The Gophers dropped to sixth in the latest Gold in the Barn power poll. Ohio State remains on top.
1. Ohio State – Dan Owen says, “A little scare there for one half against Iowa, and then they returned to their normal, dominating selves. This team has the talent (over and above what everyone else in the Big Ten has) to have a legitimate shot at 18-0.” My 2 Cents: They’ll get pushed like they were at Iowa but knowing that Jared Sullinger can change games at will keeps them on top of this poll.
2. Purdue – Lindsay Guentzel says, “The Boilermakers beat Northwestern and Michigan this week— two mediocre teams in the Big Ten. But the team has proven that they can play without Robbie Hummel in the lineup, which will help them throughout the season.” My 2 Cents: After the Hummel injury, I thought they’d be down. Didn’t realize how much chemistry they amassed after playing without him for a chunk of last season.
3. Illinois – Joshua Powers says, “The Illini are just shooting the lights out right now. I'd still like to see Demetri McCamey be more of a scorer, but it's hard to argue with 7.3 apg to go along with 16.3 points per night. All the outside shooting, however, has hurt their inside game. Mike Davis is really their only true scorer on the block, and he will need to be more of a presence down low at some point when the threes stop falling.” Damian Johnson adds, “Beat Wisconsin … looks like they are back on the right path.” My 2 Cents: This is the McCamey that so many have been waiting for. If he keeps playing like this, they might end up on top of the league in March.
4. Michigan State – Tom C says, “Not the team we were expecting...YET.” My 2 Cents: I don’t see the same fire from the last two Final Four teams. And the freshmen look lost at times. Team chemistry, or a lack thereof, could be a major problem for this squad down the stretch.
5. Wisconsin – Eric Johnston says, “I need to see more of this team. Seems to me they heavily rely on two players in Jon Leuer and Jordan Taylor. Shut them down, shut the whole team down.” My 2 Cents: Taylor has truly evolved into a complete point guard. But they are missing that third option. Still, if they don’t turn the ball over, they’ll compete with any team in this league.
6. Minnesota – Christopher Cramer says, “With the departure of Devoe Joseph, this looks like the second season in a row where the Gophs will not be able to live up to their potential. Must offset the loss of point production with increased defensive effort and efficacy. Gophers have been the worst team in the Big Ten against the spread in true road games over the past couple of seasons, so losses at Wisconsin and MSU are hardly surprising.” My 2 Cents: The Joseph loss is another major shakeup for this team. They can find other scorers, but it’s like they’re starting over again. Good thing they have Blake Hoffarber and Al Nolen, two vets who have been here before. Bad thing is that they’ve been here before and it didn’t go well.
7. Northwestern – Christopher Cramer says, "Tough, close losses at home such as their recent defeat at the hands of MSU are exactly the reason that Northwestern doesn't make the NCAA tourney. Bo Ryan's teams win those big games and always make the tourney while Wildcat teams always lose them and miss the tournament – it's not a coincidence.” My 2 Cents: Still don’t know who the Wildcats are yet. They lost to a pair of good teams in Michigan State and Purdue. Could see them in the NIT or getting some momentum and ending up in the Big Dance.
8. Michigan – Nathan Wickman says, “They looked awful against Purdue but recovered to pick up a nice win over Penn State.” My 2 Cents: There’s enough there to make midlevel teams like the Gophers and Wildcats worry about taking trips to Ann Arbor.
9. Penn State – Joshua Powers says, “After two encouraging road performances by the Nittany Lions to open Big Ten play, things start to get tough. PSU faces five ranked opponents in-a-row starting with Purdue Wednesday night. Talor Battle is up to his old tricks again, averaging 25.0 PPG in Big Ten play, but he tried to do too much down the stretch at Michigan and they got away from their offensive flow late.” My 2 Cents: Let’s see how they handle one of the toughest five-game stretches in Big Ten play (Purdue, MSU, Illinois, at Ohio State and at Purdue).
10. Indiana – Nadine Babu says, “Just thankful we played IU in the beginning of January, instead of in March. I look for this Hoosier team to keep on developing and getting better throughout the year … they could be a tournament team (just don't ask me if it's the NCAA or NIT).” My 2 Cents: I like this team. They fight for 40 minutes. But that’s not enough. Haven’t proven that they can win tough games. College basketball doesn’t keep an “almost” stat.
11. Iowa – Nadine Babu says, “Although their 1st half against Ohio State was impressive, they are still horrible.” My 2 Cents: They play well in desperate stretches. But you won’t win many Big Ten games when you’re always climbing out of a hole.