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The Line with Caroline: Big Ten Power Rankings

1. (1) Indiana
The Hoosiers performance against Roy’s Tarheels still haunts me.  Assembly Hall was rocking, Dick Vitale was gawking and Cody Zeller reminded Carolina he was the better Zeller.  He is leading the team in points, rebounds and blocks.  You can’t ask for much more.  The big game this week is at Butler on Saturday.  Although the Bulldogs aren’t ranked,  it’s an instate rivalry game, so anything can happen.

2. (3) Michigan
Wolverine fans should be excited.  This team hasn’t been ranked this high in over a decade. The Wolverines are legit.  The only scary part was the defensive breakdown in the second half against NC State.  Tim Hardaway, Jr. and Trey Burke are averaging 16.6 points and the rebounding leader is Glenn Robinson III, with seven per contest.  Burke is leading the league in assists (7.1) and helping this team gain back dominance. With more focus on defense, this team can compete.

3. (7) Ohio State
This team impressed against Duke.  There is no shame in losing by just five at Cameron Indoor.  DeShaun Thomas’ conference leading 21 points per game is key.  The date to circle on the calendar is December 22nd against Kansas.

4.  (14) Minnesota
Rodney Williams is the key to Tubby’s team.  He is a tough defender with a solid 12.9 ppg with 5.8 rpg.  Then there is Andre Hollins who erupted for 41 point game against Memphis and is averaging 14 ppg.  Their only loss is to Duke by 18, but they came back and won three in a row against Memphis, Stanford and Florida State.  Don’t count the Gophers out.

5. (13) Illinois
Brandon Paul is averaging 18.3 ppg and he and the rest of the Illini face a big road test this Saturday at Gonzaga.  This contest will speak volumes for Illinios.  There are still three undefeated teams in the Big Ten, so let’s see how long this streak will go.  Illinois also started 10-0 last year.

6. (19) Michigan State
This is starting to look like the Spartans football season.  Tom Izzo needs to figure out the inconsistencies of this team and quick.  The loss at Miami was just embarrassing. Keith Appling is going to need to become the leader on this shaky team.  A win against a rebuilding Kansas, a scare against Louisiana-Lafayette and the Miami loss don’t indicate a power team in East Lansing at this point in the season.

7. Wisconsin
Their big defensive win at Cal stands out, but the loss at home to Virginia is confusing. Jared Berggren (15.1 ppg) and Ben Brust (13.5) are the teams high scorers.  Both need to stay consistent to get the Badgers to the upper half of the conference.

8. Purdue
This young team is starting to gel, but must find a way to be more consistent.  The win at Clemson was a good win, but the home loss to Bucknell doesn’t look good on any resume.

9. Northwestern
The wins against Illinois State and Baylor are a start.  But the pounding by the Terps and loss to Illinois-Chicago demonstrate this team has a lot of work to do. Seniors Reggie Hearn and Drew Crawford need to stay consistent and pick this team up.

10. Nebraska
The win at Wake Forest and against Valparaiso weree impressive, but Creighton will expose their weaknesses on Thursday.  Dylan Talley, 15.6 ppg and Brandon Ubel, 14ppg can’t carry the whole team.

11. Iowa
My Hawkeyes need to play the whole game.  The losses to Wichita State and Virginia Tech exploited their lack of defense.  Roy Marble, Jr. and Aaron White are leading the offense, but Fran McCaffery needs to encourage better rebounding and less hand check fouls.  The Hawks haven’t played any ranked teams just yet, but a home game against Iowa State and a road trip to Northern Illinois this weekend will be close games that should give Iowa more confidence.

12.  Penn State
Tim Frazier is out for the season and so are the Nittany Lions.  With the big home loss to Boston College, and the 25 point loss to Akron, this team is in trouble.   Penn State does not play a ranked team until the new year, so it will give a chance for others to step up. Will D.J. Newbill or Jermaine Marshall become the new leader?

For more sports talk and other shenanigans, follow me on  Twitter @Mihawkeye.