B1G rankings: Indiana cruises to the top
    Photo by Natalie Krebs / North by Northwestern

    Another hectic week in the juggernaut Big Ten features a shake-up atop the AP rankings, the plummeting stock of Illinois and the nastiest missed dunk in history. Who's making moves in one of the country's premier conferences, and where does Northwestern stand among the madness? NBN breaks down the Big Ten with a weekly installment of power rankings.

    1. Indiana Hoosiers (20-2, 8-1 Big Ten)

    After decisively defeating then-No. 1 Michigan Saturday, Indiana is currently in first place in the Big Ten and dons the country's top ranking. Behind future NBA players Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo, the Hoosiers score the second most points per game in the nation at 83.8.

    Indiana has its work cut out for it, set to face five more ranked teams down the stretch. Yet the team's two losses have come by a combined seven points, and the Hoosiers' next game is against the slumping Fighting Illini.

    2. Ohio State Buckeyes (17-4, 7-2)

    Winners of four in a row, No. 10 Ohio State is on a roll. If the Buckeyes can beat Michigan and Indiana in their next two games, they’ll be sitting on top of the power rankings next week.

    While the Buckeyes heavily rely on the play of junior forward Deshaun Thomas, they will need to get some help from the supporting cast against in tough upcoming games. Thomas averages 20 points a night, while no other Buckeye tops 11.

    3. Michigan Wolverines (20-2, 7-2)

    While they did lose to Ohio State earlier in the season, No. 3 Michigan will have a chance to redeem themselves against the Buckeyes Tuesday.

    Sophomore guard Trey Burke continues to make a case for player of the year. Burke's 18.2 points per game lead the team.

    4. Michigan State (18-4, 7-2)

    Despite having one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the Big Ten, No. 12 Michigan State has done a good job staying competitive. The Spartans have won seven of their last eight games, including an impressive three-point win over Ohio State back on Jan. 19.

    State might see a drop in the coming rankings with looming games against ranked Minnesota and Michigan.

    5. Minnesota Golden Gophers (17-5, 5-4)

    A week ago, the sinking Gophers would have been toward the bottom of these rankings.

    After losing four games in a row, Minnesota got back on track with two consecutive wins over Nebraska and Iowa. Even though the Gophers play three more ranked teams, including Indiana, the rest of their schedule is easier than most.

    Minnesota is still ranked No. 18 in the nation, but they need sophomore guard Andre Hollins to be a more efficient scorer. Hollins shot just .286 from the field against Iowa.

    6. Wisconsin Badgers (15-7, 6-3)

    You can never quite tell which Wisconsin is taking the floor: the one that beat Indiana and Minnesota, or the one that took a four-point loss to Iowa.

    Sunday, Wisco beat Illinois for the second time this year, and Wednesday the team will look for revenge hosting the Hawkeyes at home. The Badgers have a solid, fundamentally sound defense. Their problem in close game situations has been finding that go-to guy to score some points.

    7. Iowa Hawkeyes (14-8, 3-6)

    Before Big Ten play, the Hawkeyes started the season 11-2. Since, Iowa has gone 4-6 without a single win against a Top 25 team.

    Roy Devyn Marble, Iowa’s leading scorer, has cooled down over the last six games, averaging a mere 8.2 points per night.

    For the rest of the season, Iowa has one of the easier Big Ten schedules. Fran McCaffery’s squad only plays two more ranked opponents the rest of the season.

    8. Northwestern Wildcats (13-10, 4-6)

    Northwestern hasn’t been able to play consistently well since the beginning of the season. Still, the ‘Cats managed to earn a tough win over then-No. 12 Minnesota last week. Right on par with their inconsistent play, they lost to a bad Nebraska team by 15 later that week.

    In their next five games, Northwestern only faces one ranked opponent. The ‘Cats might be able to get to .500 in conference play if they can string together some wins.

    The Wildcats need to build off of their victory against Purdue on Saturday and continue to distribute the ball well.

    9. Purdue Boilermakers (11-11, 4-5)

    The Boilermakers have been blown out over their last two games, including a 37-point loss to Indiana Jan. 30.

    After Saturday’s loss to Northwestern, head coach Matt Painter pointed to a lack of senior leadership and performance as the cause of their recent troubles.

    Tuesday night, though, Purdue should have an easy win against last-place Penn State.

    10. Illinois Fighting Illini (15-8, 2-7)

    What happened here? John Groce might be the leading candidate for worst coach of the year in the Big Ten.

    Illinois started the season 14-2 and ranked No. 10 in the nation. Since, the Illini have lost six of their last seven games, dropping to 2-7 in the Big Ten.

    The future doesn’t look bright; Illinois will be facing Indiana and Minnesota in consecutive games.

    11. Nebraska Cornhuskers (11-12, 2-8)

    Even though Nebraska has lost their last two games, the Huskers kept things close against Ohio State, falling by only seven points.

    A battle against Penn State next Saturday might be the last chance Nebraska has for a win until late February.

    12. Penn State Nittany Lions (8-13, 0-9)

    When you don’t win a single conference game, it’s easy to be ranked last.

    The Nittany Lions have lost their past nine games in a row. They run the serious risk of not getting a single Big Ten victory for the rest of the season if their play stays this awful. Since losing star point guard Tim Frazier with a ruptured Achilles, Penn State has seriously lacked offensive identity.


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