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Inside NU Big Ten Power Rankings: Jan. 20

How do our writers rank the 14 teams?

Alex Olah will probably make this face when he reads our rankings
Alex Olah will probably make this face when he reads our rankings
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Most teams are through a handful of games in the Big Ten, and things are beginning to shake out. Still, there have been upsets no one could have predicted (Rutgers over Wisconsin?!), drama, injuries, and the surprising emergence of one of the conference's newest members, Maryland. Here is how we ranked the teams thus far.

Voters: Henry Bushnell, Jason Dorow, Kevin Dukovic, Daniel Rappaport, Zach Pereles, Josh Burton, Ben Goren and Kevin Trahan

1. Wisconsin (average rank: 1.0)

Wisconsin is the unanimous number one in this poll despite the inexplicable loss at Rutgers. They were without Kaminsky, but still. Rutgers? RUTGERS? The Badgers play Iowa twice in their next three games. If Kaminsky's healthy, this team is clearly number one. Are they really worse than Rutgers without him?

2. Maryland (2.0)

The consensus number two, Maryland has been a pleasant surprise in both Big Ten basketball and football. The Terps will play host to Wisconsin on Feb. 24 in what might be a matchup of the top two teams in the Big Ten. Melo Trimble has been huge for this team.

3. Iowa (3.6)

The disagreement between writers begins here. Iowa entered the AP Top 25 this week at number 25. Fran McCaffrey's club has beaten Ohio State twice this season and North Carolina once. The Hawkeyes will be at Wisconsin on Tuesday to see if they are truly deserving of this ranking.

4. Indiana (4.3)

The Hoosiers also entered the Top 25 at No. 23. They've won three straight after a 20-point loss to Michigan State. This team can flat out score. Their 81.6 points per game is first in the Big Ten and 11th in the nation, and six Hoosiers average over six points per game. Who says the Big Ten is all about defense?

5. Michigan State (5.0)

This is the team our writers disagree about most. One writer has them at three, another at seven. The Spartans took Maryland to overtime earlier in the year, but then got walloped by them by 16 on Saturday. Those two games sandwiched a three-game winning streak, including double-digit wins over Indiana and at Iowa. Right now, we don't really know who these Spartans are.

6. Ohio State (5.3)

Ohio State has five losses, but all are to current Top 25 teams. Basically, the Buckeyes beat who they should and lose to teams that are slightly better than they are. Makes sense, right? Thad Matta is directing a team with a freshman point guard for the first time in 4,167,256 years. Just kidding, Aaron Craft wasn't there quite that long. Until the Buckeyes beat someone they shouldn't or lose to someone they shouldn't, this middle ranking will likely stay pretty much the same.

7. Purdue (6.9)

Perhaps the Big Ten is composed of six top teams and then the first noticeable drop off. That's how our staff thinks, anyway. The difference between Ohio State and Purdue (1.6) is significant. Purdue is never going to blow you out or get blown out; that much is obvious. In conference play, four of their five games have been decided by single digits.

8. Minnesota (8.9)

The second biggest difference in our rankings is here between Minnesota and Purdue. The Golden Gophers are 1-5 in the conference. Their high-paced, high-turnover style of play is fun to watch, but must be maddening for fans. They score 78.9 points per game, good for third in the conference, but give up 66.9, good for tenth.

9. Illinois (9.0)

It's hard to tell exactly what the Illini are at this point, perhaps more so than any other team, because their best player, Rayvonte Rice, is hurt. He'll be back, but the Illini will have to get through a few more weeks without him. This could be a good thing -- players gaining experience and confidence without him -- or a bad thing -- timing and rhythm thrown off when he returns. I'm willing to bet it's the former, and I think Illinois will be much higher by the end of the year.

10. Michigan (10.1)

Michigan currently sits at fifth in Big Ten standings, but Caris LeVert is done for the season. It will be interesting to see how the Wolverines, who have eight freshmen on their team, try to replace him. LeVert was leading the team in points, rebounds, assists, and steals per game.

11. Nebraska (10.3)

Coming into the season, the big question for Nebraska was how it would deal with high expectations this year. The answer has been "not well." Terran Petteway has played well and Shavon Shields has been a terrific second option offensively, but there is virtually no consistent third scorer on this team. Tim Miles has said that finding a third way to score -- whether it be a third player or a new gear on offense -- is his top priority.

12. Northwestern (12.4)

Here's the definitive bottom of the pack, with a 2.1 average ranking drop occurring. The Wildcats have been painfully close on several occasions already this year. But painfully close doesn't help in the Power Rankings. If Northwestern could have turned those one- or two-possession losses into wins, they would be closer to 10. Side note: By the transitive property, Northwestern>Rutgers>Wisconsin.

13. Rutgers (12.9)

The lone Wildcat conference win so far was at the expense of the Scarlet Knights. Piscataway is still celebrating Rutgers' win over Wisconsin, and rightfully so. Eddie Jordan's best hope to build his program is shocking wins like that and getting either Miles Mack and/or Kadeem Jack drafted.

14. Penn State (13.6)

If Penn State fans are looking for happiness this winter, their focus should not stray from Joe Paterno getting his wins back. Unfortunately for D.J. Newbill, who is averaging over 21 points per game, the Nittany Lions are simply not on the same level as the majority of the Big Ten.

Wisc. Mary. Iowa Ind. MSU OSU Purd. Minn. Ill. Mich. Neb. NU RU PSU
Henry Bushnell 1 2 5 6 4 3 7 8 9 11 10 12 13 14
Jason Dorow 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 9 11 13 12 14
Kevin Dukovic 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9 8 12 10 11 13 14
Daniel Rapaport 1 2 5 4 6 3 7 9 8 10 11 12 14 13
Zach Pereles 1 2 3 4 6 5 7 9 10 11 9 14 13 12
Josh Burton 1 2 4 3 5 6 7 10 9 8 11 12 13 14
Ben Goren 1 2 3 4 7 5 6 8 9 11 10 13 12 14
Kevin Trahan 1 2 4 5 3 6 7 10 8 9 11 12 14 13
Average 1.0 2.0 3.6 4.3 5.0 5.3 6.9 8.9 9.0 10.1 10.3 12.4 12.9 13.6