First of all, I want to apologize for the lack of power rankings last week - due to family reasons I wasn't able to write them. But I'm back in action this week, and before we start the rankings, I'm going to name my all-B1G team for the 2014-15 season. For this team, I focused on how players did during conference play in particular.
Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin. THE TANK has lived up to his postseason play of the previous year and his preseason hype, and is the dominant center in the B1G. He's helped the Badgers coast to a B1G title, and his three-point shooting abilities make him a matchup problem for any team.
D'Angelo Russell, Ohio State. Russell established himself as the freshman of the year in the conference, and his electrifying play and ability to take over any game made him a must-watch for most of the year. With Russell, the Buckeyes could be an NCAA Tournament dark horse. Without him, they might not even be in the Dance this year.
Yogi Ferrell, Indiana. Forget the missed free-throw, and forget the missed late three-pointers against Maryland and Purdue. Yogi has been the rock of this Indiana team all season, and is the engine that makes this team go. The thing that makes Yogi great is that he doesn't always need to be producing points - but when other players on the Hoosiers are struggling, he recognizes this and steps up to the challenge. I hope he has a chance to redeem himself from the end-game disappointments this season, because he deserves better for all that he's done for this team over thepast three years.
- Aaron White, Iowa. During the Hawkeyes' recent six-game win streak, White has averaged 21.2 points per game. The senior has shown leadership when it has mattered most, and has helped to propel Iowa into NCAA tourney lock status.
- Dez Wells, Maryland. This was a tough call between Wells and Melo Trimble, but I went with Wells again in part because of the leadership angle, as his veteran status on the team helped the Terps eke out several close victories. Wells suffered an injury before B1G play started, but came back strong for the Terps as soon as conference play began. Not only did Wells consistently score in the double digits, but he also was a strong rebounder for the Terps.
Honorable mentions: DJ Newbill (Penn State), Branden Dawson (MSU), Melo Trimble (Maryland), AJ Hammons (Purdue), Troy Williams (Indiana), Sam Dekker and Nigel Hayes (Wisconsin).
Other ballots from our site:
Now, here are my final power rankings, which happen to coincide with the seedings for the B1G Tournament that is starting in just a couple days.
Tier 4: In Chicago on Wednesday
14. Rutgers (10-21, 2-16) (Previous: 14)
Tough start to life in the B1G for Rutgers. Though after reading NJ-based journalist Steve Politi's recent column, the issues with the Rutgers basketball program may be more institutional, and not necessarily the fault of the current staff or players.
13. Penn State (16-15, 4-14) (Previous: 13)
Newbill's buzzer-beating shot assured the Nittany Lions of finishing over .500 during the regular season. This is the first time an above-average record has happened under coach Pat Chambers, which may be enough to buy the embattled coach another year in State College.
12. Nebraska (13-17, 5-13) (Previous: 12)
The Huskers lost their final eight games down the stretch and 10 of their last 11. The only two games in this stretch where the Huskers kept it close were against Maryland, whom they lost to by three points last night. This has been a disappointing season for a team that many considered to be a dark horse in the conference.
11. Minnesota (17-14, 6-12) (Previous: 11)
The streakiest team in the conference. The Golden Gophers started conference play with five straight losses, then won five of their next seven, before finishing the season losing five of their last six.
Tier 3: Teams with first-round byes
10. Northwestern (15-16, 6-12) (Previous: 10)
The Wildcats head into the B1G Tournament as winners of five of their last seven. During this stretch, Alex Olah has come into his own, especially during a double-OT win over Michigan, where he finished with 25 points and 12 boards.
9. Michigan (15-15, 8-10) (Previous: 9)
The first two games that Michigan and Illinois both played ended in overtime, with the home team coming away victorious both games. Can the rubber match in Chicago be as exciting?
8. Illinois (19-12, 9-9) (Previous: 8)
With the Illini having finished 8th or worse in the B1G in his first three seasons, could John Groce be starting to feel the heat in Urbana-Champaign? I don't think he should, especially considering the injuries, suspensions, and transfers that the Illini suffered this year.
7. Indiana (19-12, 9-9) (Previous: 6)
The Hoosiers finish the season losing 8 of their last 12 and losing their final home game of the season in as about as heartbreaking fashion as possible. For their troubles, they are rewarded with a first round B1G tourney game against Northwestern. NEAT.
6. Ohio State (22-9, 11-7) (Previous: 5)
Other than Michigan, the Buckeyes really don't have a bad loss this year. But besides a Maryland blowout, Ohio State doesn't really have a good win either, as they are 2-5 against the top five of the conference.
5. Iowa (21-10, 12-6) (Previous: 7)
On February 15, Iowa had just lost to Northwestern and were 15-10. Three weeks later, they have won six straight games and come into the United Center as one of the hottest teams in the conference. If the Hawkeyes can get past their first opponent and then Purdue, however, they will likely have to face Wisconsin, and the Badgers have had Iowa's number this year.
Tier 2: The double-byes
4. Purdue (20-11, 12-6) (Previous: 2)
Purdue looked to be on the cusp of getting blown out at Mackey on Saturday, but the Boilers shut down Illinois to begin the second half, getting to 12-6 in the conference, which Hammer & Rails always said was the magic number to reach in order to get to the NCAA Tournament. The double-bye helps, but the Boilers will need at least one more win for fans to feel secure.
3. Michigan State (21-10, 12-6) (Previous: 3)
Tom Izzo has lived up to his reputation again this season. Sparty's only two losses in the past month have been to Minnesota in overtime, and by seven at Wisconsin. Still, MSU's late-game play could be costly, as players committed costly mistakes and missed late free throws against both Minnesota and Indiana.
2. Maryland (26-5, 14-4) (Previous: 4)
The Terps are still winning nail-biters almost every time they hit the court, but the strategy seems to be working, as they've won 7 straight and should be no worse than a 4-seed in the Tourney.
Tier 1: The undisputed champs
1. Wisconsin (28-3, 16-2) (Previous: 1)
An incredibly impressive victory in Columbus yesterday to cap off a great season for the Badgers. It would be a shame if the Selection Committee placed this team in the same region as Kentucky - those two teams should not have to play before the Final Four.