Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Big Ten Power Poll 2009, Week 1

1. Michigan State (2-0)
Two road games, two wins. One has to think that MSU has the inside track to a conference championship, but it's still very early. I've been impressed with the composure that this extremely athletic club exhibits, as long as they have a healthy Suton on the floor.

2. Wisconsin (2-0)
Never, ever count out the Badgers under Bo Ryan. However, teams 2-7 are all bunched in one strata, in my mind. Wisconsin deserves the "first among equals" status, not just for being one of two undefeated teams two games into conference play, but also for the nice win at Ann Arbor.

3. Illinois (1-1)
Illinois got a nice win that few others will get this season, a surprise victory at Mackey Arena. While it's hard to fault them for coming away from two road games with a split, you definitely can't put them above UW, who won where the Illini didn't.

4. Purdue (0-1)
This is probably the lowest that Boilers will get in the power rankings, barring a real let-down. I'm confident in Painter's squad bouncing back. However, I will say that this club is struggling forward, rather than taking another quantum jump like we saw happen last year.

5. Minnesota (1-1)
The Golden Gophers are still something of a mystery: sure, they lost at home to MSU, but that might prove to be a pretty common experience for conference teams; and they held serve at home vs. Ohio State, but OSU was probably at a low point in terms of personnel available. No worries, tho', because by the end of January we should know plenty about Tubby's team.

6. Michigan (1-1)
They couldn't beat Wisconsin at home, but they did snap back with a good win over Illinois. If the Wolverines can stay above .500 in conference play, they've got a good shot at the NCAA tourney, but they can't lose many more home games if that's the goal.

7. Ohio State (1-1)
They've lost David Lighty for at least the month of January, Anthony Crater transferred (but honestly won't be missed- PJ Hill seems to be picking up the slack just fine), and forward/center Kecman is now available. The latest word is not to expect Kecman to provide much more than Terwiliger used to, but even that'll help. The Buckeyes aren't looking like a conference title contender, but they aren't out of the running for an NCAA bid.

8. Penn State (1-1)
Was it PSU looking tough at Wisconsin, or was it just Wisconsin not putting away an inferior team? The Nittany Lions have done a pretty good job challenging at the end of games, which helped them avoid a home loss to Northwestern. Still, I'm not sure they should be this up this high- Northwestern may well prove to be the better team.

9. Northwestern (0-2)
The above caveat aside, NU's off to another bad start. You can't heap too much blame on Carmody for getting a loss on the road and a home loss to Michigan State, but the Wildcats have got to start winning conference games. It doesn't get any easier with a game at Wisconsin and home match vs. Purdue up next on the docket.

10. Iowa (1-1)
The Hawkeyes wasted an incredible three-point shooting display at OSU, going 14-28 from beyond the arc while getting few points otherwise in a narrow loss. The home game against Indiana couldn't have been reassuring to the Hawkeye faithful either. I don't know how much having Anthony Tucker will help, but it's got to help some. However, there's something funny going on between Tucker & Coach Lickliter, because Tucker's PT has gotten real funny. This is often what player stats look like right before a transfer is announced.

11. Indiana (0-1)
I've said plenty about Indiana. I suppose one could make an argument that in conference play, Indiana only has one narrow loss as opposed to Northwestern's multiple losses and therefore shouldn't be in last place, but who would I be fooling? Probably just myself. Nick Williams' play at Iowa was a nice surprise, tho, hopefully that continues.


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