The Big Ten race is really starting to take shape at this point. However, outside of the top, the middle and bottom continues to grow more interesting. Let's take a look at how the Big Ten Powerhouse staff voted in this week's Big Ten power rankings:
Week 12 Power Rankings
#1 - Michigan State (Average - 1.1)
The Spartans not only maintained their lead in the power rankings, but they actually extended their lead, which is impressive considering we are in the middle of Big Ten play. Last week, MSU had an average of 1.2 and only led by 0.7 over WIsconsin. With the Badgers going down and MSU continuing to win, they now held every #1 vote except from one voter and lead by 1.1. MSU gets Indiana and Michigan at home this week.
#2 - Iowa (Average - 2.2)
The Hawkeyes jumped a spot largely due to Wisconsin's two losses and settled in at #2. Iowa has been on a winning streak as of late including wins over Ohio State and Minnesota, which are both at least solid wins. They have a challenging slate this week with Michigan and Northwestern on the road.
#3 - Michigan (Average - 3)
The Wolverines continued their undefeated start to Big Ten play with wins over Penn State and Wisconsin. Michigan appeared to be slipping, but has rebounded significantly this year. They jumped two spots this week and with Iowa and MSU on the docket this week, it's pretty easy to say that they could be #1 next week with two wins.
#4 - Wisconsin (Average - 3.8)
The Badgers lost their first game of the season last week, but followed it up with a loss to Michigan at home. Wisconsin is still a good team, but they are definitely in need of a rebound. Unfortunately, the Badgers get no home games this week with Minnesota and Purdue on the road. Neither are "must win" games, but a loss or two would mean a huge hit to Wisconsin's Big Ten title hopes.
#5 - Minnesota (Average - 5.4)
The Gophers may not be the perfect team this season, but they are starting to put together a pretty good tourney resume and are still playing very well at home. They beat OSU last week and fell to Iowa on the road. The good news is that the schedule gets much easier in the near future after a game against Wisconsin at home. If the Gophers can do well against Wisconsin and Nebraska this week, they could be in good shape.
#6 - Ohio State (Average - 5.8)
The Buckeyes narrowly slid to #6 on the power rankings after losing 4 straight games. OSU is not playing good basketball right now and their offense looks like a wreck. They only get Illinois at home this week, but that game is as close to a must win as you can get.
#7 - Indiana (Average - 7.3)
The Hoosiers lead the bottom half of the conference by just a thin margin. They had an odd week with beating Wisconsin and losing to Northwestern. They get MSU on the road and Illinois at home this week. The Hoosiers desperately need some wins to get some postseason stability.
#8 - Purdue (Average - 7.5)
Purdue has been a quiet team this year, but are gradually moving up the ratings. They are now #8, but they actually have a good shot at moving up even more in the near future. They play Northwestern and Wisconsin this week and two wins could really help their bubble status.
#9 - Illinois (Average - 9.7)
OSU may be the fastest falling team in the conference, but the Illini are not far behind. A few weeks ago, people were debating whether they deserved to be considered in the top group. Now, they are shaping up more like a bottom team in the conference. They get OSU and IU this week.
#10 - Northwestern (Average - 9.7)
The Wildcats won again and have laid claim to #10 on this list. This team is not going to the tourney, but with a few more wins, they might make the CBI or NIT. They get Purdue and Iowa this week.
#11 - Nebraska (Average - 11.1)
The Cornhuskers beat OSU on Monday for their best win of the season. They still only have one loss at home and could possibly be the most dangerous team at the lower end of the conference, especially on the road. They get Penn State and Minnesota this week.
#12 - Penn State (Average - 11.5)
The Nittany Lions have fallen to dead last in the rankings. If they can beat Nebraska this week, maybe they move up, but being winless in the conference is not going to lend much confidence.
Nothing is too surprising at the top spot given Wisconsin's two losses and MSU's undefeated conference record, but the spots just below them are a bit interesting. One would think Michigan would get the bump over Iowa, but the Hawkeyes actually have a decent amount of space at #2. Maybe this is due to overselling that Iowa win on the road over the Buckeyes, but the separation is surprising. Michigan has the most impressive win of either team with that road win over Wisconsin and has another Big Ten win (Minnesota on the road) that is starting to look more and more impressive. Iowa has beaten the Gophers, but did it at home. According to our power rankings, Iowa's best Big Ten win so far this year is that win over Minnesota at home, which implies Michigan has not one, but two wins that are more impressive than Iowa's best conference win. Considering this, and Michigan's undefeated Big Ten record, it's a little surprising to see the divide.
In the rest of the top portion, it makes sense to keep Wisconsin over Minnesota. The Badgers lost a tough road game to Indiana and to a pretty good Michigan team that also beat Minnesota. Of course, they face each other so we will get a better idea of those teams this week. OSU has an interesting spot. You would think that they should drop even more with a 2-4 record in the conference, but Indiana also just lost to Northwestern. Along with that, Purdue has been trending up, but they still haven't beaten any of the top teams in the conference so it might be a little too early to jump on that bandwagon.
In the lower portion, Illinois seems to be holding on just a bit. If Nebraska and Northwestern can keep playing better, Illinois might actually drop even lower on this list, which is not good news for Illini fans. However, arguably the most disappointing spot could belong to Penn State. There was a lot of hope that Frazier could help that lineup produce some wins. They are way better than last year, but don't have much to show for it.