Before I start Power Rankings this week, I wanted to say something quick about Dean Smith, who passed away at 83 yesterday. Dean Smith certainly had his accomplishments as a coach - 11 Final Fours, two national titles, only one losing season - but his greatest accomplishments may have come off the court. As a coach in the 60s in North Carolina, he helped to break down a lot of racial barriers of the Jim Crow South. Smith was proof that sports can help to produce positive change in society, and for that he should be commended.
I also want to discuss road wins in Big Ten games. One of the great parts of college hoops is the fervor of home crowds and student sections, and that excitement is unmatched in B1G arenas. This makes victories on the road tough to come by in the conference. In fact, of the 76 games played in the conference thus far, only 22 have been won by the road team.
As a result of this disparity, I invented a new statistic to value the importance of conference road wins. I based this on the effective field goal percentage, which counts three-pointers as 1.5 times the value of a normal two-point shot. Thus, I did a similar thing with the Big Ten standings, and counted road wins as 1.5 times the amount of a home victory. I call this Effective Conference Win Percentage, or eCW%. As you can see, there's not a lot of difference between this and the regular standings, and with the way the B1G schedule is unbalanced, it might be hard to glean too much from this until the season is over. But for now, here are how the effective conference win pecentages shake up in the conference.
Effective Big Ten Conference Winning Percentage
|Team||Home Wins||Road Wins||Total Games||eCW%|
And now, the rankings and my thoughts on each team.
Tier 5: Scraping the Barrel
14. Northwestern (10-13, 1-9) (Previous: 14)
Two road losses for the Wildcats that weren't even close this week. It's been a long season and nine straight losses for Chris Collins, who still faces an uphill climb in his second season in Evanston.
13. Rutgers (10-15, 2-10) (Previous: 13)
The Scarlet Knights have the lowest offensive efficiency, lowest effective field goal percentage, and turn the ball over the most of any team in B1G games. Oh, and eight straight losses.
12. Penn State (15-9, 3-8) (Previous: 12)
At least they're finally getting some home wins at the Bryce Jordan Center. The Nittany Lions' defense is doing alright, but other than D.J. Newbill, Penn State is having trouble finding the bucket.
Tier 4: Living on the Edge
11. Nebraska (13-10, 5-6) (Previous:11)
Technically, Nebraska has a better conference win percentage than Minnesota, but the Huskers rank lower because of their absolutely atrocious play away from Lincoln. In their last three road games, Nebraska has scored 129 total points. In addition, Terran Petteway has the 12th-highest usage rate of anyone in the country - along with the highest rate in the B1G to begin with.
10. Minnesota (15-9, 4-7) (Previous: 10)
Minnesota tried to give Purdue their game away on Saturday, but the Gophers' scorching start to the second half proved to be too much. Richard Pitino's squad has won four of its last six, and could be making more waves in the B1G right now had it not started conference play 0-5.
9. Michigan (13-11, 6-6) (Previous: 7)
The Wolverines aren't a great team. But they sure gave the Hoosiers a scare yesterday, and are still fighting despite their lack of size and healthy players. John Beilein might be the MacGyver of college hoops this year:
Some tin foil, old chewing gum, and a paperclip. John Beilein has fixed your transmission in under ten minutes.— The Crimson Quarry (@crimsonquarry) February 8, 2015
Tier 3: On the Bubble
8. Michigan State (15-8, 6-4) (Previous: 6)
Amazingly enough, Michigan State has to be on the bubble after losing to Illinois in the Breslin Center on Saturday. If Sparty ends up missing the tournament, it will be the first time MSU isn't in the Dance since 1997.
7. Illinois (16-8, 6-5) (Previous: 9)
Good lord, the Illini almost got screwed out of a victory by referee/actor Ted Valentine on Saturday. However, it was worth it because it led to a hilarious TWITTER FIGHT between Dan Dakich and the Mayor of Champaign, Illinois. With four wins in the last five, the Illini have fought their way back onto the tournament bubble.
Tier 2: Too Close to Call
6. Maryland (19-5, 7-4) (Previous: 3)
Did the January 22 game between Indiana and Maryland slow down both teams? The Hoosiers and Terps are a combined 4-5 ever since, with all five losses by double digits or more, and all wins being single-digit victories at home. Maybe Wednesday's game will kick both back into gear.
5. Indiana (17-7, 7-4) (Previous: 5)
Question for our readers: Where do you stand on teams fouling while up 3 in the final few seconds of a game? This scenario has now happened in three Assembly Hall games this season (OSU, PSU, Michigan), and the Hoosiers seemed to have erred on the side of not fouling, as was evident when they let shut down Zak Irvin and let Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman take the last shot. Regardless, Indiana cannot afford to live this dangerously at home all time, but at least they are getting wins this year in games that felt like they would have been losses last year.
4. Purdue (15-9, 7-4) (Previous: 4)
The Boilers broke a four-game win streak with a loss to Minnesota on Saturday, but with Rutgers and Nebraska coming up, it's conceivable that Purdue will be 9-4 coming into Assembly Hall on February 19.
3. Iowa (15-8, 6-4) (Previous: 8)
The Hawkeyes jump five spots this week, thanks to a road win over Michigan and a curb-stomping of Maryland in Iowa City. Now, let's talk about Adam Woodbury, who's become the Luis Suarez of the B1G all of the sudden. Maybe one eye-poke can be deemed accidental, but now that it's happened again, it doesn't seem to be as much of a coincidence anymore. The B1G needs a new villain now that Aaron Craft is long gone, and the 7-1 Woodbury would be as good of a fit as anyone.
2. Ohio State (18-6, 7-4) (Previous: 2)
The Buckeyes remain at second, despite the loss to Purdue last week, and D'Angelo Russell continues to make magic happen, as he had a triple-double last night in Piscataway. Marc Loving's suspension might hurt this team down the road, but it's also quite possible that this team could win their next six before Wisconsin comes into Columbus to close the regular season. As was evident in the Purdue game, this is not a team that will go down easily - all six of their losses this year have been in the single digits.
Tier 1: Bucky
1. Wisconsin (21-2, 9-1) (Previous: 1)
This week, Indiana lost to Wisconsin and beat Michigan, and they won't play either team again this season. However, if I had my choice, I'd rather want another chance at the Badgers if I were IU. Other than the beginning of both halves, Indiana shot pretty evenly against Wisconsin, and I think the Hoosiers could take them on in Assembly Hall and give them more of a run for their money.
Nevertheless, the Badgers have opened up a 2.5-game lead on anyone else in the conference, and with time running out on the season, it would be an enormous upset if Wisconsin doesn't win the B1G outright this year.