Big Ten Week 17 Power Rankings

Big Ten Week 17 Power Rankings

​We are down to the final week of the conference season and there is a lot to play for. Minnesota and Nebraska are on the cusp for the NCAA tournament and need to finish strong to convince the committee they deserve a shot. The Big Ten was considered the best conference at the start of the season, but will they get a #1 seed? Read up on what each team has left to play for in the final week.

Power rankings:
1. Wisconsin (24-5/11-5) – Beat Indiana 69-58, Beat Penn State 71-66
**Projected NCAA Seed – #2
The Badgers continue to be the hottest team in the conference, and it couldn’t come at a better time. With the tournament right around the corner and two very winnable games this week Bucky is looking to lock up the #2 seed and cannot finish below #3. Bo Ryan’s streak of ranking in the top 4 will continue for another season. With the offense playing at an elite level this team can play with any team in the nation. They have an outside chance at a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament with two wins this week and a good conference tourney run.
2. Michigan (21-7/13-3) – Beat Purdue 77-76 in OT, Beat Minnesota 66-56
**Projected NCAA Seed – #3
The Wolverines continue to win and now control at least a share of the conference title. A win at Illinois or against Indiana will lock up the sole possession and the #1 seed in the conference tournament. A gritty win against Purdue this week, but that last second play could not have been how Coach B drew it up. A win is a win though and come tournament time that is all that matters. A number 1 seed is out of reach for this team, but they might be able to work into a 2 if they run through the tournament. This team has been surprising people all season, so why stop now!?
3. Michigan State (22-7/11-5) – Lost to Illinois 46-53
**Projected NCAA Seed – #5
The selection committee bases a lot of their seedings on the “What have you done for me lately” basis. This team is 4-6 in their last 10 games, and have two more tough games this week. Sparty has the chance to move up to a 3 or 4 seed if they can win out, but if they lose two more games this week against Iowa and Ohio State they could be looking at a 6. Within a couple weeks this team has scored 94 points against Purdue and 46 points against Illinois. The offense has been on and off too often and Gary Harris can’t do everything for this team.
4. Indiana (17-12/7-9) – Lost to Wisconsin 58-69, Beat Iowa 93-86, Beat Ohio State 72-64
**Projected NCAA Seed – NIT
Last week I talked about how tough this week would be for Indiana and they should take this week as a major win for them. They knocked off two ranked teams and hung with a third for most of the game. Another two tough games against Nebraska and at Michigan this week, but Indiana has a good chance to improve their tournament seed. Technically they are still alive to get a 1st round bye, but realistically a 5 or 6 seed if they can win both games this week. Will Sheehey had a tremendous game against Iowa this week scoring a career high 30 points in one of his final games at Assembly Hall.
5. Iowa (20-9/9-7) – Lost to Minnesota 89-95, Lost to Indiana 86-93, Beat Purdue 83-76
**Projected NCAA Seed – #6
The Hawkeyes are struggling to get commitment on the defensive end of the ball. They are scoring an extremely high number for Big Ten play, but giving up 95 and 93 points in back to back games is inexcusable. The up and down tempo favors their offense, but if their transition defense doesn’t improve the negative seems to outweigh the positive. Roy Marble has been keeping the foot on the gas pedal, but he can’t play defense on everyone on the floor. This team has the length to get this done, but it doesn’t matter how tall you are if quick guards are beating you down the floor. A game on the road against Michigan State will be tough, but this team needs some momentum heading into tournament play.
6. Nebraska (17-11/9-7) – Lost to Illinois 49-60, Beat Northwestern 54-47
**Projected NCAA Seed – #10
The Huskers are going to have to win a couple more games to convince the committee that they deserve a shot at the big dance. A win over Wisconsin this week would be a fantastic start. They have been tremendous at home this season, and for their home season finale it couldn’t be scripted much better. It doesn’t help though that Wisconsin and Indiana are coming in streaking and have a lot to play for as well. If they can limit the 3-point shot against these two teams they have a shot to run into the tournament after being picked to finish near or at the bottom of this conference.
7. Ohio State (22-8/9-8) – Lost to Penn State 63-65, Lost to Indiana 64-72
**Projected NCAA Seed – #7
After Buckeye fans were just starting to feel good about this team, they fall in consecutive games to unranked teams. With only one regular season game remaining, this team needs some momentum with a win over Michigan State at home. If they can play well in the tournament they have a chance to move up possibly to a 5 seed, but if they continue to shoot terribly from outside they aren’t going to last very long no matter their seed.
8. Minnesota (18-12/7-10) – Beat Iowa 95-89, Lost to Michigan 56-66
**Projected NCAA Seed – NIT
A much needed win against a quality opponent in Iowa, but the scoring fell off against Michigan later in the week. The Gophers are on their last leg, and need to convince the committee they are worth another look. The way they are playing right now is not going to be good enough. They need to win their game this week against Penn State and at least one win in the conference tournament. A couple wins would definitely help their cause. Nebraska streaking ahead of them in the conference doesn’t help their cause, but they still have a shot if enough at-large bids are available.
9. Illinois (17-12/6-10) – Beat Nebraska 60-49, Beat Michigan State 53-46
**Projected NCAA Seed – N/A
Momentum is finally back on the side of the Illini. A couple of very solid wins this week, but this offense has to improve if they want to win a conference tournament game. Shooting 37% isn’t going to get you many wins. The defense has been tremendous, but against elite teams the offense is going to have to be at least average. They play two ranked teams this week and this will provide a tough test, but if they can pull off one of the games it could greatly increase their conference seed. A couple conference tourney wins could get them an invite to the NIT, but that may be a stretch at this point of the season as well.
10. Purdue (15-14/5-11) – Lost to Michigan 76-77 in OT, Lost to Iowa 76-83
**Projected NCAA Seed – N/A
This team got kicked in the gut against Michigan and it carried over against Iowa later in the week. A fluke play that was so poorly defended cost them a chance to knock off their first ranked opponent of the season. AJ Hammons was very impressive and defensively the guards shut down Stauskas and LeVert for most of the game. But the final play summed up the Boilermakers season with an extremely gut wrenching ending.
11. Penn State (14-15/5-11) – Beat Ohio State 65-63, Lost to Wisconsin 66-71
**Projected NCAA Seed – N/A
A very nice win against Ohio State and they really gave Wisconsin a run for their money on Sunday. This team is still giving their best effort, but the talent just isn’t there to put a consistent product on the court every night. DJ Newbill had a great week and is so strong going to the basket. If he could develop a consistent outside shot he could really do some damage. Playing spoiler this week and minus a win in the conference tournament championship this team will have a disappointing end to the season once again.
12. Northwestern (12-17/5-11) – Lost to Nebraska 47-54
**Projected NCAA Seed – N/A
Just talking about the NCAA tournament and mentioning Northwestern seems so distant after this team is back to their early season losing trend. Losing to Nebraska isn’t as bad as it used to be, but continuing to score under 60 or even 50 points is downright discouraging. The state of Illinois has talent, but the in-state teams are having trouble keeping that talent in the state.

Team of the week: Back from the dead come the Fighting Illini. When your offense is struggling you can sit around and complain about it or you can just shift your attention to shutting down the other team. This tactic has worked tremendously the last four games as the Illini have held their last four opponents to under 50 points. This has translated into three straight wins including knocking off Michigan State on the road. They combined for 25 steals in the two games and are turning those turnovers into easy baskets. This is key for this team who struggles in the half-court. Their final two regular season games will be difficult as they have to face off with two of the best offenses in the conference, but neither team is playing their best ball so anything can happen.

Player of the week: Roy Devyn Marble finished the rare three game week with all three games above 20 points. Throw in 16 assists and 7 steals and you have a pretty good individual week. He also continued his impressive stretch of conference games in double figures to 16. Marble is pushing for Player of the Year honors and if he keeps up this play he may just pull that off.
-Other Top Performers: Will Sheehey (IND), DJ Newbill (PSU), Shavon Shields (NEB), Nik Stauskas (MICH), Austin Hollins (MINN)

Random stat of the week:Five teams are locks for the tourney, but with the right results playing out six seven or even eight teams could sneak into the dance. After losing eight games in a row earlier this season even to mention Illinois seems absurd, but with four wins it could put some pressure on the committee.

Matchup of next week: Iowa @ Michigan St
Other great matchups: Nebraska @ Indiana, Michigan St @ Ohio St, Wisconsin @ Nebraska

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