Introducing our newest weekly column at WNUR Sports: Miller’s Big Ten Minute, where Austin Miller takes you around the Big Ten men’s basketball scene.
Nothing says college basketball quite like Directional A&M Tech taking on your favorite B1G school in front of a half-empty student section, am I right? Regardless, college basketball is back!! This will be your weekly look around the Big Ten, always with an eye toward that fateful day in March Northwestern fans know little about: Selection Sunday. Here’s how things will work: Each week we’ll go around the Big Ten, and I’ll give you one win to be proud of (the best resume building win of the week if you will), one loss to be ashamed of (the worst loss of the week resume-wise; note this section may heavily feature Illinois this season), and then one sentence on every team in the conference as part of my weekly power rankings. With that said, let’s get right to it:
One to be Proud Of: Michigan State: 79 Kansas: 73
A lot of B1G teams take this week to play a lot of nobodies. Give Michigan State credit for being willing to play a team like Kansas, and then for beating them. At no point this season will Michigan State be on the bubble or anywhere close to it, but this is a really good win that could help the Spartans bump up a seed or two come selection Sunday.
One to be Ashamed Of: Western Illinois: 69 Wisconsin: 67
When Illinois went down in embarrassing fashion, I thought that would easily be the worst loss of the week. Boy was I wrong. North Florida is a good team that made the tournament last season and should have a good shot at doing so again this year. Western Illinois, on the other hand, is most assuredly not. The Leathernecks were 8-20 last year, and while Wisconsin lost some personnel, the Badgers were clearly favored in this one. It’s a bad loss, and while there’s plenty of time for Wisconsin to make up for it with a daunting B1G schedule, this one won’t look pretty come March.
B1G Power Rankings, One Sentence Style:
1. Maryland: A hard-fought win over rival Georgetown at home and the best talent in the conference puts this team number one to start things off.
2. Michigan State: They’ve got the best win of anyone in the conference, and Denzel Valentine is a monster.
3. Purdue: AJ Hammons and Isaac Haas are legitimately terrifying down low, and the non-conference schedule could set up the Boilers could be unbeaten entering B1G play.
4. Indiana: For all the controversy surrounding the program, this is still a good basketball team that should finish the season in the top five-ish of the conference. #FireTomCrean though, right?
5. Michigan: They’re the fifth B1G team in the national rankings, and they’re the fifth team in the power rankings: good but not great.
6. Ohio State: This team is really young, and might struggle early in the season, but they’re most assuredly a tournament team.
7. Northwestern: Well well, being undefeated to start the season has benefits, huh?
8. Penn State: The Lions will win a game or two they shouldn’t, and will beat Northwestern in Happy Valley because that’s what always happens.
9. Nebraska: The Huskers got POUNDED by Villanova, and probably aren’t good, but there are B1G teams with much worse losses.
10. Minnesota: A close loss to Temple is tough to swallow, but hey, at least Joey King can do that yo-yo dribble so hard you’ll cry.
11. Wisconsin: While the Western Illinois loss will be an outlier, it’s still not a good loss.
12. Iowa: I don’t care that they’re 2-0, they lost to Augustana in the exhibition season which banishes them to 12th for at least the opening week.
13. Illinois: Losing to North Florida, getting beat by Providence and almost losing to North Dakota State is a bad way to start the season.
14. Rutgers: Their victory over Rutgers-Newark confirmed them as the best Rutgers and really, that’s all that matters.