Thoughts on Big MBB at the start of conference games

Again, in powerpoll format. The conference is light on national contenders, with only 4 teams in the top 20 of Kenpom, but has a total of 11 in the top 50! NW is sitting right outside at 63, Nebraska is a very decent 83, and then there's LOL Gophers. All that to say, almost every game in conference will be against a postseason-worthy team.

1. Purdue - There were cracks showing even before the loss to Rutgers, but they're still the top team - too many great non-conference wins to drop them right now.

2. Ohio State - I've been saying OSU has been underrated all year long. It's not like walking out of Welsh-Ryan arena with a win would normally serve any kind of notice, but Northwestern has been at least dangerous enough this year that a buddy of mine was trying to talk me into them as a NCAA tourney team. And OSU shredded them, it was not as close as the final score.

3. Rutgers - a fully healthy Rutgers squad is actually... good? The loss to in-state rival Seton Hall was the only real mis-step, as RU was without their two best players in the loss to Temple. The Hoosiers' loss at Jersey Mike's looks pretty reasonable now.

4. Wisconsin - I'm pretty skeptical about the long-term viability of the Badgers as a conference title-contender, but the Ryan/Gard black magic appears to be continuing. Watch their three-point shooting percentage against B1G foes - I think that's the key to their success right now.

5. Indiana - they are probably better than ranking as the fifth best B1G team right now, but I'm trying to recognize where teams are *right now* and there's no denying that the Hoosiers have taken some lumps. And frankly, there are reasonable questions about replacing XJ's production here.

6. Penn State - This is probably the surprise of the season. The Nittany Lions may just be profiting off of Illinois & Iowa's struggles at this moment in time, but their next two games (at Michigan, home vs Purdue) should tell us a lot.

7. Illinois - They've got undeniable talent (wins over Texas & UCLA!), but are in a real slump right now with all kinds of bad vibes. If they don't get the ship righted, there are some nasty losses that could await in the next two weeks, with games coming up at Northwestern, Nebraska, and Minnesota.

8. Michigan State - They are finally getting healthy, and this should be the last time that you see the Spartans this low. They are pretty much back to full strength now, and are very much still a NCAA tourney team.

9. Michigan - It's tough to make too much of one game, but they 100% needed the win over Maryland as otherwise they really only had some competitive losses to actual good teams on their resume. This next stretch is critical for them (PSU, @MSU, Iowa).

10. Iowa - It seems to go this way every year - the Hawkeyes look great, then get exposed, and finally bounce back to get a decent NCAA tournament seed before being upset on the first weekend. That loss to EIU was really, really bad, though.

11. Maryland - Officially on fraud alert. With the luster of the win over Illinois fading, it's looking increasingly like they just caught Miami at the right time for an upset.

12. Northwestern - Well, OSU sure made NU look bad on their homecourt. If the Wildcats can prove that was just a bad game with a win over rival Illinois tomorrow, maybe the good vibes can return for Doug Collins.

13. Nebraska - I guess this is the best 13th place team in any conference in the nation? I guess that's something. Hoiberg needs to find a way to notch enough conference victories to eek out a NIT berth to assure keeping his job for another year. That probably means winning all eight remaining home games.

14. Minnesota - I find it a bit amusing to say that a season-long last-place team is "fading fast" but here we are. Hopefully the freshmen, who look promising, don't get their spirits crushed in what looks to be a brutal season.

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