Published Monday, January 28, 2013 at 9:05 pm / Updated at 10:24 am
Barfknecht's Big Ten ratings, Jan. 29

Staff writer Lee Barfknecht ranks the Big Ten men's basketball teams. National ranking from

1. Michigan (19-1, 6-1, 6th RPI): This week: Northwestern, at Indiana. The fastest start in school history has produced the Wolverines' first No. 1 ranking in the polls since the Fab Five's second season (1992-93).

2. Indiana (18-2, 6-1, 16th): This week: at Purdue, Michigan. ESPN's College GameDay will be at IU on Saturday for the battle with Michigan, but the Hoosiers had better not overlook the road trip to much-improved Purdue.

3. Michigan State (17-4, 6-2, 12th): This week: Illinois. The six-game winning streak is over, but it came in “a good loss” at Indiana. The Spartans were a whisker away from the upset even with point guard Keith Appling limited to 19 minutes by foul trouble.

4. Ohio State (15-4, 5-2, 24th): This week: Wisconsin, at Nebraska. Junior guard Aaron Craft, subject of a lengthy feature in Sports Illustrated last week for his defensive prowess, has broken the school record for career steals with 209.

5. Wisconsin (14-6, 5-2, 47th): This week: at Ohio State, at Illinois. The Badgers are in the middle of the conference race and keeping NCAA hopes alive despite being last in the Big Ten and 330th nationally in free-throw shooting at 60.8 percent.

6. Purdue (11-9, 4-3, 106th): This week: Indiana, at Northwestern. The Boilermakers have won four of their past five with the only loss to now-No. 1 Michigan. In that game, Purdue led by one point at halftime.

7. Minnesota (15-5, 3-4, 11th): This week: Nebraska, Iowa. Good news for the Gophers on the injury front. Trevor Mbakwe, the league's leading rebounder, is cleared to play against Nebraska despite a sore wrist.

8. Illinois (15-6, 2-5, 33rd): This week: at Michigan State, Wisconsin. The results haven't been great lately for the Illini, but the fans are appreciative of the work under first-year coach John Groce. The school has sold out the past four home games.

9. Iowa (13-7, 2-5, 84th): This week: Penn State, at Minnesota. The Hawkeyes' freshman class has combined to make 53 starts this season. That's the most in the Big Ten and sixth nationally.

10. Northwestern (12-9, 3-5, 88th): This week: at Michigan, Purdue. Forward Jared Swopshire's 16 rebounds against Nebraska were the most by a Northwestern player in the past 13 years.

11. Nebraska (11-10, 2-6, 73rd): This week: at Minnesota, Ohio State. Kudos to the short-handed Huskers for winning the two games they have so far. Step one for any rebuilding program is beating the few teams you should knock off.

12. Penn State (8-12, 0-8, 179th): This week: at Iowa. The Nittany Lions haven't won since Dec. 29. The biggest reason? Poor shooting. Penn State is 324th nationally out of 345 teams in field-goal percentage.



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