1. Michigan Wolverines (11-3): Nik Stauskas lit up the court, shooting an incredible 69 percent against MSU as Michigan swept the Spartans for the season. They now have complete control of the Big Ten and an easy schedule to finish off the season.
2. Michigan State Spartans (11-4): What if Michigan State never gets back to 100 percent? Does it really matter? Michigan State is still only a game behind Michigan in the standings, and a game ahead of the rest of the field. While Michigan’s remaining schedule may make the Wolverines lethargic, the Spartans finish off their season against two ranked teams. When the Big Ten tournament comes around, Michigan State will know all of their weaknesses, and you can be sure Tom Izzo will fix those issues before the big dance.
3. Wisconsin Badgers (9-5): After this weekend’s win over Iowa, the Badgers are 7-2 against Top 25 teams and have finally seemed to regain their early season abilities. They’ve won five games since Feb. 4, and their Big Ten schedule only gets easier from here. Even with the new NCAA rules aimed at increasing scoring, the Badgers are holding opponents to 63 points-per-game.
4. Iowa Hawkeyes (8-5): Wasn’t it fun when Iowa looked good enough to win the Big Ten? Sometimes the Hawkeyes still do, like when they pounded then-No. 10 Michigan by 18 points on Feb. 8. While they can’t seem to pull out wins in close games, the Hawkeyes are still incredibly deep. At least half of their bench scores five points a game. But against the talents of MSU and Wisconsin, Iowa can’t hold its own.
The Jumbled Mess:
5. Ohio State Buckeyes (9-6): The surging Buckeyes have only lost one game since start of February. OSU has finally found an answer to their scoring problem: If you don’t have a single great scorer, let the whole team score. Aaron Craft has recovered his assist/turnover ratio from under 1.0 to 1.9 in about 45 days.
6. Nebraska Cornhuskers (8-6): The Cornhuskers started Big Ten play 1-5, but have since gone 7-1, including a win over Michigan State. Shavon Shields has truly recovered from his pre-season injury and nicely complements their leading Terran Petteway, who has 18 points-per-game.
7. Purdue Boilermakers (5-9): Sure they just had a four-game losing streak, but the Boilermakers also just beat Minnesota and Indiana. The brother duo of Terone and Ronnie Johnson are leading the team in scoring with 11 and 10 points per game, respectively, but that’s about the only exciting fact about this Purdue team. They are astoundingly average.
8. Indiana Hoosiers (5-8): Indiana has only won three games since Jan. 26. Sophomore Yogi Ferrel and freshman Noah Vonleh are leading the Hoosiers in most stats. Indiana only has five more Big Ten games, and four are against Top 25 ranked teams and one is against a hot Nebraska squad.
Northwestern and the Punching Bags:
9. Minnesota Golden Gophers (6-9): The Golden Gophers’ only wins in the last month have been against Northwestern and Indiana, which aren’t very impressive. What’s even less impressive is that they recently lost to Illinois. Without the Hollins brothers leading the way, Minnesota is a pretty weak team.
10. Northwestern Wildcats (5-10): Since the middle of Big Ten play, Northwestern has competed for the full 40 minutes of every game. The Wildcats have lost five games in a row, but none of their losses could be labeled “bad.” They still have the 18th best defense in the country per kenpom.com. But now with JerShon Cobb out indefinitely, the last three Big Ten games for the Wildcats are not looking good.
11. Illinois Illini (4-10): Since the New Year, Illinois has gone 3-10. Not exactly tournament material. Their last four games are against Nebraska, Michigan, Michigan State and Iowa. Expect Illinois to lose three of the four (at least).
12. Penn State Nittany Lions (4-10): Despite that three-game win streak, Penn State fans have had little to cheer about this season. They have to be one of the only teams in the country that has two players averaging above 15 points per game with a losing record.