14. RUTGER (6-14 overall, 0-7 B1G)
Last week: I don't know probably something bad
Fun fact: There are literally no fun facts about this team
13. MINNESOTA (6-14, 0-8)
Last week: Lost at Michigan, 74-69. Lost to Illinois, 78-71 (OT).
Fun fact: The Illinois loss will be a tough one for the Gophers and their fans to take. I do think Minnesota will get a win soon - each of their last three losses have come within single digits - but they don't have a better than 20% chance of winning until their first game against Rutger on 2/25. So while IU had a close game in The Barn against these guys, so they can't afford a loss to them on Saturday in Assembly Hall.
12. ILLINOIS (10-10, 2-5)
Last week: Lost at Indiana, 103-69. Won at Minnesota, 78-71 (OT).
Fun fact: Illinois is one of the best teams at handling the ball in the nation, as we discussed last week. But against IU on Tuesday night, the Hoosiers forced a turnover on 21.1% of Illinois's possessions, for a total of 15 compared to Indiana's 11.
11. PENN STATE (11-9, 2-5)
Last week: Lost vs. Wisconsin, 66-60
Fun fact: Penn State gets big minutes from four seniors, including two starters. However, help is on the way - they have the third-ranked recruiting class in the B1G for next season, which is good for 17th in the nation, as Pat Chambers has dipped into his Philly ties to put together a solid class.
10. NORTHWESTERN (15-6, 3-5)
Last week: Lost at Maryland, 62-56 (OT), Lost at Indiana, 89-57.
Fun fact: Before Saturday, when they lost to Indiana by 32, Northwestern's largest margin of defeat was 13 points - a home loss against Maryland.
Also, let's talk about Bryant McIntosh for a second. IU fans booed him before Saturday's game, and while yes I understand that opposing players often get booed, I don't know if it was fair to single out a guy from just down the road in Greensburg, who was never even offered a scholarship to Indiana. (I'm fine with the "airball" chant, that happens all the time in hoops.) Also, don't turn this into a "FOLKS FROM OUTSIDE INDIANA DON'T UNDERSTAND INDIANA BASKETBALL" issue. That's just a lazy line of thinking - especially if you write about IU hoops for a living. I'm from out of state and thought it was in poor taste. So yeah.
9. WISCONSIN (11-9, 3-4)
Last week: Won at Penn State, 66-60
Fun fact: Greg Gard got his first signature win as Wisconsin coach last week in a win over Michigan State. Whether Gard is named permanent coach remains to be seen, but if history as any indication, it's not a good sign. In 2000, the Badgers went through the midseason resignation of Dick Bennett, who was replaced for the rest of the season by Brad Soderberg. However, at the end of the year, Soderberg was not retained, leading directly to the Bo Ryan era in Madison.
8. OHIO STATE (12-8, 4-3)
Last week: Lost at Purdue, 75-64.
Fun fact: Before Purdue, Ohio State's last three games qualified as blowouts, including a win over Rutger and losses to Indiana and Maryland. Blowouts, as defined by KenPom, are games that end in a margin of victory of 19 points or more. If you think a lot more conference games have been non-competitive this season, you're not wrong - right now, the Big Ten leads all conferences in blowouts with 29.6% of its games ending in these large margins.
7. NEBRASKA (12-9, 4-4)
Last week: Won at Michigan State, 72-71. Lost vs. Michigan, 81-68.
Fun fact: The Huskers have performed better in conference play on the road - they are 3-1 outside of Pinnacle Bank Arena thus far. And so far, the home team hasn't had a great advantage in B1G games - the host has only won in 55.6% of B1G games so far. Out of 32 D-1 conferences, the Big Ten ranks 20th in this measurement.
6. PURDUE (17-4, 5-3)
Last week: Won at Rutger, 107-57. Won vs. Ohio State, 75-64. Lost at Iowa, 83-71.
Fun fact: Purdue is having trouble in conference play with both creating and forcing turnovers (11th and 13th in the B1G, respectively). On the other hand, the Boilers are excelling on the glass, as they lead the conference both in getting and defending offensive rebounds. In all three of Purdue's Big Ten losses, they've been outscored by an average of 18 points in the second half - something the Boilers will need to fix if they want to stay in conference title contention.
5. MICHIGAN (15-5, 5-2)
Last week: Won vs. Minnesota, 74-69. Won at Nebraska, 81-68.
Fun fact: Caris Levert has missed the past six games. In his absence, the Wolverines have gone 4-2, with losses only to Iowa and Purdue, both on the road. In his absence, the Wolverines have still been efficient on offense, and though Michigan has a smaller frontcourt with 6-8 Duncan Robinson and 6-9 Mark Donnal, all their players can shoot from anywhere on the court.
4. MICHIGAN STATE (17-4, 4-4)
Last week: Lost to Nebraska, 72-71. Won vs. Maryland, 74-65.
Fun fact: Despite only a .500 record in B1G play, I'm putting Sparty at 4 this week because I know better than not to discount Tom Izzo. Other than games at Michigan, at Purdue, and maybe the home game against Indiana, all of the Spartans' remaining games are very winnable. If MSU's emotional home win over Maryland ignites a spark in the team, we can credit those lime green unis, or Matt Costello bear hugging Tom Izzo:
3. MARYLAND (17-3, 6-2)
Last week: Won vs. Northwestern, 62-56 (OT). Lost at Michigan State, 74-65.
Fun fact: The Terps lost to a desperate MSU team in East Lansing, so they shouldn't be punished too much for that. Going forward, Maryland will need better performances from freshman big man Diamond Stone to win against top-level B1G competition. He's had a good season as the Terps' sixth man, but the MSU game was his least amount of points since the UNC loss in December.
2. INDIANA (17-3, 7-0)
Last week: Won vs. Illinois, 103-69. Won vs. Northwestern, 89-57.
Fun fact: Wait, is Yogi Ferrell actually underrated? The guy wasn't on the Wooden Award watch list, and isn't often in the discussion for best player in the B1G, but he's led IU to a 7-0 start, hasn't scored less than 16 points in a conference game yet, and has come up with clutch plays and shots to beat both Minnesota and Wisconsin. He's making the most of his senior year so far, and he understands the moment he has right now.
1. IOWA (16-3, 7-0)
Last week: Won at Rutger, 90-76. Won vs. Purdue, 83-71.
Fun fact: There's no stopping the Hawkeyes right now. Before B1G play started, it looked like a three-way race between Michigan State, Purdue, and Maryland. The Hawkeyes have beaten the first two teams twice, and have their only game against Maryland on Thursday. Could the conference race be over if the Hawkeyes win in Assembly Hall on February 11?