B10_LogoTM_620Ohio State starts out the Big Ten being the favorite to win the championship. Without a top 10 team or a team even close to the amount of proven players Ohio State has, on paper the Buckeyes are a shoe in. The Buckeyes have the best player in the Big Ten, the best perimeter defender, probably the best wing player, and this doesn’t even include Des\Shaun Thomas, who won Big Ten Player of the Week last week. Ohio State isn’t a proven road team yet, so their schedule consisting of 5 away games against ranked opponents is a concern.  

Not only does Ohio State play tough road games but half of their opponents in the Big Ten schedule are currently ranked, as you can see in the college basketball betting lines. That should tell you something about the state of the conference, the depth of quality teams is the best amongst the nation. So, with Ohio State having an extremely tough conference and Wisconsin having a relatively easy schedule, the Big Ten title isn’t necessarily a given. Wisconsin plays 7 ranked teams, 3 of which are on the road, the least amount of ranked games in the Big Ten. Anyway, there are unknowns. What will the rotation be? Who is going to be coming off the bench? My best guess is we’ll see Sibert and Ravenel often with sprinkles of Williams, Thompson, Scott and Ross.

B1G Power Rankings:

1. Ohio State - I believe this is a consensus amongst everyone that watches basketball. Whats not to like, other than a unproven bench and inconsistent shooting, there aren't many weaknesses. There isn’t another team with the same talent level and as long as Sullinger and company stay healthy it’s almost a given that the Bucks finish in the top 3.

2. Wisconsin - The Badgers are going to benefit from one of the weakest schedules in the Big Ten but they are a very good overall team.Wisconsin is 0-2 against top 25 teams with a 3 point in against UNC in Chapel Hill and a loss to Marquette the day of the Big Ten Championship Game. Wisconsin isn’t going to outscore anyone but do have a good outside shooting team and the Big Ten’s best point guard Jordan Taylor. The Badgers are going to make their hay with their defensive, which is the nation’s best and are holding opponents on average to 44.67 ppg.

3. Michigan State - After losing their first two games against North Carolina and Duke, Michigan State has won 10 straight games but only one was against a top 25 team (Gonzaga). Led by All-American candidate Draymond Green, the frontcourt of the Spartans is dominant. They’re currently in the top ten in rebounding and will cause problems for post players around the league.With that said, the backcourt isn’t quite up to snuff yet, the development of Keith Appling, Travis Trice and Branden Dawson will determine how far the Spartans go.

4. Indiana - I’m not so sold on Indiana yet - they’re a good top 25 team but I’ve seen them rated as high as the 2nd best team in the Big Ten. Now, the Hoosiers have some really nice players in Zeller, Oladipo, Hulls and Watford but none of them have went through the gauntlet of conference play in contention. How will they handle playing @Michigan State, Ohio State and Michigan in consecutive games? Indiana has statistically the best shooting team in the Big Ten and with the a revived fanbase, they’re not going to fall apart. Expect 9-11 wins in the Big Ten.

5. Michigan - We’re all familiar with freshman Trey Burke out of Northland H.S. He is talented but combining his talents with Tim Hardaway Jr. has made the Wolverines a team to watch in the Big Ten. With no effective big men, much of Michigan’s success is dependent on they’re streaky shooters Zack Novak and Stu Douglass. Michigan’s needs to be able to rebound and limit second chance opportunities in order to make the big dance.

6. Illinois - This is the Big Ten’s ultimate bubble team. Illinois has plenty of talent but are extremely inconsistent. The Illini are 11-2 and only losses are against Missouri and UNLV, that’s decieving because their resume is currently better than their team is. Illinois doesn’t shoot the ball particularly well but their biggest weakness is turnovers. The good news or bad news, is that they are going to finish up with 3 out of 4 games against ranked opponents.

7. Minnesota - The Gophers are here by default. They’re 12-1 without any good wins and their lone loss is against a good but inconsistent Dayton team. With the loss of their best player Trevor Mbakwe, the Gophers don’t have a player averaging over 9.9 ppg.  We’ll learn a lot about Minnesota in the next two weeks with games against Illinois and Michigan on the road.

8. Northwestern - Northwestern has played a couple of decent teams and nearly beat Creighton just last night; they have a decent win against LSU but aren’t a proven team by any means.The Wildcats have John Shurna and Drew Crawford both of which could earn Big Ten honors by the end of the year but lack a post presence. Northwestern will struggle against physical teams that attack the glass.

9. Purdue -  Purdue does return Robbie Hummel and have quality players in Lewis Jackson and Ryne Smith. Hummel isn’t the same player that he was two years ago, with that said he will still give a number of teams trouble and it would only be right to see Hummel end his career in the tournament. Purdue is 10-3 but will most likely end up in the bottom half of the conference.

10. Nebraska - Well, the Cornhuskers start off the Big Ten season with 6 of 7 games against ranked opponents. Although they do have a good player in Bo Spencer it’s unlikely that Nebraska does to much damage in the BIG.

11. Iowa - Iowa is on a three game winning streak but there really isn’t that much to like about the Hawkeyes. The Hawkeyes are going to be in the Big Ten’s cellar for the season. Perhaps they could make the NIT but that doesn’t seem likely. Iowa has been down for awhile in basketball and it doesn’t look to be turning around this year.

12. Penn State - This was a tight race but Penn State edged out Iowa for the worst team in the BIG. With the losses of Taylor Battle, Andrew Jones and Jeff Brooks the Nittany Lions aren’t a promising team. They do have Tim Frazier who is averaging 17.2 ppg 5.8 rbs 7.2 ast, but he is their only bright spot.

Award Predictions:
Big Ten Player of the Year- Jared Sullinger (F/C OSU)
1st team- Jordan Taylor (G Wis), William Buford(G OSU), John Shurna (F NW), Draymond Green (F MSU), Jared Sullinger (F/C OSU)
2nd team- Tim Frazier (G PSU), Bo Spence (G Neb), Robbie Hummel (F PU),
Cody Zeller (F/C Ind), Meyers Leonard (C Illi.)
Defensive Player of the year- Aaron Craft (G OSU)
Sixth man of the year- Ben Brust (G Wis)