Where His Airness is frozen in statue, immortalized in city history, the sounds of sneakers will scurry across the court. It won’t be long to get there from Evanston. Armies of allegiances will decorate the arena, but just one will cheer triumphantly after that final buzzer.
It may seem assured that the fate of the Big Ten Championship will rest in the hands of the best. Michigan, Wisconsin, and Purdue: Some of the top teams from a top conference will be threats beyond that fateful week, going deep into late March. But as this season has showed us, from Rutgers over Ohio State, to Penn State above Michigan, the standings can be an illusion. Step out on to the court, and a whole story turns on its head. No power ranking is safe, but the uncertainty is what makes it fun.
This handy little power ranking of every team in the conference is based on a host of facts, opinions and biases, but will hopefully get you thinking about college basketball more this year and prepare you for the frenzy of March Madness. From ranking the lowly #14 team to the vaunted #1, this piece strives to ensure the freshest updates this season.
Did you hear Illinois is on a four-game win streak, currently tied for the best in the Big Ten? They’re showing they want to be taken seriously, having now picked up their first road win all season against Ohio State. A conference tournament run is certainly possible, especially with all the orange that will fill the seats.
After some ugly losses that called their ability to succeed without Joshua Langford into question, Michigan State did what they needed to do: Win. Both Wisconsin and Ohio State were lifeless on offense in crucial late-game stretches, which allowed the Spartans to break away. Two crucial rivalry games against Michigan are coming up, which is the perfect time for them to solidify status as a top team.
Isaiah Roby had a great game for Nebraska on Saturday, which won both their games this week to break their losing skid. Though the damage has already been done to their tournament hopes (their last four conferences games are brutally difficult), Nebraska definitely needed Roby’s 19-point, 16-rebound, 5-block night against Northwestern. Roby will be a player to watch the rest of this season.
Northwestern is the coldest team in the conference right now, which really says a lot at this point in the season. Even as Vic Law has seen his shot return, the team just cannot close out victories, losing two very winnable games against Rutgers and Nebraska. Are they willing to play their hearts out to get some more wins, or are they already deflated?
Ohio State’s Luther Muhammad scored just four points in two games while his team suffered rough losses. Considering he already dropped 24 and 20, respectively, on Nebraska in late January and Penn State the previous week, going 1-for-15 from the field was a dud of a performance. He and his team need to pull it together these next weeks to ensure a tournament spot with some missing top-conference wins.
Ryan Cline did not need to have a suspect week for Purdue. Though his team as a whole had a bad showing in their collapse at Maryland, he followed it up with a four-point, 0-for-4 from the arc performance against Penn State. While thankfully the wonderful Carsen Edwards is his teammate, Cline needs to do better to keep Purdue at #1.