|Giving it all we've got, Cap'n|
As usual, we'll go from bottom to top. Like boilerdowd at a swingers convention.
12. Illinois -- The Illini are beyond a mess at this point. They're 1-9 in their last ten, Meyers Leonard is crying on the bench and complaining that people are mean to him on Twitter. This is a team that was ranked earlier in the year after a 10-0 start. Bruce Weber, a guy who took this program to the title game not so long ago, is lucky to still have a job, but won't for much longer.
11. Penn State -- They probably deserve to be higher in a BS power ranking since they crushed Purdue in Snappy Valley. However, the Nittany Kittens have shown little hiss otherwise, and get Purdue on the Boilers' Senior Night. Have fun with that.
10. Nebraska -- The newest members of the conference won our hearts with a win over IU but have otherwise not put up much of a fight in conference play.
9. Minnesota -- The Gophers have done what the Gophers do. They've hung around, beat some teams, gotten swept by Iowa and done just enough to not be completely overlooked at tourney time while also ensuring Tubby Smith still has a job. The bar is low in Minny.
8. Northwestern -- The dream of an NCAA tourney appearance took a serious hit last night as Northwestern - in true Wildcat fashion - found the banana peel against Michigan, blowing a seven point second half lead to lose a game at home that they had in their grasp. The Mildcats are now 16-11 (6-9) and have two road games (@ PSU and @ Iowa) in their final three, with the lone home date against OSU. Not looking good for the Cats to break the long string of tourney futility.
7. Iowa -- Our Most Hated Rival has quietly climbed back over .500 and with three winnable games in their four remaining has a chance at finishing at 17-14 (9-9), which I bet most Iowa fans would have signed up for (those who are literate enough to sign their own names, anyway). Fran has these guys playing hard and it shows.
6. Purdue -- Our Boilers are smack in the middle, much to Terry Hutchins' delight, as he predicted this before the season and we busted his balls for doing so. But the Boilers haven't done anything to earn a higher ranking than this from us. If the Boilers show some moxie and go 3-1 in their last four, they'll have shown everyone something and will finish at 10-8 in conference.
5. IU -- Despite still being a farce on the road, IU is a good team this year. They're 20-7 and can still hang their hats on the fact that they gave the #1 team in the nation their only loss. However, the Hoosiers won't be able to play BTT and NCAA tourney games in Ass Hall, so the ride will only go on so long.
4. Wisconsin -- Wisconsin does what Wisconsin does. Even with early season losses at home that stunned their fan base, the Badgers are still in the race for the conference and still ranked in the top 15 in the nation. Bo Ryan should get votes for Coach of the Year but I don't think he will. He's gotten everyone used to this. The next step in consistent Final Fours to get to the Izzo level.
3. Michigan -- The Wolverines have bared their teeth this season and not (yet) swooned to their typical late-season slide. They're 5-1 in their last six, including a big one over OSU and they're only a half game out of the conference lead with just three games to go, all of them winnable.
2. Michigan State -- The Spartans don't get the top spot from me despite being in first place by a half game, mainly because of a couple of weird losses, one to Northwestern and one to reeling Illinois. That game was a 42-41 loss, notable both for the fact that Purdue scored more than both teams combined against OSU and also for the fact that it might well be Bruce Weber's last win at Illinois.
1. Ohio State -- A scary-talented team, the Buckeyes could once again be a contender for the national title. Of course, with Thad Matta at the helm, they're more likely a Sweet 16/Elite 8 team that gets bounced by a higher seed. Yeah, I said it.