Welcome to the OTB Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings, something I will feature weekly. Now that we are ten days into the college basketball season, it is time for the first edition. The Big Ten has taken it's lumps so far, with conference losses to Western Illinois, University of Texas - Arlington, North Florida and Duquense. Quality wins for the conference include Kansas, Florida, and Georgetown. Let's take a look at how each conference team has started the season.
1) Michigan State 3-0
Beat Florida Atlantic, Kansas, AR Pine Bluff
Upcoming: Eastern Michigan; Boston College
Michigan State knocked off Kansas last week and are now ranked #3 in the country. Denzel Valentine had 29 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists against the Jayhawks, earning him B1G Player of the Week honors. Tom Izzo will be a tough out come March.
2) Purdue 5-0
Beat North Carolina A&T, Vermont, Incarnate Word, Old Dominion, Florida
Purdue topped Florida on Sunday for the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Championship and have a stacked lineup, led by A.J. Hammons and freshman sensation Caleb Swanigan. They have six scorers averaging in double figures and as a team are shooting 51% from the field, including 42% from three-point range.
3) Maryland 3-0
Last Week: Beat Mount St. Mary's, Georgetown, Rider
Upcoming: Illinois State; Cleveland State
Maryland was losing to Georgetown most of the game but were able to pull it out at the end. They also struggled in a 65-58 win over Rider. They probably have the most talent in the league, led by POY candidate Melo Trimble, but they need to develop better chemistry. Plenty of time to do that for the preseason conference favorite.
4) Indiana 3-0
Beat Eastern Illinois, Austin Peay, Creighton
Upcoming: Wake Forest
Indiana has looked solid so far, easily taking care of Creighton by 21 points at home. Senior guard Yogi Ferrell is the active scoring and assist leader for the Big Ten conference. Sophomore James Blackmon Jr. leads the team with 19 points per game.
5) Iowa 3-0
Beat Gardner-Webb, Coppin State, Marquette
Iowa was impressive in beating Marquette by 28 points and have a seven scorers averaging 8 points or more a game. As a team they have assisted on 71 out of 100 field goals made, a very high average. Senior guard Mike Gesell is off to a great start, averaging 6 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 steals per game. Dayton will provide a big test for the Hawkeyes.
6) Michigan 2-1
Beat Northern Michigan & Elon
Lost to Xavier
Michigan lost to a good Xavier team, getting exposed in the interior. There is a lot of hope that Michigan can rebound after last season's disappointment. The return of Caris LaVert is the biggest reason why. They have a chance to pickup their first quality win of the season against UCONN this week.
7) Northwestern 3-0
Beat UMass Lowell, Fairfield, Columbia
Upcoming: North Carolina; New Orleans
Northwestern needed overtime to get past Columbia and have the pleasure of facing North Carolina, fresh off their upset loss to Northern Iowa. Many think this is finally the year that Northwestern makes the NCAA tournament for the first time in their history. Other than their upcoming game tonight against the Tarheels, it's cupcake city until the Big Ten schedule tips off. Bryant McIntosh leads the team with 21 points and 6 assists a game.
8) Wisconsin 3-2
Beat Siena, North Dakota, VCU
Lost to Western Illinois & Georgetown
Upcoming: Prairie View A&M; Oklahoma
I felt Wisconsin was overrated coming into the season, picked to finish 4th in the conference by most publications. Yes, they have Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig back from last season's final four team, but behind them are a bunch of unproven players. The loss to Western Illinois made that clear on the opening night of the season. They did just beat a quality VCU team after stumbling to Georgetown. They will look for a big win against Oklahoma this week.
9) Minnesota 3-2
Beat UMKC, Louisiana-Monroe, Missouri State
Lost to Temple & Texas Tech
Minnesota has beaten no one special and could be in for a big fall this season. They don't have a lot of depth and are just shooting 42% from the field as a team. They also have more turnovers than assists as team so far. They should be able to accumulate more wins in the non-conference slate, as the only power 5 schools they have left are Clemson and Oklahoma State.
10) Ohio State 2-1
Beat Mount St. Mary's, Grambling
Lost to University of Texas - Arlington
Upcoming: Louisiana Tech; Memphis
Ohio State is a young team and showed that in a bad loss to UTA. They have been sloppy, averaging 16 turnovers a game to just 12 assists as a team. They are also a bad free throw shooting team through three games, shooting just 57%. JaQuan Lyle is a big addition this season and needs to play to his potential for the Buckeyes to have a big season. Virginia awaits the following week.
11) Nebraska 2-1
Beat Missouri Valley State, Delaware State, Southeastern Lousiana
Lost to Villanova
Upcoming: Arkansas-Pine Bluff; Cincinnati
Nebraska hung with Villanova for the first half before the wheels came off in the second half. Cincinnati is the next test for the Cornhuskers and head coach Tim Miles. Kansas Transfer Andrew White leads the team in scoring with 16 points a game.
12) Illinois 1-3
Beat North Dakota State
Lost to North Florida, Providence & Chattanooga
Upcoming: Chicago State; UAB
Illinois has been wiped out with injuries as starting guards Tracy Abrams and Jaylon Tate are both out. Abrams is lost for the season and Tate is out a few weeks. LaSalle transfer Khalid Lewis has been thrown in the mix more than expected and struggled. Head coach John Groce is firmly on the hot seat as this season already has his team in crisis mode.
13) Rutgers 3-1
Beat RU-Newark, Howard, Central Arkansas
Lost to St. John's
Upcoming: Creighton; Clemson/UMass
Rutgers is a couple plays away from being 4-0, but hopefully the heartbreaking loss to the Johnnies will have real value as the season plays out. Featuring a combined six freshman and sophomores combined in the nine man rotation, hopefully this team learned something from that tough loss. Big test in Vegas as they finish a four game in seven days stretch.
14) Penn State 2-1
Beat VMI, DePaul
Lost to Duquense
Upcoming: Radford; Bucknell
I put Penn State behind Rutgers due to their 26 point loss to Duquense, a worse loss than a one possession defeat to St. John's. Penn State had a solid recruiting class and is a very young team as well. They do have Boston College and George Washington on the non-conference schedule before conference play begins. They only have three players that average over 7 points a game scoring.