshman shooting guard D'Angelo Russell has shown inconsistencies despite his impressive performances.
5. Indiana (12-4, 2-1) (Previous: 7)
I was in Assembly Hall on Saturday afternoon, and as always, it was great to be back. When the Hoosiers started out down 9-2 with five turnovers in the first four minutes, I thought to myself, oh god, is this Michigan State all over again? Thankfully, the Hoosiers got their act together after the first TV timeout, and after taking the lead during the first half, they never relinquished it. Could Emmitt Holt replace Hanner Mosquera-Perea in the starting lineup tomorrow? Holt and Collin Hartman did well at the 5 position while Perea was in foul trouble on Saturday.
4. Iowa (11-5, 2-1) (Previous: 3)
Yeah just gonna leave this here:
Iowa is acting out its 2013-14 season over the course of one 40 minute game against Michigan State.— Dylan Burkhardt (@umhoops) January 9, 2015
3. Michigan State (12-5, 3-1) (Previous: 5)
Three games, three victories for Sparty last week. While their beatdown of IU was certainly impressive, MSU's comeback road win against Iowa was probably their best victory of the week. Travis Trice went off for 25 points (and SEVEN three-pointers) against the Hawkeyes, and Branden Dawson shut down Aaron White. Don't ever sleep on a Tom Izzo team, you know?
2. Maryland (15-2, 3-1) (Previous: 2)
The Terps went cold on a blisteringly cold night in Urbana-Champaign, but the Terps got a solid road victory in West Lafayette on Saturday. Between Russell, Blackmon, and Maryland's Melo Trimble, the B1G has a triumvirate of freshmen shooting guards who could dominate the conference over the next couple years.
1. Wisconsin (15-2, 3-1) (Previous: 1)
Yes, I know Wisconsin lost to Rutgers. Man, that still feels weird to write. But regardless, the Badgers did not have Frank the Tank playing for them, and naturally, their offense looked more limited than usual. Earlier this season, Sam Dekker played through an injury, and now, Kaminsky and Traveon Jasckon are out for the time being. As long as this team is at full strength come March, they should be a Final Four contender.