Chart: Big Ten basketball at the midpoint

  • Updated: January 31, 2012 - 11:27 PM

A LOOK AROUND THE LEAGUE

Five Big Ten observations from beat writer Amelia Rayno:

1 Ohio State is the best. Halfway through the season, the fog finally has lifted -- somewhat -- and revealed what everyone thought they knew all along: The Buckeyes are the best team in the conference. Since losing to Illinois, the Buckeyes have won four consecutive games and have looked good doing it. The Big Ten's craziness masked it for a while, but you can't keep up with a team that has a roster like that for long.

2 The rest is kind of a mess. The Badgers, behind a more comfortable Jordan Taylor, are the second-best team -- for now -- having won five in a row. But move past that and things get hard to define. There still is a lower tier, but the murky middle leaves a lot to be sorted through. "There's about five of us, all in the same boat," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "Michigan, us, Illinois, Purdue, Indiana, Minnesota -- we're all like a coin flip every game."

3 You can't do well in the Big Ten without really solid defense. There might be an even bigger emphasis on that part of the game now than in recent years, Illinois coach Bruce Weber has suggested. This is the reason Iowa -- once in the mix -- has struggled lately. "Ultimately it comes down to a matter of toughness," said Iowa coach Fran McCaffery, a self-described offensive mind. "We don't have the toughness that's necessary to defend in this league."

4 Indiana is a good team, but not a great one. After the Hoosiers lost to Minnesota on their home court, they lost three of their next four games before getting back to .500 in the league. There were some good teams in that stretch, but to lose all of those games is suspect. The Hoosiers are NCAA tournament-quality, but they're hardly elite.

5 Watch out for Nebraska. The Huskers played punching bag for much of the first half of league play, but they weren't at full strength and they were still getting adjusted to the Big Ten. Now they're getting healthy and looking a lot stronger with victories in recent weeks against Indiana and at Iowa. Teams that played the Huskers early on -- while they were figuring things out -- could be the lucky ones.

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Cleveland 86 FINAL
Indiana 93
Washington 81 FINAL
Philadelphia 89
Golden State 113 FINAL
Toronto 89
New York 121 FINAL
Detroit 115
Orlando 88 FINAL
Atlanta 95
Charlotte 98 FINAL
Boston 106
LA Clippers 97 FINAL
Memphis 79
Brooklyn 98 FINAL
Houston 102
Miami 102 FINAL
New Orleans 104
Minnesota 89 FINAL
Chicago 96
Utah 104 FINAL
Denver 82
San Antonio 107 FINAL
Sacramento 96
Milwaukee 93 FINAL
LA Lakers 101
Oklahoma City 112 FINAL
Portland 115
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
New Jersey 2
Calgary 1 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Washington 0 FINAL
Carolina 3
Chicago 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay 4
Colorado 5 FINAL(SO)
Dallas 4
Los Angeles 2 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Siena 63 FINAL
Quinnipiac 73
Harvard 49 FINAL
Cornell 57
Penn 69 FINAL
Brown 75
Fairfield 65 FINAL
Canisius 72
Manhattan 75 FINAL
Iona 79
Saint Peters 67 FINAL
Marist 69
Princeton 60 FINAL
Yale 81
Ohio 58 FINAL
Akron 70
Dartmouth 84 FINAL
Columbia 71
Valparaiso 56 FINAL
Cleveland State 53
Louisiana Tech 75 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 88
Seton Hall 77 FINAL
Xavier 60
Cornell 54 FINAL
Harvard 60
Yale 49 FINAL
(14) Princeton 67
Elon 51 FINAL
Drexel 54
Northeastern 47 FINAL
James Madison 82
St Johns 60 FINAL
Butler 49
Creighton 71 FINAL
Georgetown 62
Brown 58 FINAL
Penn 75
Columbia 50 FINAL
Dartmouth 60
Canisius 54 FINAL
Siena 58
St Josephs Brooklyn 35 FINAL
NJIT 78
Western Carolina 86 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 80
Colorado 66 FINAL
Arizona 51
Southern Ill 72 FINAL
Bradley 66
Drake 59 FINAL
Wichita State 80
Indiana State 71 FINAL
Evansville 53
Illinois State 53 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 67
Northern Iowa 70 FINAL
Missouri State 72
Utah 42 FINAL
(10) Arizona State 46
Providence 62 FINAL
Villanova 71
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