Staff writer Lee Barfknecht ranks the Big Ten men’s basketball teams. RPI from rpiratings.com.
1. Michigan State (18-1, 7-0, 8th)
This week: Michigan. Even without all-conference big man Adreian Payne (day to day with a bruised foot), the Spartans keep rolling through league play. Just like football.
2. Iowa (15-3, 4-1, 29th)
This week: at Michigan, at Northwestern. Junior forward Aaron White can flat shoot it. He's first in the Big Ten in field-goal percentage (.659) and first in free-throw percentage (.857).
3. Michigan (13-4, 5-0, 25th)
This week: Iowa, at Michigan State. The Wolverines are in the midst of a run of three top 15 opponents in a row. That shouldn't faze them after the nonconference schedule they played (Arizona, Iowa State).
4. Wisconsin (16-2, 3-2, 4th)
This week: at Minnesota, at Purdue. After the Badgers started 16-0, they lost back-to-back games at home last week. Welcome to life in the Big Ten. “It's a very humbling game,” guard Ben Brust said.
5. Minnesota (14-5, 3-3, 33rd)
This week: Wisconsin, at Nebraska. Help, I need a mulligan. In the preseason Big Ten poll, I'm the dummy who picked the Gophers last. Now, they look like an NCAA tourney qualifier playing for a good seed.
6. Ohio State (15-4, 2-4, 15th)
This week: Illinois. Here are the Buckeyes' shooting percentages in the current four-game losing streak: .400, .446, .353 and .396. The season average before those four games: .474.
7. Indiana (12-7, 2-4, 77th)
This week: Illinois. Any argument on freshman of the year should have ended by now. Hoosier forward Noah Vonleh has won frosh of the week six times already with seven weeks to go.
8. Northwestern (10-10, 3-4, 131st)
This week: Iowa. The Wildcats are last in the league in scoring offense, and will stay that way as first-year coach Chris Collins milks the clock to try to milk wins — three in a row now — from a short-handed roster.
9. Purdue (13-6, 3-3, 88th)
This week: Wisconsin. The Boilermakers get 35 percent of their scoring from four true freshmen. That's the second most points in the Big Ten. Only Indiana has more.
10. Illinois (13-6, 2-4, 55th)
This week: at Ohio State, at Indiana. The Illini's four-game losing string could easily reach six this week, so keep an eye out for more sideline histrionics from coach John Groce. He's becoming a YouTube sensation.
11. Nebraska (9-8, 1-4, 71st)
This week: at Penn State, Minnesota. Sophomore Terran Petteway is one of just three Big Ten players in the top 10 in scoring and rebounding. The others are Rayvonte Rice of Illinois and Aaron White of Iowa.
12. Penn State (9-10, 0-6, 137th)
This week: Nebraska. With only one game this week, the Nittany Lions hope to lock in at home and break their Big Ten drought. Three of the six losses have been by 1, 3 and 3 points.