As is the custom with voting in polls and rankings here at MadTown Badgers we will always err on the side of transparency. This basketball season our brothers over at Delany's Dozen are putting the best and brightest Big Ten bloggers together and I get a vote in said poll.
So, each week I will also unveil how I voted and why. So after the holiday tournaments are over and before we get into the B1G/ACC Challenge let's dive into my vote from this week!
1. Indiana (6-0) – This team is able to score in just about any way possible and it doesn't have to rely on just Cody Zeller to do it all for them either. They are averaging nearly 90 points a game and they passed their one big test by beating Georgetown in overtime of the Legends Classic Championship. Of course this week will be a huge test with the Tar Heels coming to Assembly Hall.
…. more after the jump ….
2. Michigan (5-0) – I'm quickly becoming impressed with the makeup of this team, as defensively they haven't given up more than 62 points in a game. That includes matchups with Pitt and Kansas State in the NIT Season Tip-Off championship run. They're good, they're young and getting better each week.
3. Michigan State (5-1) – The loss to UConn is looking less and less like the bad loss it was to open the season in Germany, but I am not 100% sold on this team yet, especially after having to narrowly defeat Louisiana-Lafayette in their last outing. Yes, they have injuries they are dealing with but there are other issues I see with this team at this point in time that have me worrying about their Big Ten fate.
4. Ohio State (4-0) – Yippie skippy, you've beaten the crap out of a bunch of scrub basketball teams on the way to a 4-0 start that you should've had. Color me not impressed with a team that is only seven deep at the most and is really centered on just two players – yes two very good players, but that's not enough to win the Big Ten championship.
5. Minnesota (6-1) – The Battle 4 Atlantis was a huge shot in the arm to the Gophers and this team could be very, very dangerous in the Big Ten. In fact this ranking could be too low when it's all said in done. Wins over ranked Memphis and an improving Stanford team are impressive and have me thinking of putting them higher depending on results this week.
6. Wisconsin (4-2) – Outside of Michigan State and Minnesota there isn't a team that's played a tougher non-conference schedule, unfortunately they haven't passed either of their two tests in losses to Florida and then this week to Creighton. What made me keep them in the top half was the fact that they played very well in the Creighton loss & they rebounded well in a win over a very tough matchup against Arkansas' pressure style. They need to win over UVa this week or see you later top half ranking.
7. Northwestern (6-0) – This team can play slow, fast, and they can do something they struggled to do last season – rebound. The addition of Jared Swoopshire has been huge for this team and they could be underranked at this point, but the fact remains they haven't played anybody. Sorry, TCU, your not a real major conference team yet, that'll take some time. Beat Maryland in the B1G/ACC Challenge and you'll earn more respect from me.
8. Illinois (7-0) – The Illini won the Maui Invitational and while that's an impressive feat it's not like they went through a murderers row of teams on their way to the title either. They took care of a meek USC, then got lucky with a meeting with DII Chaminade in the semi-finals. The only really impressive feat of the weekend was their W over Butler in the title game. I still need to see more than just effort from their guards.
9. Iowa (5-1) – Well, this team isn't scoring a bunch of points like some thought they would, however they aren't losing games because of it thanks to a stingy defense that hasn't allowed a single opponent to score more than 61 points in any of their victories. However, the problem for the Hawkeyes right now is that they didn't pass the smallest test they should've against Wichita State.
10. Nebraska (4-1) – This could be a bit too high as they did lose to Kent State this past weekend, but that Kent State team is vastly underrated in my book. However, they aren't as bad as they were a season ago and the tandem of Dylan Talley and Brandon Ubel they have a great foundation. Win over Wake Forest on the road this weekend and you'll really earn this spot.
11. Penn State (3-2) – If it weren't for Purdue this team would be dead last in my book. Penn State is going to struggle and struggle mightily without star Tim Frazier. D.J. Newbill needs to step into that scoring role at a much bigger level and losing to Akron this past week wasn't a good sign.
12. Purdue (2-3) – Speaking of not a good sign, this Purdue team isn't very good period. If they want to prove they are getting better they need to finally win a game against a decent opponent. They are 0-3 against teams that are even remotely good and only have wins against two bad CAA teams. Last week it was UNC-Wilmington and at least it was a beat down, but they don't deserve anything but the bottom spot until they can beat a major team at least once.