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Big Ten Power Rankings

With college football now done and March Madness just two months ago it is time to start focusing on college basketball and the premier conference: the Big Ten. Three Top 5 teams are in the conference but who is the best in the conference and who is the worst?

1. Michigan State Spartans 14-1 Signature Win: Kentucky
Adreian Payne
The preseason Big Ten champ has definitely why they deserved that. Led by an experienced group the Spartans are 14-1 with big wins over Kentucky in the Champions Classic and Ohio State in overtime. Senior forward/center Adreian Payne has been fantastic this year for the Spartans, averaging 16.2 points per game and 7.7 rebounds per game. Along with sophomore wing Gary Harris (Spartan leader in minutes with 31.7) and point guard Keith Appling (15.9 points per game) Michigan State has a very imposing frontline. They have depth and discipline throughout their roster and Tom Izzo is a fantastic coach. The crazy thing about Michigan State is that they might not have reached their ceiling. The Spartans always tend to play better late in the season and are always extremely dangerous in the Big Dance.
Next Game: vs. 13-3 Minnesota

2. Wisconsin Badgers 16-0 Signature Win: Florida
The Badgers underneath Bo Ryan have always been a good team; they will always play great defense, are disciplined on both sides of the ball and are fantastic shooters. Though, this year something has changed for the better. The Badgers have used super sophomore Sam Dekker (14.3 points per game on 51 percent from the field) and junior forward Frank Kamisky, who dropped 43 in a victory over North Dakota, to go 16-0 one of their best starts in school history. They have beaten quality opponents as well, with wins over Florida and Marquette outside of the conference and beating Iowa by four and dominating Illinois inside the Big Ten. The Badgers are going to be a real threat this year and they have the game plan that means they can do some damage come March.
Next Game: @ 10-5 Indiana

3. Ohio State Buckeyes 15-1 Signature Win: Notre Dame
Even without Deshaun Thomas, their leading scorer in 2012-2013, the Buckeyes haven't missed a beat this year. Thanks in large part to senior Aaron Craft the Buckeyes sit at 15-1 and nearly beat Michigan State in overtime. Craft isn't much of a scorer but does everything well. He is a great leader, fantastic defender and shows heart and hustle every single game. Along with high-flying forward Sam Thompson and junior forward LaQuinton Ross the Buckeyes certainly have the talent to compete with the best in the entire nation. Though, Ohio State still has to prove themselves they have yet to get a big win yet, their best victory was probably over Notre Dame. The Buckeyes' schedule will heat up in late January and early February but until then they will sit here at 3 until they can prove themselves.
Next Game: vs. 12-3 Iowa

4. Iowa Hawkeyes 12-3 Signature Win: Xavier
Fran McCaffrey has quickly changed the Iowa program around and they appear to quite the threat inside the Big Ten at the moment. They do have three losses but all are to clear contenders like Villanova by five in overtime, undefeated Iowa State and Wisconsin by four. Senior wing Roy Devyn Marble has been key to the Hawkeyes' success, he is their leading scorer with 16.1 points per game and also averages 3.7 assists. He is a versatile scorer with a solid jumper and he also has the size to get to the rim. The talent level in Iowa City is the most in years with other great contributors Aaron White and sophomore point guard Mike Gesell who is a lot like Craft. Iowa will also be searching for a signature win, one could come on the 12th on the road against Ohio State.
Next Game: @ vs. 15-1 Ohio State

5. Illinois Fighting Illini 13-3 Signature Win: Missouri
It has been transfers that have carried Illinois to a strong start as Drake transfer Rayvonte Rice and in-state transfer Jon Ekey who is spending his final year with the Illini after a great career with Illinois State. Rice has been especially dangerous on the dribble averaging 18.8 points a game early and Tracy Abrams has also been a key contributor. Though three-point shooting has been a real issue for both (Abrams is shooting just 26%) and the rest of the backcourt. John Groce and Illinois had a hot start last year before cooling off considerably. They are definitely hoping that a 25 point loss to Wisconsin was a one-time occurrence. Missouri is a nice win but close losses to Georgia Tech and Oregon hurt.
Next Game: @ 7-8 Northwestern

6. Minnesota Golden Gophers 13-3 Signature Win: Florida State
First year head coach Rich Pitino has been fantastic early leading a talented Gophers team to a 13-3 start. The backcourt has been great and up-tempo led by the Hollins, who have no relation. Andre, their point guard is an athletic distributor and Austin has proven he can take over games with his shooting. The question for the Gophers is if they have the scoring and depth in the frontcourt. Without Rodney Williams and Trevor Mbakwe Minnesota has had growing pains and has yet to get a big win outside of a strong performance against a good Florida State team. Minnesota needs a couple big wins in order to push them over the bump on Selection Sunday.
Next Game: @ 14-1 Michigan State

7. Michigan Wolverines 10-4 Signature Win: Stanford
Due to a brutal schedule the national runner-ups have had some real issues this year, slumping to a 10-4 record. Things should definitely turn around in the Big Ten but the loss of big man Mitch McGary is massive. Michigan is giving significant minutes to Jon Horford up front who isn't much of an offensive threat. Glenn Robinson is a very confusing player to me as he is so inconsistent. Sometimes he looks like a future NBA star but he isn't very aggressive and his shot hasn't been there this season. The Wolverines have some great shooting in Spike Albrecht and sophomore Nik Stauskas, who they have leaned on much of the year, but they have yet to get over the hump and get a huge win. Michigan is immensely talented but they need more down low to move up much in these rankings.
Next Game: @ 8-6 Nebraska

8. Indiana Hoosiers 10-5
Sure, there have been some growing pains this year as expected considering Indiana lost Christian Watford, Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo but the Hoosiers are still a threat. Freshman forward Noah Vonleh is an explosive talent and sophomore point guard Yogi Ferrell brings much needed experience.
9. Penn State Nittany Lions 9-7
Don't count out the Nittany Lions inside the Big Ten. Senior guard Tim Frazier is one of the best players inside the conference and is a high-scorer (17.1 points per game). Penn State needs some big men to step up in order to take the next step.
10. Purdue Boilermakers 10-5
Purdue could also be a dark horse inside the Big Ten, they are 10-5 and have the talent to do some things. The Johnsons, Terone and Ronnie, lead an up-tempo attack that can constantly make plays and big man A.J. Hammons has the raw potential to be one of the most dominant players inside the conference. Come the end of the year the Boilermakers could be a bubble team.
11. Nebraska Cornhuskers 8-6
Tim Miles is slowly turning Nebraska into a better basketball school but this year won't be the year for a breakthrough. Sophomore guard/forward Terran Petteway is an elite-caliber scorer but Nebraska doesn't have much around him, they are only averaging 69.7 points per game, 240th in the nation.
12. Northwestern Wildcats 7-8
Chris Collins definitely has a rough road ahead of him as he tries to turn Northwestern into a power.
The first year head coach has relied heavily on guard Drew Crawford who is scoring 16 points a game and 7.3 rebounds. Down low, Northwestern doesn't have a big man to compete with some of the bigger schools inside the Big Ten.

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