World-Herald staff writer Lee Barfknecht ranks the Big Ten men’s basketball teams. RPI from RPIratings.com
1. Michigan State (21-5, 10-3, 18th)
This week: at Purdue, at Michigan. The Spartans held a players-only meeting Monday, the day after losing at home to Nebraska. I wouldn’t want to be the next foe (Purdue).
2. Michigan (18-7, 10-3, 16th)
This week: Michigan State. The Wolverines are in the top 10 nationally in fewest fouls (first, 14.6); free-throw shooting (seventh, 76.5 percent); and fewest turnovers (eighth, 9.8). Key numbers to build a winner.
3. Iowa (19-6, 8-4, 24th)
This week: at Indiana, Wisconsin. After falling three games out of the league lead, the Hawkeyes are back within a game and a half. So this remains a three-team race.
4. Wisconsin (21-5, 8-5, 6th)
This week: at Iowa. The Badgers have the longest current winning streak in the league (four). After winning at Michigan, Wisconsin has the most victories over Top 25 foes in the country (6-2).
5. Ohio State (20-6, 7-6, 15th)
This week: Northwestern, Minnesota. The Buckeyes are 4-1 in February, and from the looks of the schedule, will exit the month 7-1.
6. Nebraska (14-10, 6-6, 53rd)
This week: Penn State, Purdue. Entering the Michigan State game, the Spartans had better marks than the Huskers in nine of 10 major statistical categories. The only one Nebraska led in: free-throw shooting.
7. Minnesota (17-9, 6-7, 33rd)
This week: Illinois, at Ohio State. After Illinois, the Gophers play three Top 25 teams in a row, a stretch that could very well determine their postseason fate.
8. Purdue (15-10, 5-7, 108th)
This week: Michigan State, at Nebraska. The schedule does not set up well for the Boilermakers down the stretch. The next five: No. 13 MSU, at Nebraska, No. 20 Michigan, at No. 15 Iowa, at No. 16 Wisconsin.
9. Northwestern (12-14, 5-8, 104th)
This week: at Ohio State, Indiana. The Wildcats have lost three in a row, and the question has to be asked about whether this gutty little group is about out of gas.
10. Indiana (14-11, 4-8, 102nd)
This week: Iowa, at Northwestern. Forget worrying about the NCAA tournament. The Hoosiers are quickly playing themselves out of NIT consideration, too.
11. Penn State (13-13, 4-9, 112th)
This week: at Nebraska. This is the second time the Nittany Lions have had only Nebraska to focus on for a whole week. It worked the first time for PSU with a 58-54 win.
12. Illinois (14-12, 3-10, 91st)
This week: at Minnesota. Hard to imagine a power-conference school with an offense this screwed up. The Illini only got to 39 points at home against Ohio State, and are at 55.8 the past 10 games.