First an apology or two. As you’ve probably noticed, my posting frequency has decreased a bit lately. While it is admittedly cliche, real life got in the way. A couple of weeks ago I came down with a nasty case of the flu. Sitting upright was a challenge, and sitting upright while typing just wasn’t worth the effort. In a bit of good news, I accepted a new job, which won’t affect any of you, but it will certainly make my life a bit more pleasant. This past weekend I was down in the great state of Nebraska (OK, the land of corn and a surprising amount of urban sprawl) visiting my grandfather who has been bravely battling cancer, though the cancer has the upper hand. I didn’t get a chance to watch, listen to, or follow the game online. Great work by an aspiring sportswriter huh? Though it seems like my grandfather would have been able to pull down a rebound or two more than the entire Gopher front line. While my time management skills admittedly leave much to be desired, life should be calm enough for me to write about as much as I was before. I appreciate the patience, and hope that at least a few of you haven’t abandoned this site.
Now on to the power rankings.
The biggest change is that over the last few months the “Big Three” became the “Big Four” with the emergence of Purdue, and unexpectedly and almost miraculously, it may be a “Big Five” with Ohio State’s self resurrection. A supposedly down Big Ten has a very real chance to get more teams to the Big Dance than the SEC or the ACC. Perhaps the bragging from ACC country will be slightly muted after next year’s ACC/Big Ten challenge.
The tortoise won again. They aren’t flashy. They might not be the best equipped team in the conference to make a deep tournament run, but they have been solid and consistent all season. Beating Penn State and Northwestern in their last two games of the conference season certainly allowed the Badgers to relax in over the last week.
The Baby Boilers came up one game short during a season when they were supposedly one year away from putting all the pieces together. This year was special, and may become even more special, but no one can blame Purdue fans for looking forward to next year already. The Boilermakers should be the favorite to win the conference championship next season.
#3 Michigan State
Their loss to Ohio State a week after the Indiana drubbing is a bit mysterious, but with what they did to Indiana, that loss isn’t enough to drop them below the Hoosiers. Pencil in the Spartans when you fill out your brackets, because they will the most frustrating team to predict. They scored 42 and 103 points in back to back games. Are they really the same team?
The Hoosiers are reeling. Since Kelvin Sampson moved to a farm in western Kentucky, or wherever it is that disgraced coaches go, the Hoosiers gave up 82 points to Northwestern, barely beat Ohio State, were outplayed by Minnesota for 32 minutes, gave up 103 points to Michigan State, and lost to Penn State. They have the talent to get to the Elite 8 at least, but for a team in this much turmoil, talent clearly isn’t enough.
#5 Ohio State
After no worthwhile wins, and their bubble apparently burst, the Buckeyes some how beat Michigan State and Purdue. Both wins came at home, and home wins aren’t as impressive as road wins, but no team has done more in the last week to improve their tournament chances.
How far have the Gophers come? An 18 win season, twice as many wins as last year, is disappointing. The win over Ohio State looks like a “signature” win now, but it remains the only impressive victory so far. And the Illinois curse continues…
#7 Penn State
Somehow, some way, Penn State won 7 games in the Big Ten this year, including wins over Michigan State and Indiana. No one wants to see anyone get hurt, but the rest of the Big Ten has to be secretly happy that Geary Claxton blew out his knee.
It was a horribly disappointing season for the Illini, and barring a conference tournament championship, it will end that way too. Though, maintaining their ridiculous winning streak over Minnesota had to make the last week a little more bearable.
The Hawkeyes lost 5 games by single digits, but this isn’t horse shoes or hand grenades. After a few surprisings wins early in the Big Ten season, Iowa lost 6 of their last 8 games. Their two wins? Northwestern.
They really lost to Northwestern?
They lost to everyone but Michigan