|I entered "powers rankings" in Google images and this is what came up. Honest.|
Let me start out by saying I don't think I'll be getting on board with this sophomoric "B1G" logo/abbreviation thing. I am seeing it creep into the lexicon of the Big Ten Blogger community (including my co-editor here at BS) and every time I see it I think it looks like either a military acronym or something a really poor typist (again, like my co-editor here at BS) would do. Either way, it's all part of the horribly designed new Big Ten branding that we've already railed against (and probably will continue to).
However, it's handsome power rankings time... with B-dowd jetsetting around the snowy countryside, you'll be dealing with me today. Hopefully, I won't screw it up. Let's go worst to first. And let's also note that the Big Ten has been a little odd lately, with pretty much everybody other than OSU managing to lay some stinky eggs in the past week or so.
11. Michigan State -- Yes, they're at the bottom this week. I honestly don't know how you could put them anywhere else. B-Dowd and I looked at their schedule after the loss to the Boilers and we saw vs Mich, vs IU and at Iowa and we joked that after those three wins, they'd be back to being ranked. Well, they almost lost all three to some of the league's bottom-feeders (a one-point win in OT over IU was the only thing saving them from currently being on a 5-game losing streak. Oh, and they go to Madison next. Have fun with that.
10. Iowa -- You're out of the cellar, boys, and believe me, I'd love to put you even higher after the absolutely dominant (not joking) performance over MSU. I mean, seriously... Iowa was up over 20 at halftime and maintained it. The game was never in doubt and, well, would anyone have believed that was possible at the start of the season? So yes, Iowa gets some love, and I'd love to put them higher, but they're actually still pretty bad.
9. Northwestern -- I feel like the Kitties should get a little more love after almost taking down #1 OSU, even without Shurna, but in the end they didn't pull it off. And when you look at their body of work, it should make you mad if you're a fan of NU. This was a team that was -- again -- thought to maybe be the one that finally makes the tourney and now their only Big Ten wins are IU, Iowa and Michigan. Fine, but win a couple where maybe you shouldn't be automatic.
8. Michigan -- The Wolverines have played a manly schedule this year, which we respect immensely. But starting 1-6 in the conference is not a good resume-builder, and while they appear, on the surface, to be righting the ship, their two straight wins have come against MSU (who I think we can all now agree are not what we all thought) and Iowa. The Wolves get the Bucks tonight and you can be sure we'll have our Maize and Blue on.
7. Indiana -- Here's your reward, Hoosiers...a bump to #7 in the BS Handsome Power Rankings. Two consecutive wins (at home) over ranked opponents (though neither will be ranked much longer), including one that was court-storm-worthy. I especially liked ESPN putting up the graphic of their last two consecutive home wins over ranked teams. Those wins were in February 2008. And then a few days later, the sky fell...but ESPN failed to mention that.
6. Minnesota -- You're lucky, Gophers, because you probably belong lower...but as I said earlier, there were so many stinky eggs laid recently, even the top half of the rankings are filled with teams that haven't been performing up to snuff. I half-considered giving everyone other than OSU a ranking below 5 and just leaving a few slots blank. The Gophers are soft, plain and simple.
5. Illinois -- As B-dowd said last week, Coach Weber is not doing a great job with his talent and upper-classmen-laden team. However, I'm not prepared to rank them at the bottom of the conference, simply because they're still a talented, dangerous squad. As I look at their schedule, I think they should finish at least 6-3 the rest of the way. If they don't, Weber should be questioned.
4. Penn State -- Yes, this is a little high. But I love their effort, they've beaten three ranked teams in their last four wins, and this is all in spite of Ed DeChellis. I think they could finish 6-2 in their last eight, though it will mean a couple of tough road wins (tough, but winnable -- MSU and Minn). That would make them 18-11 (11-7 Big Ten), which probably won't get them into the NCAA tourney. But this is the kind of team that could easily win the NIT and hang another banner in Bryce Jordan.
3. Purdue -- The Boilers have lost four of their last seven, including the blowout loss in Columbus. However, all the others have been in their grasp, but for their inability to finish. Will that change down the stretch? I think it can and should. The game the other night in Madison was unquestionably the toughest road test the Boilers had left, and they nearly won it despite playing like horsesh-t for 75% of the game. That's not to say the Boilers' road is easy by any means, but nothing worth having ever is.
2. Wisconsin -- How does evil Bo Ryan always wind up in the top tier of the conference? It's kind of incredible. He just rotates in thick, white, upper midwest blockheads who beat the ever-living crap out of their opponents all season...and as we've said before, he also now has a team that can shoot, too. No, they're not the most talented team in the conference, but they're playing solid ball. Like Purdue, they haven't lost at home and have only three Big Ten losses. However, with the win over the Boilers, they have a slight edge. Fortunately, the Badgers come to Mackey in two weeks.
1a. Travis Carroll -- I can't get enough of this guy. He deserves a spot in the rankings by himself.
1. O$U -- This team is money! Despite their letdown game against NU, the Bucks remain undefeated. And perhaps that's the difference between potentially great teams and near-great ones; the Buckeyes were able to survive their letdown game.
Until next week, stay warm and remain handsome.