Monday, January 19, 2009

Big Ten Power Poll 2009, Week 3

1. Michigan State (5-0)
Izzo's team is just continuing to win, despite a relatively narrow escape at home vs. Illinois and a close call at Penn State. The Spartans keep notching victories, which is what champions do. I'll mention how much better this team since getting Suton back and how deep this club is, but I think it's most noteworthy to Marquise Gray finally excelling. His outstanding performance against Illinois was almost certainly the difference in the game.

2. Illinois (3-2)
Actually, a narrow loss at Michigan State may be the serving of a notice to the rest of the conference that Illinois is a real title threat in the Big Ten this year. The Illini handily avenged their loss to Michigan, and only lost at MSU because their shooters (Meachem & McCamey) went cold- although I'm sure the Sparty defense had a little to do with that.

3. Minnesota (4-2)
I've been something of a skeptic of this club, despite its ranking, and last week did nothing to dispel any questions. The Gophers go and beat Wisconsin on the road in OT, and then lose at Northwestern. How good is a win at Wisconsin? Very good indeed, but how bad is a loss to Northwestern? For now, I'm guessing not that bad.

4. Wisconsin (3-2)
It's only one game, but the badgers lost in OT at home to Minnesota. I do still think this is a tough, well-balanced team, but I honestly expected a little more out of Joe Krabbenhoft in his senior year. I think that unlike the last few years, this UW club just looks beatable, which is a dangerous thing. If Krabbenhoft steps up and leads a little more by example on defense, the Badgers could get some of that swagger back.

5. Purdue (3-2)
The squeaker at Northwestern won't restore anyone's confidence, but the blowout win over Iowa should help boost the shooters (Grant, Moore) that the Boilers need to contend for the title. This week may hold the Boilers' ultimate destiny with road games at Minnesota & Wisconsin. If they can get both of these, Purdue is back, if neither, they're in trouble.

6. Ohio State (3-2)
Great week for OSU with a blowout win over Indiana, and then with their confidence back they go on the road and hold off a furious rally at Michigan. Nicola Kecman, after a nice debut vs. Houston Baptist, didn't play in either win, and David Lighty still isn't back, so the really good news is that the Buckeyes are figuring out how to win with the troops they have.

7. Penn State (3-3)
Actually, these Nittany Lions are looking like they are quite a bit better than last season's incarnation, but they've never had a guy like Talor Battle before. When Battle waved everyone off and swished a 25-footer at the shot-clock buzzer with a hand in his face to quell a second-half surge by the Hoosiers, that was confidence I'd never seen from PSU player before. And Stanley "lotion salesman" Pringle may actually be even more impressive in conference games so far, but I'll have to crunch the numbers on that in a couple more games. Still, challenging MSU, even in a home loss, is probably more impressive than a win at Bloomington this season.

8. Michigan (3-3)
Bad week. Michigan now looks like the weakest of the contenders after getting thumped by Illinois and losing at home to Ohio State. It's a good thing they've got those wins over UCLA & Duke in their back pocket, because that makes the Wolverines probably the only club that could finish 7th in the conference standings and get a NCAA tourney bid.

9. Northwestern (1-4)
A win! Just when I was starting to doubt whether the Mildcats really were better than last year, they get their first win over a ranked team. This week looks to be a little rough with two games road games in Michigan, but the schedule lightens up after that.

10. Iowa (1-4)
The chances of getting to any postseason are rapidly diminishing for the Hawkeyes. If Tate comes back fully ready to go by the end of the week and Iowa starts defending its homecourt, then they might be able to squeak into the NIT or CBI. And while we shouldn't get down on any conference club for two road losses, the Hawkeyes just seem a little less competitive then they were earlier this year.

11. Indiana (0-5)
The good news: the Hoosiers are more competitive at home and now have a favorable stretch in which they can notch their first conference win. The bad news: This just isn't that good of a team. There are some freshmen pieces here (Pritch, Williams, Jones) but not enough to stay tough against ten other conference teams all looking to get to the postseason.


Post a Comment

<< Home