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The Line with Caroline: B1G Power Rankings

It’s New Year’s Eve and opening day of Big Ten basketball.  As one of the premier conferences and the number of ranked teams, I expect a number of changes in my rankings week to week.  Here’s my power rankings based on what I’ve seen the first two months of college hoops.

#12 Northwestern- Chris Collins team is struggling and conference play is not going to get any easier.  The Wildcats are 7-6 overall and have some tough loses to in state rivals Illinois State and DePaul.  Senior guard, Drew Crawford leads the team with 16.4 ppg and 7.8 rebounds.   The first thing this team needs to work on is field goal percentage; at  41%, this team is ranked 297th overall.

Big Ten opener: Wisconsin, Thurs.

Wisconsin by ten.

#11 Nebraska- At 8-4, the Huskers have yet to play a ranked team, but have lost by ten or more three times.  This doesn’t bode well for the Big Ten conference play for Nebraska as five teams are ranked.  The new Pinnacle Bank Arena, has been successful for the Huskers, as they are 8-0 at home.  Tim Miles team has two glaring stats looking at them that need to improve: 10 assists per game (325th in the nation) and 33.8 rebound per game (261st).

Big Ten opener: at Iowa, Tues.

Iowa by twelve.

#10 Penn State- I have to say Penn State is doing much better than I expected, 9-4.  With newcomers, John Johnson and Jordan Dickerson now eligible to play, this team will only get better.  Their field goal percentage is at 47%, and they Lions are averaging 81 ppg (25th in the nation).  I am really looking forward to how this team will change.

Big Ten opener: Michigan State, Tues.

Michigan State by seven.

#9 Minnesota- Richard Pitino’s team is leading the conference in steals with 8.8, but believes that his team needs to be more efficient on defense.  The Gophers are 11-2 and have Andre Hollins’ leading the team 16.2 ppg and two others in double figures.

Big Ten opener: Michigan, Thurs.

Michigan by four.

#8 Illinois- The Illini, 11-2, got a quality win on December 21st against a ranked Missouri team.  Coach Groce they’ve lost two close games to Georgia Tech and Oregon.   Champaign native and Drake transfer, Rayvonte Rice, is averaging 18 ppg to lead the team and has scored double figures in every game. The Illini have won three really close ones but will have to play all of the leagues ranked teams twice.

Big Ten opener: Indiana, Tues.

Illinois by three.

#7 Purdue- The Boilermakers, 10-3, have had all of their losses at neutral courts.  Their best win of the season was at West Virginia.  This team is unpredictable right now.  Senior and leading scorer with 14 ppg, Terone Johnson, has to help keep AJ Hammons in the game for the Boilermakers to be successful.

Big Ten opener: Ohio State, Tues

Ohio State by fourteen.

#6 Indiana- The Hoosiers are 10-3 and have lost two games to ranked opponents UConn and Syracuse.  Their only loss that wasn’t against a ranked team was Notre Dame, who has now played three teams in the Big Ten only beating Indiana. Yogi Ferrell (16.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg) and newcomer and pre-season freshman of the year Noah Vonleh (12 ppg, 9 rpb) are leading the Hoosier attack on offense.

Big Ten opener: at Illinois, Tues.

Illinois by three.

#5 Michigan- What else can go wrong for Michigan?  The Wolverines lost Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway to the NBA and most recently Mitch McGary is injured with no return date determined.  Sophomore guard, Nik Stauskas is scoring 18.2 ppg and leading the Wolverines to an 8-4 start.  With losses to Iowa State, Duke, Florida State and Arizona, Michigan needs more consistency in Derrick Walton Junior to make this team a contender again.

Big Ten opener:  at Minnesota, Thurs.

Michigan by four.

#4 Iowa- My Hawkeyes are 11-2 with two very disappointing losses against Villanova and in state rival Iowa State.  Both losses came after losing ten plus point leads.  With conference play, Iowa’s defensive struggles to maintain a lead will be shown in conference play.  Coach Fran McCaffery is a believer in a very deep Hawkeye bench and every player has scored in several games, this will keep the Hawks in the top quarter of the conference.

Big Ten opener: Nebraska, Tues.

Iowa by twelve.

#3 Michigan State- An embarrassing home loss to UNC, 79-65, is the only blemish on the Spartan’s 11-1 record.  The Spartans are leading the nation with 19.5 assists per game.  Senior Adreian Payne is averaging 18 ppg and 7.9 rpg. Tom Izzo’s Spartans were the pre-season pick to win the conference, but with emerging Wisconsin and Ohio State, the Big Ten now has three teams ranked in the top six.

Big Ten opener: at Penn St, Tues.

Michigan State by seven.

#2 Ohio State- The Buckeyes are also 13-0 before conference play begins.  Their quality win so far has been against Marquette.  The non-conference schedule wasn’t as tough as Wisconsin’s, but that doesn’t mean anything in the Big Ten.  Any team can lose on any night, remember Michigan losing to Penn State last year?  Senior guard, Lenzelle Smith Jr leads the Buckeyes with 13.4 ppg. 

Big Ten opener: at Purdue, Tues.

Ohio State by fourteen.

#1 Wisconsin- Bo Ryan has led this team to a 13-0 record and a great start for the Badgers.  Sam Dekker’s team leading 14.5 ppg and 6.2 rpg is one of the reasons for their success including four wins against top 50 RPI teams.  A much improved, Frank Kaminsky is seeing more playing time and 14.2 ppg and 5.8 rebounds. 

Big Ten opener: at Northwestern, Thurs.

Wisconsin by ten.

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