The Big Ten’s best
1. Indiana (10-2): The Hoosiers, led by the talented trio of Thomas Bryant, James Blackmon Jr. and OG Anunoby, had the best nonconference victory by the Big Ten when they beat Kansas in Hawaii on Nov. 11; they also play Louisville on Saturday.
2. Wisconsin (11-2): Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig have Final Four experience, but will their senior leadership be enough to carry the Badgers to their second regular-season Big Ten title in three years.
3. Purdue (11-2): Caleb Swanigan (18.3 points, 12.5 rebounds per game) is front-runner for Big Ten Player of the Year with two games with at least 20 points and 20 rebounds, including a 32-point, 20-rebound outing vs. Norfolk State.
4. Michigan (10-3): Wolverines coach John Beilein relies on a strong perimeter tandem, led by seniors Derrick Walton Jr. and Zak Irvin.
5. Maryland (12-1): The Terrapins will go as far as Melo Trimble can take them, and the 6-3 junior guard is having a career season offensively at 18 points per game.
6. Illinois (10-3): Malcolm Hill has scored 40 points in a game this year, but Tracy Abrams and Jalen Coleman-Lands are showing the Illini aren’t a one-man team.
7. Minnesota (12-1): The Gophers, already with four more victories they had than last season, will contend for their first NCAA tournament since 2013. Nate Mason and Jordan Murphy return after strong Big Ten seasons, and Amir Coffey and Reggie Lynch lead a group of impact newcomers.
8. Northwestern (11-2): Fourth-year Wildcats coach Chris Collins has a team that could make a run at the program’s long-awaited first NCAA tournament berth, because of the emergence of Scottie Lindsey and Vic Law.
9. Michigan State (8-5): The Spartans are off to their worst start ever under Tom Izzo, but don’t count out the Hall of Fame coach, especially if talented freshman Miles Bridges comes back healthy soon.