As pre-season tournaments finish up this Black Friday and the B1G/ACC Challenge approaches, let’s take our first look at how the conference is stacking up thus far with our inaugural edition of the 2019-20 Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings.
Without further ado:
1. Michigan (7-0)
Juwan Howard’s debut season has been going gangbusters. After impressively defeating North Carolina yesterday, the Wolverines routed eighth-ranked Gonzaga for their second straight top-ten win and the Battle 4 Atlantis championship. The will play at #2 Louisville on Tuesday. Isaiah Livers has been a scoring machine thus far, while returners Jon Teske and Zavier Simpson have also contributed on the offensive side of the ball.
2. #10 Ohio State (6-0)
The Buckeyes have looked really good so far, highlighted by their big 76-51 win over then #10 Villanova. Junior Kaleb Wesson, averaging 12.7 ppg, has been a consistent scorer for Chris Holtmann’s squad. Another impact player has been sophomore Duane Washington, Jr., a sophomore who’s not afraid to shoot the triple. The undefeated Buckeyes travel to Chapel Hill next Wednesday for the B1G/ACC Challenge, a true test against a quality Tar Heels team.
3. #5 Maryland (6-0)
The Terps havee yet to lose a game this season, led by the solid play of Jalen Smith and Anthony Cowan, Jr., who played well in a tough win over a solid Temple team. Notre Dame and Illinois await the Terps, who could threaten Ohio State and Michigan State for supremacy in the conference, after the ongoing Orlando Invitational.
4. #3 Michigan State (5-2)
Sparty has two losses on its CV thus far despite many a pundit predicting them as the team to beat in the conference, falling to a Kentucky team which later lost to Evansville and Virginia Tech. MSU did also take down #13 Seton Hall, though. The Spartans have a phenomenal backcourt, led by Cassius Winston and will see a boost with the return of Josh Langford toward the beginning of January.
5. Iowa (5-1)
The Hawkeyes took down defending national runner-ups and 12th-ranked Texas Tech 72-61 on Thanksgiving day. Losing Jack Nunge to a torn ACL was a huge blow, but senior point guard Jordan Bohannon had a huge game, picking up the slack. A game against an undefeated SDSU squad will further test Fran McCaffery’s side.
6. Indiana (6-0)
Indiana has arguably surpassed expectations thus far, but they have yet to play anyone really of note. Archie Miller’s squad hosts Florida State, a game which can help to better gauge the Hoosiers’ ceiling.
7. Penn State (5-1)
The Nittany Lions were undefeated until blowing a 21-point lead against Ole Miss. If and when Myles Dread, Curtis Jones, and Myreon Jones can start hitting shots on a consistent basis, Penn State can compete among tournament teams. They’ll have the opportunity to bounce back against Syracuse this afternoon.
8. Illinois (6-1)
Kofi Cockburn, Ayo Dosunmu, and co. have a good thing going in Champaign, as the Illini have scored 237 points in their last two games (albeit against Hampton and Lindenwood). Tests again Miami and Maryland await.
9. Purdue (3-2)
A stripped-down team after last year’s run to the Elite Eight, the Boilermakers have lost to two solid squads thus far (Texas and Marquette) and face VCU and Virginia in the coming week, resume-building games but also contests that could send Purdue below .500.
10. Rutgers (6-1)
Rutgers lost a winnable game against St. Bonaventure, but other than that blemish, they’ve taken care of business thus far. An intriguing clash with Pitt next week will lead into Big Ten play.
11. Wisconsin (4-3)
Wisconsin lost back-to-back games to Richmond and New Mexico and has been plagued by inconsistent shooting. They went just 2-26 from deep against the Lobos. The Badgers are still looking for someone to fill Ethan Happ’s role as a go-to scorer. NC State should be a tough test for Greg Gard’s squad.
12. Minnesota (3-3)
Young, annoying Pitino’s team took down North Dakota. A test against DePaul awaits before Clemson in the B1G/ACC Challenge on Monday. Local product Daniel Oturu has led the way for the Gophers thus far:, averaging a double-double (16.7 ppg and 10.8 reg).
13. Northwestern (3-3)
The ‘Cats have been inconsistent, defeating a solid Providence squad and convincingly blowing out Bradley yet losing stinkers against Merrimack and Radford. Pete Nance and Miller Kopp have improved in their sophomore seasons, and Pat Spencer still might be the most fascinating player in all of college basketball.
14. Nebraska (4-3)
The Huskers fell to George Mason by 19 after winning three in a row. Fred Hoiberg’s squad play Georgia Tech and Creighton on the road in the coming weeks, so it’ll be interesting to see how they look coming into conference play.