Every once in awhile — not on any particular schedule — we'll put out Big Ten basketball power rankings. With Northwestern's Big Ten season about to start, here's our first edition. This week's voters were Henry Bushnell, Kevin Trahan and Josh Rosenblat. You can see how we all voted in the chart at the bottom of the screen. Enjoy! And, as always, please comment with why we're wrong.
1. Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin (33 votes) — Each of us ranked a different team No. 1 . Henry chose Michigan State, Kevin chose Ohio State and Josh chose Wisconsin. There's an argument for all three. Michigan State might be the most talented when healthy, Ohio State has been the most dominant and Wisconsin has the best wins. It should be a fun season at the top of the conference.
4. Iowa (27) — Everyone in the country seems to have Iowa fourth. The Hawkeyes pretty clearly look better than everyone below them, but they aren't quite a contender. To reach contender status, Iowa has to start hitting its free throws and winning close games, especially since the schedule might be the toughest in the nation from here on out.
5. Illinois (22) — The Illini got a nice win over Indiana at home, but need to play better to beat the best teams in the conference. Still, John Groce's squad looks legit after losing a lot of talent last year. Rayvonte Rice has been a huge boost, joining a strong core of Tracy Abrams, Joseph Bertrand and Nnanna Egwu.
6. Michigan (21) — Star forward Mitch McGary is out indefinitely and isn't likely to return this season. Still, between stars Nik Stauskas and Glen Robinson III, and an improving Caris LeVert, there is plenty of talent there for the Wolverines to make some noise in the conference.
7. Minnesota (18) — The younger Pitino can coach. In his first year at Minnesota, Richard Pitino has his team positioned for an NCAA Tournament run heading into Big Ten play. The Hollinses are faces of the teams, as expected, but Deandre Mathieu is right up there with Rayvonte Rice and Terran Petteway in the Big Ten Transfer of the Year running so far.
8. Indiana (16) — Yogi Ferrell has really stepped up this year, but without him and Noah Vonleh on the floor, Indiana really struggles to do anything offensively. Still, the Hoosiers were in position to win at Illinois, but inexplicably left Ferrell off the court and had Evan Gordon take people one-on-one. It... didn't work.
9. Purdue (13) — Purdue looked like a sleeper to make some noise in the Big Ten heading into the year, but the Boilermakers have struggled with consistency so far. The Johnsons have been okay, but Purdue's biggest key to winning this year will be A.J. Hammons. He has to start getting more minutes, seeing as he's only played 48.2 percent of available minutes this year.
10. Nebraska (8) — The Cornhuskers can score, especially from beyond the arc, and they're going to upset a good team this year when they're firing on all cylinders. Terran Petteway has been the star, but Shavon Shields, Ray Gallegos and highly-touted freshman Tai Webster of New Zealand are all capable players. The frontcourt isn't good enough for Nebraska to make a run, but this young team is well-positioned for the future.
11. Penn State (7) — Tim Frazier, D.J. Newbill and Ross Travis are all strong offensive players, but the Nittany Lions haven't gotten enough contributions from other players. That can lead to long scoring droughts, as it did in an overtime loss to Princeton, and the lack of depth was one of the reasons for Penn State's loss to Michigan State — a game Pat Chambers' team led early.
12. Northwestern (3) — The focus is firmly on next year for this team, but there are still some things Northwestern needs to improve to build for next year. Among them are continuing to develop Tre Demps and Alex Olah, and refining the game of Sanjay Lumpkin. If those things happen, this season will be a success, because wins could be few and far between.
How we voted:
|Ohio State||11||12||10||33||1||Ohio State|