Staff writer Lee Barfknecht ranks the Big Ten men's basketball teams. National ranking from NCAA.com.
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1. Indiana (26-5, 14-4, 5th)
This week: Illinois-Minnesota winner on Friday. The Hoosiers’ 21st Big Ten title overall was the first secured outright in 20 years.
2. Ohio State (23-7, 13-5, 14th)
This week: Purdue-Nebraska winner on Friday. The Buckeyes are on a five-game winning streak and haven’t peaked yet.
3. Michigan State (24-7, 13-5, 8th)
This week: Iowa-Northwestern winner on Friday. Don’t overlook the Spartans as you fill out your brackets. A big run is possible.
4. Michigan (25-6, 12-6, 12th)
This week: Penn State on Thursday. The Wolverines were 17-0 at home before the Indiana loss. No Big Ten team finished spotless at home.
5. Wisconsin (21-10, 12-6, 42nd)
This week: Michigan-Penn State winner on Friday. The tie for fourth keeps alive Bo Ryan’s streak of finishing that high in each of his 12 years.
6. Illinois (21-11, 8-10, 43rd)
This week: Minnesota on Thursday. After a 2-7 start in the first half of the league, going 6-3 down the stretch has the Illini in the NCAA tourney.
7. Iowa (20-11, 9-9, 75th)
This week: Northwestern on Thursday. The Hawkeyes have a lot of talent, but seem to have too big a playing rotation to stay in rhythm.
8. Minnesota (20-11, 8-10, 24th)
This week: Illinois on Thursday. The Gophers have 11 wins over top-100 RPI teams along with a handful of head-scratching losses.
9. Purdue (15-16, 8-10, 116th)
This week: Nebraska on Thursday. It has been a choppy season, but the Boilermakers’ young players seem to have figured out some things lately.
10. Nebraska (14-17, 5-13, 103rd)
This week: Purdue on Thursday. Conference tourneys haven’t been kind to NU. The Huskers have won a game only three times in 12 years.
11. Penn State (10-20, 2-16, 182nd)
This week: Michigan on Thursday. The victory at Northwestern ended a 19-game road losing skid and a 17-gamer inside the league.
12. Northwestern (13-18, 4-14, 164th)
This week: Iowa on Thursday. The Wildcats are on an eight-game skid in which the margin of defeat has been 16.4 points.