Big Ten Hoops Power Rankings March Tipoff Edition

ready for the dance illini

When doing a Big Ten Power rankings this time of year, there's three
tiers. You have your top three teams, a force to be reckoned with in
national college basketball. Then you have this muddled mix of mediocre
blah. Some of it will rise to the cream, and possibly make a run in
March because this is kind of a down year nationally.

Some of the muddled mass is just ugly mush though; but those teams will
get a tourney bid anyway because expanding the field by three (although
the perfect move at the perfect time, making the field more even and
eliminating the condescending play-in game) has actually watered down
the bracket much more than anyone anticipated.

Then there's the third tier- which is just...kind of ugly.

1. Ohio State Buckeyes (27-2, 14-2)- Jared Sullinger
post touches are getting too few and far between in recent games. Coach
Thad Matta needs to fix that. And for them to stay on that top line
seeding wise, they need to shore up their d.

"We've allowed too high of a field goal percentage. We've turned
some teams over, but we needed to get back to a mindset of defense.
We've got to keep that intensity, every play it has got to be there.
You look at Illinois and Purdue, we gave up some easy baskets," Matta
said Sunday.

2. Purdue Boilermakers (24-5, 13-3)- Nice, convincing road win at Michigan State Sunday, they might play themselves into a #2 seed yet.

3. Wisconsin Badgers (22-6, 12-4)- Who saw Jordan Taylor coming? I seriously had not even
heard of him before this winter, and now he looks like an all-big ten
first teamer.

THE MUDDLED MEDIOCRE MIDDLE

4. Illinois Fighting Illini (18-11, 8-8)- I
feel so dirty and disgusting putting them here, but what other options
do I have? Michigan State looked like the 8th or 9th best team at home
on Sunday, and the Spartans are the only team below that I can honestly
say is a better team. For more on the Illini bubble profile go here.

5. Michigan State Spartans (16-12, 8-8)- Normally, I would rank them higher just because they
always turn it on in March. But can you really see them doing this year?
Honestly? This is also the one year that their traditional Big Ten
Tournament struggles will bite them in the ass.

6. Penn State Nittany Lions (15-12, 8-8)-When you
first glance at Penn State, you may wonder how their 15-12, 8-8 in he
Big Ten record gets them placed on the dance card. Look closer and
you'll see a phenomenal #6 strength of schedule and a decent #53 RPI.
For more detail on the tourney chances go here

7. Michigan Wolverines (18-12, 8-9)-
Most bracketologists have them as one of the last teams in; which is
interesting. So by default all the bubble teams ahead of them here on
this list are in as well. But don't forget- there will be bids stolen
during Championship week, so they (as well as ILL, MSU, PSU still have
work to do)

THE BAD: these teams need to worry about their NIT chances at this point.

8. Minnesota Golden Gophers (17-11, 6-10)- They
lost the battle with Michigan on Saturday for the little brown jug, oh
wait, sorry that's college football. Anyways, that was kind of a
"play-out game," like the opposite of a "play-in game." PLEASE stop
calling wins over this team a "resume win." Yes, before Al Nolen went
down that phrase truly applied. But today, they're a train wreck without
a point guard.

9. Northwestern Wildcats (16-12, 6-11)-
If ever there was season that proved you actually have to schedule real
teams in the preconference, this is it. If they want to be a big boy
program they need to actually schedule legitimate opponents in the
non-conference. Until that starts happening, you can't take them
seriously as a tournament bid contender.

10. Indiana Hoosiers (12-17, 3-13)- Tom Crean has his excuse already handy should they lose at Illinois next Saturday. Here it is

11. Iowa Hawkeyes (10-18, 3-13)- Is this roster full of obscure names? Take my spot the fake Hawkeye Quiz! Answers in nest BTPR.

1. A. Cody Cox B. Zhane McCullen C. Devon Archie D. Darius Stokes

2. A. Jordan Stoermer B. T.J. Sayre C. Branden Stubbs D. Shonfar Sampson

3. A. Roy Marble B. Melsahn Basabe C. Plexiconius Johnson D. Zach McCabe

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net , a Midwest webzine. He's also a regular contributor to the Tribune's Chicago Now network, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank

He also does a regular guest spot each week for Cleveland.com and  Chicagoland Sports Radio.com

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    Paul M. Banks

    Fulbright scholar in media studies, MBA, small media business owner, Published author, Founder of The Sports Bank.net, a Fox Sports affiliate Member: Society of Professional Journalists, Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association. Former political writer for Washington Times.com, NBC Chicago.com and numerous business journals Credentialed for: United Nations, Rose Bowl, BCS National Championship, Final Four, Stanley Cup Finals, and NBA Playoffs. Been featured on: Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports Live, The History Channel, CBS and ESPN radio. Does weekly segments for NBC and Fox Sports Radio stations across the nation.

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