Big Ten Power Rankings: January 24 – Inside the Hall

We’re approaching the halfway point of conference play, but there’s no clear favorite for the regular-season crown.

Michigan State leads the league in the loss column, but Illinois, Ohio State and Wisconsin are just one game behind. Purdue is able to put together a long winning streak and get into the mix and Michigan, one of the preseason favorites, finally seems to be hitting its stride.

Here’s a look at how the league compares to Sunday’s games:

14. Nebraska (0-8, 0.936 PPP, 1.178 PPP cleared)

Fred Hoiberg and the Huskers remain winless in the Big Ten after a loss to Indiana last week. Nebraska was forced to postpone Saturday’s game against Ohio State due to COVID-19 protocols. Going forward, it will be interesting to see if the return of Trey McGowens can give Nebraska a boost in the latter part of the season. McGowens played for the first time in more than two months in Nebraska’s loss to Indiana and scored seven points in 21 minutes.

13. Minnesota (2-5, 1,031 PPP, 1,127 PPP allowed)

The Golden Gophers started the season 10-1, but have lost four of their last five games. Minnesota picked up a 68-65 home win over Rutgers on Saturday, which was impressive considering Ben Johnson beat Jamison Battle, EJ Stephens and Eric Curry. Three of Minnesota’s starters played 40 minutes in the win and Payton Willis exploded for 32 points, including 8 of 13 shooting 3s.

12. North West (2-6, 1.022 PPA, 1.098 PPA allowed)

The Wildcats have now lost six of their last seven games and their most recent showing was an 80-60 thrashing at Purdue on Sunday. The Boilermakers were without Jaden Ivey in the game, but Northwestern still allowed 1.33 points per possession in the loss. At 9-8 overall and 2-6 in Big Ten play, the NIT appears to be the ceiling for this Northwestern team. It would be the fifth straight season without an NCAA Tournament appearance for Chris Collins, who guided the program to its only tournament appearance in 2017.

11. Maryland (2-6, 1.03 PPP, 1.087 PPP cleared)

The Terps showed signs of life with an impressive 81-65 win over Illinois on Friday at College Park. Maryland is 2-2 in its last four after starting 0-4 in Big Ten play. Donta Scott exploded for 25 points off the bench in the win over the Fighting Illini, who were without Kofi Cockburn (concussion protocol). Maryland has been one of the league’s biggest disappointments this season, but there’s enough talent on the roster to spoil the streak of conference play.

10. Penn State (3-5, .984 PPP, 1.049 PPP allowed)

The Nittany Lions have been respectable defensively in Big Ten play, but just haven’t had the offense to consistently win in league play. In its last Big Ten outing, Penn State was knocked out 68-51 at Iowa. Sam Sessoms (42.9%), Myles Dread (45.8%) and Seth Lundy (38.6%) all continue to shoot the ball well beyond the 3-point arc in conference.

9. Rutgers (5-3, .991 PPP, .999 PPP cleared)

Steve Pikiell sent Rutgers back to the bubble conversation when the Scarlet Knights improved to 5-2 in Big Ten play with a 48-46 win over Iowa on Jan. 19. But the thought of the bubble was short-lived when Rutgers lost 68-65 to Minnesota over the weekend. Rutgers could very well finish near .500 in Big Ten play, but it will be tough to overcome losses to DePaul, Lafayette and UMass in non-conference play. Ron Harper Jr. is having a great senior season at Piscataway and is shooting 45.7 percent over 3s.

8. Indiana (5-4, 1.015 PPP, 0.987 PPP cleared)

The Hoosiers picked up two much-needed wins last week (at Nebraska, Purdue) but were eliminated at home to Michigan on Sunday. The loss to the Wolverines was of particular concern because of Indiana’s poor defense. Michigan scored 1.21 points per possession and made 11 of 17 3-pointers. Mike Woodson called the performance “awful”. Indiana won’t have much time to regroup since Penn State, which has already beaten the Hoosiers at State College, comes to Bloomington on Wednesday.

7. Iowa (4-4, 1.06 PPP, 1.026 PPP cleared)

Despite losing Luka Garza and Joe Wieskamp, ​​Iowa is squarely in contention for another NCAA Tournament berth due to its elite offense. The Hawkeyes rank seventh nationally in adjusted efficiency and have now won three of their last four games after a 1-3 conference start. Keegan Murray would be the first-team All-Big Ten if the season ended today and KenPom predicts the Hawkeyes will finish 21-10 in the regular season, which would be more than enough for another spot at March Madness.

6. Michigan (3-3, 1.126 PPP, 1.029 PPP cleared)

Juwan Howard could finally figure things out with one of the most talented groups in the league. Michigan earned its best win of the season on Sunday when it strangled Indiana 80-62 at Assembly Hall. The resume is still lacking in terms of quality wins and there’s a lot of work to do for this group, but Hunter Dickinson is playing at an All-American level after missing a game due to COVID-19.

5. Wisconsin (6-2, 1,062 PPP, 1,051 PPP cleared)

Wisconsin’s seven-game winning streak was snapped Friday when Michigan State won 86-74 in convincing fashion at the Kohl Center. The Badgers have won plenty of close games so far in the league but simply had no defensive answer for the Spartans. Michigan State scored 1.23 points per possession in the victory and had five players in double figures. Johnny Davis, meanwhile, needed 20 shots and eight free throw attempts to score 25 points in the loss.

4. Ohio State (5-2, 1.062 PPP, 1.01 PPP cleared)

The Buckeyes haven’t played a Big Ten game since Jan. 16 and destroyed IUPUI last week in Columbus in a non-conference tilt. This is an important week for Ohio State as it plays a pair of road games at Minnesota and Purdue. The Buckeyes have lost their last two road games by an average of 13 points.

3. Purdue (5-3, 1.12 PPP, 1.013 PPP allowed)

Purdue is the best team in the Big Ten by KenPom ratings, but already has three conference losses. Its two losses on the road resulted in a total of five points (Rutgers and Indiana) and the Boilermakers are going to have to tighten things up defensively to claim the Big Ten crown. Still, the trio of Ivey, Trevion Williams and Zach Edey are among the best in the country, as is the supporting cast led by Sasha Stefanovic, who shoot nearly 42% on 3s.

2. Illinois (6-2, 1.095 PPP, 0.988 PPP cleared)

The Fighting Illini lost two games last week against Purdue and Maryland. Purdue’s loss came in double overtime at the State Farm Center and was the first time Illinois had their entire roster in nearly two months. The availability of the full roster, however, was short-lived as Cockburn missed Maryland’s game over the weekend with a concussion and the Illini fell 16 at the Xfinity Center.

1. Michigan State (6-1, 1.095, 0.982 PPP cleared)

There’s nothing spectacular about this Michigan State team, but the Spartans have taken care of business so far in league play without a mistake at home last week against Northwestern. Michigan State sits atop the Big Ten with a 6-1 record and has the league’s best defense and fourth-best offense. The Spartans have won 10 of their last 11 games and will look to go undefeated in real road games when they travel to Illinois on Tuesday. Michigan State is 4-0 on the road, including 3-0 so far in Big Ten play after its impressive win this weekend at the Kohl Center.

Filed in: Big Ten Power Rankings

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