With conference play well underway, it is becoming easy to see the parity within the Big Ten. It feels like anyone can beat any team on any given night. As shown in the most recent polls, there seems to be a consensus 3-4 top teams in the conference, but in which order they rank is up for debate since they have already beat one another. While parity may be good for the Big Ten, it is unclear how these teams will compete out of conference.
Taking a look at this weeks polls, the list of teams from the Big Ten is dwindling.
Week Nine AP Poll:
- #17 - Purdue
- #18 - Wisconsin
- #24 - Minnesota
- Others receiving votes - Indiana (7), Maryland (5)
Week Nine USA TODAY Coaches Poll:
- #17 - Wisconsin
- #19 - Purdue
- #24 - Minnesota
- Others receiving votes - Indiana (15), Maryland (4), Northwestern (2)
There should not be many complaints about the polls this week. The only acceptable gripe may come from Purdue fans looking at the Coaches Poll. The Boilermakers looked sharp in a nationally televised victory over Wisconsin in West Lafayette on Sunday, but remained behind Wisconsin in the rankings.
Just when people thought it was safe to crown Wisconsin the top team in the Big Ten, Purdue foiled everyone’s plans and did so convincingly. Wisconsin struggled to defend the perimeter and the Boilermakers hit all their open shots. The strong interior presence of Purdue allowed them to win a very competitive game.
What I say to upset Boilermaker fans is you should be proud. No one goes into Mackey Arena and wins. It is an extremely difficult place to play, which is why Purdue was a two point favorite heading into that game. If the game was played in Madison, WI the outcome may have been different. Unfortunately the next opportunity for these two teams to meet will be in a hypothetical match up during the Big Ten tournament, which fans should expect both teams to go far in.
There has been one team to steal a win at Mackey Arena this season and they are finally getting some recognition. After dominating in the RPI rankings and spending weeks in the “others receiving votes” category, Minnesota has found their way back into the polls for the first time since February 4, 2013.
Everything is going right for the Golden Gophers at the moment. They dominated the Ohio State Buckeyes Sunday night. Before that they went into Purdue, the aforementioned place nobody wins at, and they won. Their only Big Ten loss this season was in overtime at home against Michigan State. Their KenPom ranking has continued to climb and currently sits at its highest rank of the year, 31st overall.
Say what you want about Ohio State, but both the Buckeyes and Boilermakers are veteran teams who were defeated by a relatively young Minnesota team. The Gophers are led by freshman guard Amir Coffey, who was named Big Ten Freshman of the week for his performances in these games. If this team can keep hanging with the top teams in the conference, the 24th ranking is only the beginning.
Indiana fell out of both polls this week and for good reason. The Hoosiers finally snapped their three game losing streak with a home win over Illinois. Indiana has not played a true road game since their November 22 loss to Fort Wayne. Their two neutral site games this season, though against ranked teams in Butler and Louisville, were both losses.
Needing to beat a slump busted like Illinois does not mean Indiana is a bad team, but it certainly warrants a drop in the polls. A return to the ranks could be imminent for the Hoosiers. If they can go on the road and defeat a talented Maryland team, Indiana should be favored in every game until they travel to Madison to take on Wisconsin.