Monday, February 02, 2009

Big Ten Power Poll 2009, Week 5

1. Michigan State (7-2)
On the one hand, I'd like to throw out the NU & PSU home losses as aberrations, and just think of them as games where MSU lost its focus. But this Sparty club is starting to look a little like the old Loyola Marymount teams- sure they can score, but can they stop anyone? I don't know, Izzo's got the "Izzo depth," maybe he should try running a bit more and wear the other team down. That used to be my playground strategy: if you can't stop 'em, wear 'em out.

2. Purdue (6-2)
Well, look who's back again, making themselves relevant and scary in the conference race! The Boilers have to survive road trips to Ohio State and Illinois this week, but if they do, they might just able to slip into first place in the conference again. Getting that win at Wisconsin was huge, but maybe there's just something about that place that Hummel just really likes. His late threes were the dagger late in that game, and he had zero hesitation in shooting them.

3. Minnesota (6-3)
Getting that convincing over Illinois has seemingly jumbled up the Big Ten race but good. But to me, I think it's clarified that most of us fan-bloggers were correct at the start of the season; really it's MSU & Purdue for the title and everyone else but Indiana is scraping around for a post-season bid. But holding Illinois to 36 points is most impressive.

4. Illinois (6-3)
The Illini had a lock on the #2 spot, and given MSU's home to loss to PSU, looked like they were going to be able to maybe grab a piece of the conference title. But the stinking-it-up at Minnesota was not redeemed with a narrow home win over Iowa.

5. Ohio State (5-4)

The Buckeyes still haven't convinced me they belong in the NCAA tourney, but their chances look 50-50. If they can defend their homecourt, Matta's crew should be a solid bet- especially if they get David Lighty back anytime soon.

6. Penn State (6-3)
The great win at Michigan State has now given the Lions the kind of marquee win that the NCAA selection committee really likes. The next three games (@Mich, v.Wis., @Pur.) should illuminate the bubble question: anything less than 2-1 means PSU are firmly on it.

7. Michigan (4-6)

It's not really fair to expect the Wolverines to go on the road and win at OSU and Purdue, but how long can this team cling to the wins over UCLA and Duke? I'm guessing this is a club on the way down, but hey- with Manny Harris- who knows?

8. Northwestern (4-5)
The Wildcats have bounced back nicely after the 0-4 start. Still, close home wins over Indiana and Wisconsin could've gone either way. This isn't the most intimidating club, but at least they're headed the right way.

9. Wisconsin (3-6)
What is happening? I really expected more out of Landry, Krabbenhoft, and Hughes. But maybe it's just a stretch of really, really bad luck. Hey, after the breaks the Badgers got in Bo Ryan's first season (for me, the win at IU crosses my mind), perhaps it is just the karma evening out.

10. Iowa (2-7)

The Hawkeyes could really use Cyrus Tate back right about now, as their chances for a winning season are slowly leaking away. Of course, I'm hoping he comes back right *after* the IU game. The Hawkeyes could also use a good scoring point guard, but still, Jeff Peterson's still better than anyone the Hoosiers have at that spot.

11. Indiana (0-8)

The good news is that the Hoosier offense has finally woken up, and Matt Roth's record-tying 9 threes were beautiful to behold. The bad news is that IU is running out of its best chances to get a pressure-releasing first conference win. Iowa at home will be their best chance yet.


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