Big Ten Hoops Power Rankings


Dec 21, 2014; Stillwater, OK, USA; Maryland Terrapins players Richaud Pack (20), Meko Trimble (2), Jake Layman (10) Jared Nickens (11) and Damonte Dodd (35) walk on the court against the Oklahoma State Cowboys during the first half at Gallagher-Iba Arena. Maryland defeated Oklahoma State 73-64. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland finds themselves ranked in the top 15 for the first time since 2006. The Terrapins have gotten off to an 11-1 start, including marquee wins against Arizona State, Iowa State, and Oklahoma State. As a whole, the Big Ten is a bit down as a conference. Below are my power rankings as of Dec. 28.

1. Wisconsin (12-1) – This a foregone conclusion. The Badgers returned nearly all their talent from a year ago, and currently are the number-six team in the nation. Senior forward Frank Kaminsky is a machine, who could vie for National Player of the Year. This is a team equipped to go deep in March.

2. Ohio State (11-2) – Much like Maryland, Ohio State has been paced by a freshman in D’Angelo Russell (17.7 points-per-game). Russell can do it all, and could have the Buckeyes in good shape once the NCAA Tournament rolls around.

3. Maryland (12-1) – After the Badgers, there’s much debate on who is really the second-best team in the Big Ten. Ohio State gets the slight edge over Maryland, but not by much.  Guard Dez Wells missed a good amount of the non-conference schedule, but the Terps didn’t miss a beat aside from the Virginia game. With forward Jake Layman and guard Melo Trimble elevating their play, Maryland is in terrific shape. Michigan State awaits in their inuagural Big Ten conference matchup.

4. Indiana (10-3) – The Hoosiers can flat-out score the basketball as they average 86.4 percent (fourth in the country). The backcourt of James Blackmon Jr. and Yogi Ferrell account for 40.8 percent of Indiana’s offense and are as talented a duo as you will see around the nation. Butler, Pittsburgh, and SMU make up their key non-conference wins. With this arguably being a make-or-break year for coach Tom Crean, the Hoosiers could be a dark horse team to watch in the conference.

5. Minnesota (11-2) – The Golden Gophers are enjoying a great start with their only losses coming against the elder Pitino’s Louisville squad and St. John’s. Andre Hollins and transfer Carlos Morris provide a deadly one-two scoring punch, which seems to be a common theme in the Big Ten. With Wisconsin being the only clear-cut elite team, Minnesota is another squad that could surprise a lot of people.

6. Penn State (12-1) – The Nittany Lions have been the laughing stock of the Big Ten when it comes to men’s basketball for quite some time. Since coach Pat Chambers has arrived in Happy Valley, things have slowly improved. Guard D.J. Newbill is one of the most gifted scorers in the land, and has Penn State with only one loss as they enter league play. With a strong showing in Big Ten play, recruiting could take an even bigger step forward.

7. Illinois (10-3) – The Fighting Illini really haven’t been relevant in the Big Ten standings since the days of Deron Williams and Dee Brown in the mid 2000s. Star Rayvonte Rice, guard Malcolm Hill, and a few transfers (Aaron Cosby & Ahmad Starks) have Illinois looking like a solid team heading into Big Ten play. Like several Big Ten teams, they’re scoring the ball at an alarming clip, and are in good shape thus far.

8. Michigan State (9-4) – This is a very different team than the one that reached the Elite Eight a season ago. Stars Gary Harris and Adreian Payne are gone, but there’s still a great deal of talent in East Lansing. The Spartans have had a very tough non-conference schedule in which they fell to the likes of Duke and Kansas. However, Michigan State has four players averaging double figures, and are among one of the most balanced teams in the conference.

9. Iowa (9-4) – The Hawkeyes have been somewhat inconsistent early on in the 2014-15 season, but did manage to beat a talented North Carolina team in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge earlier this month. All but one of their losses were to ranked teams, which could bode well for Iowa come tournament time. Forward Aaron White may be one of the best players in the conference that few people know about.

10. Nebraska (8-4) – The Cornhuskers are one of the biggeset surprises in the conference. After reaching the NCAA Tournament last season, Nebraska has had some bad losses in Hawaii, Incarnate Word, and Rhode Island. Terran Petteway and Savon Shields are as advertised, and could be enough to win some conference games for the Cornhuskers. Consistency is going to have to improve if they want to make back-to-back NCAA Tournaments.

11. Michigan (7-5) – The Wolverines lost a ton of talent from last year’s tournament team. Zak Irvin, Caris LeVert, and Derrick Walton Jr. are extremely talented, but there’s a huge drop-off after that. Post play will likely be an issue throughout the Big Ten portion of schedule.

12. Purdue (8-5) – While the loss total is starting to pile up, most of the Boilermakers’ losses were to decent BCS-level programs. However, they’ve lost their last three contest, including a 89-84 defeat at the hands of Gardner-Webb. Purdue has a relatively easy start to the Big Ten schedule, so that’ll likely determine the type of season they end up having.

13. Northwestern (9-4) – The Wildcats weren’t expected to factor into the race in the conference. They haven’t beaten anyone of note, and aside from an upset or two, likely should finish towards the bottom of the Big Ten.

14. Rutgers (8-5) – It’s been an interesting few years for the Scarlet Knights. After the Mike Rice saga ended, the school made a slam dunk hire in a coach with DMV ties in Eddie Jordan. His vision is slowly being to fruition, but the offense is only averaging 60.6 points-per-game, which is good for 312th in the nation.