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Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings 2020-21: Edition 1

Isaiah Livers, Michigan

The Big Ten has long been known as one of the most balanced and competitive leagues in college basketball. That has been made all the more true in 2020-21, with seven teams currently ranked in the Top 25 and as many as 10-11 teams with serious NCAA Tournament aspirations. With so much time left in conference action, there should be plenty of excitement and chaos left to experience. Here is my first edition of my "Big Ten Power Rankings" which I'll be updating regularly through the Big Ten Tournament (assuming it actually happens!).

* Updated through January 21st, 2021

1. Iowa Hawkeyes (12-2 overall, 6-1 conference)

Iowa holds the same record as Michigan atop the Big Ten standings, with both teams currently sitting at 6-1. Either team would fit nicely as the No. 1 in these first inital rankings, but the Hawkeyes have quite a tiebreaker: Luka Garza. Garza is averaging nearly 27 PPG on the season so far and has emerged as the clear Wooden Award favorite.

2. Michigan Wolverines (12-1 overall, 7-1 conference)

Michigan's undefeated season came to an end this past weekend during a road trip to Minnesota, but the Wolverines are still good enough to challenge for the Big Ten Title. They are blessed with one of the best true freshman in the entire nation in big Hunter Dickinson, as well as a quality group of veterans that includes Isaiah Livers, Mike Smith, and Franz Wagner. The schedule remains relatively light over the next few before a brutal early February slate of games.

3. Wisconsin Badgers (12-3 overall, 6-2 conference)

There's a slight dropoff here after the top two teams in the league, but Wisconsin fits in nicely in the third spot right now. The Badgers have a veteran-laden group headlined by guards Brad Davison and D'Mitrik Trice, as well as big Micah Potter, but you wonder if they have the offensive punch to realistically make a deep NCAA Tournament run. A 23-point drubbing to Michigan last week showed the team still has plenty to work on before March arrives.

4. Illinois Fighting Illini (10-5 overall, 6-3 conference)

Although 6-3 in the early Big Ten schedule is nothing to feel terrible about, the Illini's 10-5 overall record has been a little disappointing so far. The 1-2 punch of Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn has been terrific, but they need more consistency from the rest of the supporting cast to mount a challenge to the very top of the conference.

5. Minnesota Golden Gophers (11-4 overall, 4-4 conference)

There may not be a more confusing team in the entire country this year than Minnesota, who has four ranked wins at home, but four bad losses on the road. At some point, head coach Richard Pitino has to get the team to start playing better away from "The Barn" and a soft upcoming schedule could be the opportunity. With the Nebraska matchup postponed due to COVID issues, the Gophers will host Maryland next.

6. Ohio State Buckeyes (11-4 overall, 5-4 conference)

After a 2-3 start to conference play, Ohio State has gone on a little bit of a hot streak before a last-second loss to Purdue earlier in the week. Guards Duane Washington Jr. and Justice Sueing have been tremendous all year, but the real X-factor is forward E.J. Liddell. Liddell has been playing great basketball as of late, providing the Buckeyes the interior threat they need to be a sincere threat in the Big Ten.


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