Predictions of how the Big Ten will finish based off of the performances of the teams, week to week.
TOP TIER- Teams that will make an big impact and have the best chances of winning the Big Ten title.
1.) Ohio State (13-0) [ Last Week: 1 ] - No change here this week. Ohio State has continued to handle business, defeating South Carolina, North Carolina-Asheville and Oakland last week. They remain unbeaten on the season and hold the best record in the Big Ten. They deserve to be here. If they keep playing like they are now they will hold a pretty outstanding chance to win the Big Ten all together, outright. Every night they play, you see them do the same thing, come out of the gate, ready to play, making shots right off the bat. That is a big part of the reason they are still unbeaten. When you make shot early and consistently, it takes the life our of the other team and just like that, you take them out of the game early and cruise to victory. Ohio State is rolling on all cylinders right now. (Postseason Projection: NCAA Tournament)
(More projections after the jump)
2.) Purdue (11-1) [ Last Week: 3 ] - Purdue moves up a spot after the struggles of Michigan State sent them tumbling two spots. Purdue has shown they are ready for Big Ten play over the past week, especially in their last game. Players stepped up and showed what they can do. Everyone did their part. Hats off to D.J Byrd who scored 15 points in Purdue's victory over IPFW. That 15 points is what Purdue needs every now and then and if someone can deliver each game, the Boilers will be in good shape. Purdue has no losses on the Holiday week. Tomorrow, they open their Big Ten season at Michigan. Their final game of 2010 will be on New Year's Eve. against Northwestern at home, I will be in attendance at that game. The Boilers look good going into Big Ten play. (Postseason Projection: NCAA Tournament)
3.) Minnesota (11-1) [ Last Week: 5 ] - Minnesota continues to roll to five straight wins after suffering a surprising loss to Virginia. The Gophers look really good since suffering that loss. I think sometimes it takes a loss or two for players to build a team that has chemistry and clicks. Minnesota has that right now. They do have a couple questions that remain, but as of now, they should figure that out really quick come Big Ten season. If they keep it they are definitely in contention for a top five in the Big Ten. (Postseason Projection: NCAA Tournament)
4.) Michigan State (8-4) [ Last Week: 2 ] - Michigan State has a funk going on among the players. This is a funk they are having trouble resolving. I have faith in Tom Izzo to figure out what it is and help the team out, but it is ultimately the players that have to break out of the slump. Michigan State has to win against Minnesota at home. If they don't, I see the Spartans in real trouble. This might not be like other seasons, where a few losses early help them out in the long run. This could be a legit "average" team. Maybe they aren't what they really are cracked up to be... I guess we will see. Spartans.. just win against #13 Minnesota and we will go from there. (Postseason Projection: NCAA Tournament)
5.) Illinois (10-3) [ Last Week: 4 ] - Illinois has dropped two games in a row. One of which was not supposed to be anything but a tune up (UIC). I don't think there is anything wrong with the Illini. I don't think they are in a funk like MSU. I think it is just a poor shooting night and a little bit of bad luck here. Illinois will bounce back going into Big Ten play. Not really any other comments about the Illini. (Postseason Projection: NCAA Tournament)
6.) Wisconsin (10-2) [ Last Week: 6 ] - Wisconsin has broke away from the middle tier, barley. Never the less, they have done it. I put them out of the middle tier this week because I feel like they are proving that they are dangerous and people are overlooking them. They can be just a dangerous as anyone, if they come to play. We all should get serious about the Badgers. Bo Ryan has them whipped into shape and ready to take on #13 Minnesota tomorrow. (Postseason Projection: NCAA Tournament)
MIDDLE TIER- Teams that have a chance to stir up the Big Ten race and make it interesting.
7.) Northwestern (9-1) [ Last Week: 7 ] - Despite stumbling against St. John's, Northwestern didn't move. Northwestern will be Northwestern and the number seven spot is still very very manageable for them. They can get to seven or higher, and probably will, if Michigan doesn't surge up the board, which is plausible. (Postseason Projection: NCAA Tournament)
8.) Michigan (10-2) [ Last Week: 8 ] - Michigan was moved out of the lower tier this week because a 10-2 record in non-conference play is just not lower tier. Michigan plays #11 Purdue at home tomorrow. We will see what they are made of. Michigan is capable of being a dangerous Big Ten foe. They just have to get over a few humps. Who knows, in the next couple weeks they could surge up the board. Michigan is a wait and see team at this point. Their only losses came back to back early. They might have figured out the recipe for success. They have also been moved from a NIT team to a NCAA Tournament team. (Postseason Projection: NCAA Tournament)
LOWER TIER- Teams that just aren't there yet.
9.) Penn State (8-4) [ Last Week: 10 ] - Penn State beat Indiana tonight, which is why they are moving on up. Penn State will not start 0-11 this year in the Big Ten. Ahhh, a sign of Big Ten improvement. It makes me so proud. They will have a tough time coming up though, with Michigan, Purdue, MSU, Illinois, OSU, Purdue all in a row. (Postseason Projection: NIT)
10.) Indiana (9-5) [ Last Week: 9 ] - Indiana is in trouble. Three straight losses. No sign of improvement. Indiana needs to get things figured out.. and quick, or it is bound to be a LOOOOOONNNNG Big Ten season, for sure. (Postseason Projection: NIT)
11.) Iowa (7-5) [ Last Week: 11 ] - Iowa will be Iowa. What can I say? Things are looking up this week. Two straight wins. Wow. Impressive...... now they have Illinois, OSU, Purdue all in a row. They will win all of those............ (Postseason Projection: No Postseason)