Staff writer Lee Barfknecht ranks the Big Ten men’s basketball teams. National ranking from NCAA.com.
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1. Indiana (20-2, 8-1, 11th): This week: at Illinois, at Ohio State. Wish I could have an “off” year like center Cody Zeller, who despite “struggling” is fourth in scoring (16.3), second in rebounding (8.3) and third in field-goal shooting (.596).
2. Michigan (20-2, 7-2, 7th): This week: Ohio State, at Wisconsin. Freshman Glenn Robinson III, as good as he is, isn’t immune from a humbling. In 40 minutes at Indiana, he scored two points and grabbed four rebounds. His averages: 12.1 and 5.8.
3. Michigan State (18-4, 7-2, 13th): This week: Minnesota, at Purdue Regardless of how good Indiana and Michigan are, don’t take your eye off the Spartans. They are as much a national No. 1 seed candidate as anyone in the Big Ten.
4. Ohio State (17-4, 7-2, 17th): This week: at Michigan, Indiana. How about those two games for a week’s work? The Buckeyes are 1-4 against ranked teams, but the one win was against Michigan in Columbus.
5. Wisconsin (15-7, 6-3, 41st): This week: Iowa, Michigan. Frank Kaminsky, a frontcourt reserve, had scored nine points in his five previous Big Ten games. On Sunday, he tossed in 19 points off the bench to help beat Illinois.
6. Minnesota (17-5, 5-4, 8th): This week: at Michigan State, Illinois. No surprise on how the Gophers broke a four-game losing skid — defense. Tubby Smith’s troops must guard hard and extend pressure to make full use of their athletic advantage.
7. Northwestern (13-10, 4-6, 86th): This week: at Iowa. Coach Bill Carmody told senior guard Reggie Hearn, who was slumping, to stop feeling sorry for himself and focus on the positives in his life. He responded with 26 points in a romp over Purdue.
8. Iowa (14-8, 3-6, 88th): This week: at Wisconsin, Northwestern. When leading scorer Devyn Marble (14.1) went scoreless in Sunday’s loss at Minnesota, questions arose about a possible injury. Not true, coach Fran McCaffery said Monday.
9. Purdue (11-11, 4-5, 135th): This week: at Penn State, Michigan State. The shell-shock from last week’s 37-point home loss to Indiana and 15-point road loss to Northwestern better wear off fast or Tuesday’s game at Penn State could be a trap.
10. Illinois (15-8, 2-7, 48th): This week: Indiana, at Minnesota. “Defensively, I thought we were atrocious last week,” coach John Groce said. “We are at a crossroads with our defense.” That’s why leading scorer Brandon Paul didn’t start Saturday.
11. Nebraska (11-12, 2-8, 85th): This week: Penn State. The Penn State game probably is the last time the Huskers will be favored this season. That doesn’t mean this is the last chance to win, but there won’t be any better opportunities.
12. Penn State (8-13, 0-9, 181st): This week: Purdue, at Nebraska. In 17 team statistical categories tracked by the Big Ten, the Nittany Lions are in the top half of the league in only one — sixth in free-throw percentage. They are last in eight categories.