We're a good way into the conference season, and the overall picture is still pretty muddy. As a soon as a team seems to rise above the pack, they suffer an odd loss that brings them back to earth. When a team looks like their season is hopeless, they'll pull out a crazy upset like Minnesota did at Indiana.
That being said, it's time for Power Rankings, a weekly attempt by our writers to figure out the mess that is the Big Ten. Feel free to argue about the rankings in the conference; next week this list will probably be a lot different.
Enough with the introductions, here are the Power Rankings, with the average rank after the team name.
1. Michigan State - 1.4
The Spartans have looked impressive in their four conference wins, including at Wisconsin and at home against Indiana. Their upset loss to Northwestern on Sunday has kept them from standing alone at the top of the conference standings.
2. Ohio State - 1.6
OSU was a near-unanimous choice to take home the conference title this year. They have hit a couple of speed bumps at the Assembly Halls of Indiana and Illinois. Their four conference wins have been blowouts, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Buckeyes atop the Power Rankings soon.
3. Indiana - 3.6
IU's home wins over Kentucky and Ohio State showed that this team is a lot better than the Hoosiers of the past few years. Their losses at MSU and OSU are nothing to be ashamed of, but the home loss to Minnesota was definitely a surprise.
4. Illinois - 4.0
Illinois looked terrible in their loss to Purdue, but they bounced back with a close win at Northwestern. Brandon Paul's 43 point outburst against Ohio State is the early favorite for performance of the year.
5. Michigan - 4.4
Michigan looked good in the early going, but they haven't won a conference game on the road. Their last two outings haven't been impressive; they will need to pick it up to have a chance to win the conference.
6. Wisconsin - 6.6
The win at Purdue was nice, but this Badger team does not look as impressive as they have in the recent past. They are already have two conference losses at the Kohl Center, which is highly unusual.
7. (tie) Purdue - 7.2
To say the Boilermakers have been inconsistent this year is to the state the obvious. Their wins at Iowa and Minnesota are looking more impressive now, and they destroyed Illinois in the second half of that game. Their 20-point loss to Penn State remains that team's only conference win, and they looked bad in their home loss to Wisconsin.
7. (tie) Iowa - 7.2
The Hawkeyes suffered some embarrassing non-conference losses, but they seem to be putting it together at the right time. Iowa already has wins at Minnesota and Wisconsin, and their home win against Michigan was impressive. A .500 record is a good start, especially with the schedule they have played.
9. Northwestern - 9.4
The Wildcat win against Michigan State shouldn't have been too big of a surprise. Northwestern had lost close games against Illinois and Michigan, and they finally broke through on Sunday. A few more quality wins and Northwestern could be on the right side of the bubble in March.
10. Minnesota - 9.6
In their opening conference games, Minnesota looked like a team whose best player was lost for the season. Rather than packing it in and cursing their bad luck, the Gophers pulled out a big upset at Indiana, and followed that up with a win at Penn State. That Minnesota is tenth shows how deep the Big Ten is this season.
11. Penn State - 11.2
Penn State's dominating win over Purdue is looking stranger as time goes on. Their recent losses to Minnesota and Nebraska were more of what we expected.
12. Nebraska - 11.8
Nebraska has had a rough introduction into the conference. Their home win against Penn State was nice. They'll probably pull out a few more conference wins, but not much more than that.