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Polls Breakdown: Not much movement, Northwestern making noise

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Not much has changed in the sixth week of the polls, but that might not last long with Northwestern riding a hot streak

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern vs Dayton Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

For many Big Ten teams non-conference play is winding down. Teams are getting in their final tune ups before conference play begins in the new year. A few Big Ten teams have made early tournament cases and used non conference play to gain valuable resume wins which will be looked at in March.

Diving into the polls, everything looks pretty status quo. Week five saw little to no shakeup, with all the ranked Big Ten teams handling their business. Here are the week six rankings.

Week Six AP Poll:

  • #14 - Wisconsin Badgers
  • #15 - Purdue Boilermakers
  • #16 - Indiana Hoosiers
  • Receiving votes - Maryland Terrapins, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Northwestern Wildcats

Week Six Coaches Poll:

  • #9 - Indiana Hoosiers
  • #14 - Wisconsin Badgers
  • #16 - Purdue Boilermakers
  • Receiving votes - Maryland Terrapins, Michigan State Spartans, Minnesota Golden Gophers

Thoughts

There is not a whole lot to take away from this week’s poll. There were no ground breaking shifts and none of the top teams were upset this week. The only difference between this week and last week is Northwestern receiving votes for the first time this season in the AP Poll.

What I take from this poll is there is little discrepancy over who the top three teams in the conference are. What I found interesting is how close Wisconsin, Purdue and Indiana fell in the AP Poll. Having the three teams ranking one after anther seems fitting to me. There seems to be little separating these three teams on any given night. All can look like they will earn a top three seed in March at any given time. They are also all beatable teams, as we have seen throughout non-conference play.

Purdue had the most impressive win of the week, defeating in-state rival and No. 21 Notre Dame on Saturday. While a win over a ranked team is never easy, the victory was made possible by a huge second half by Caleb Swanigan and the Boilermakers, who trailed by 14 at the break.

A team that lost to Notre Dame earlier this season, Northwestern, won three games last week including an impressive three point win over the Dayton Flyers. The Wildcats are riding a hot start from senior Sanjay Lumpkin and translating it into resume wins. Dayton currently sits 40th on the KenPom rankings. They will likely return to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth consecutive year and are among the best of the A10 Conference. They also lost to Nebraska, so take it for what its worth.

The Wildcats wrap up with a pair of winnable non-conference home games before beginning conference play. Their conference schedule is back loaded, with their first real test coming at home against Indiana. Do not sleep on the possibility of the Wildcats going into East Lansing and defeating Michigan State in the coming weeks. What seemed like a challenge to start the season now looks a lot easier.

The Minnesota Golden Gophers, still riding their 7-0 start to the season remained low in the receiving votes category this week. No complaints there. The Golden Gophers beat a weak St. John’s team and a pair of middling SEC teams in non-conference play. The true test will come during the first few weeks of conference play when they play Michigan State, Purdue, Northwestern and Ohio State in consecutive games.

Notable omissions from the receiving votes section in my opinion were Michigan and Ohio St. Both teams have suffered some tough non-conference losses. Both teams also played one of the country’s best teams, UCLA, very tough. Obviously the polls had no time for moral victories. Expect both teams to make noise and work their way back into the conversation in the near future.