Homestretch Power Ranking

As we talked about on the HH and ad nauseaum during this season, our wish is that Purdue will be playing its best basketball of the season come March. It looks like we might get our wish as they continue to roll along- they've been the really beating good teams and winning the games that they're simply supposed to. Plus, with the exception of DJ Byrd, pretty much everybody's healthy and Byrd is playing through multiple injuries (as he has most of the season).

With all that said, and in the wake of a nearly-unblemished February, here's what we think of the BT right now:

1. aOSU
The only way they lose this spot is if the Forces of Good win out and they stumble...but I don't see it happening. They reminded Illinois why they're on the bubble and who's in the lead in the conference a few days ago. It gets easier for them Sunday before a few tougher tests.

2. Purdue
I'm fond of this team for some reason...and the more they play, the more I like what I see. The media will tell you that it's JJ and Smooge carrying the squad- people that watch every game know that players like Byrd are really the lifeblood of Painter's system. Plus, it seems that everyone has not only accepted, but embraced their roles.

3. Wisconsin
Bo Ryan might rival Gene Keady (in his prime) as the best regular season BT coach I've ever watched. This season has followed Ryan's blueprint for success and Bucky is in great position for the NCAA tourney.

4. MSU
After beating Illinois and Minnesota, Sparty now has a chance to beat UM and help to pop three bubbles in a two week span. Plus, they host our Boilers Sunday and can affect the BT regular season race as they scratch and claw their way back to respectability and into the dance.

5. Penn State
A win over aOSU might be enough to get PSU into the dance...their quality wins are pretty astounding and the fact that they've played much better in conference would be taken into account by the committee.

6. Michigan
Even when they don't win these days, they compete...which is better than much of the conference this February. The middle of the BT seem to be competing for the most creative way to play themselves out of the dance...UM & PSU, conversely, both seem to be playing solid basketball.

7. Illinois
The loss to IU might have been the straw that completely broke this heartless camel's back. Poor Senior leadership, listless effort, poor shot selection and underwhelming rebounding effort for a tall, athletic team are the hallmarks of the Illini the last month and one-half.

8. Northwestern
They'll get to the NIT, but Thompson deserves to go out on a higher note than the record that the Wildcats currently have.

9. Minnesota
One win in the month of February is a sign of just how far this early conference leader has fallen. I can't see how they get into the NCAA tourney with the way they've played since Nolen went down.

10. Iowa
Clearly Iowa has run out of gas and their lack of depth is killing the at this point. Iowa has zero four-star athletes on the roster.

11. Indiana
The Hawkeyes record might be the same, but their situation is quite different. McCaffrey is a hands-on coach that focuses on Xs & Os and execution. Crean seems to be a pre-game motivator and in-game cheerleader and allows his assistants to worry about the details. The result this season is an underachieving, but talented squad. IU has probably won its last game of the '10/'11 campaign, and without another win, the Hoosiers will have one fewer win than '09/'10.

Paint Crew Beats Izzone!

Purdue Matches Feat Accomplished By NU and Iowa; Sweeps IU