#1. Illinois (3-0) (E)
Close call for the Illini in their latest contest. After back to back 60 point blowouts, Illinois crashed back down to Earth and almost got stunned by the Ohio Bobcats. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that that game says more about Ohio being a good team than Illinois not being as good as we think, but time will tell. The most important thing for the Illini is that they won and Ayo Dosunmu looks unstoppable! Adam Miller was a nice surprise too as the freshman averaged 18 points a game in the first three games. I still think this is the team to beat in the Big 10. We will learn very quickly where the Illini stand among the country’s elite as they take on #2 Baylor in the Jimmy V classic on Wednesday night.
#2. Iowa (2-0) (E)
Iowa dominated in their two performances last week so much so I was really torn about moving them past Illinois up to number 1. The only thing holding me back is that those 2 blowout wins were against 2 cupcakes.
Two certainties about Iowa are: they will have a top 10 offense all year (they averaged 100 points between the 2 games) and that Luka Garza should easily be the front runner for player of the year. He averaged 33.5 points and 9.5 rebounds last week, including putting up 36 points in the first half against Southern! Another easy contest for the Hawkeyes as they take on the Leathernecks of Western Illinois in their only matchup of the week.
#3. Wisconsin (2-0) (E)
The Badgers won both of their games in 2 very different fashions. They let Eastern Illinois get a little closer than they should have at the end of the game, but then absolutely pummeled Arkansas Pine Bluff winning by 46 points. The Badgers have been paced by Nate Reuvers, Micah Potter, and D’mitrk Trice who are the three leader long scorers for Wisconsin as well as lead the team in points, rebounds and assists per game respectively. The Badgers take on in state rivals Green Bay on Tuesday before driving East down I-94 to Milwaukee to take on Marquette.
#4. Michigan State (2-0) (E)
MSU might have had the most impressive victory of the week in the league. After easily handily Eastern Michigan, the Spartans dominated the Fighting Irish. Even though they ended up only winning by 10, I watched this game and the outcome was never in doubt; Sparty controlled the game the entire way. One star that I saw that really impressed me from the Spartans: In Michigan State’s first two games, they had 53 assists on 60 total made field goals (shoutout to my co- college basketball writer Quinn Pezoldt for that one). Two easy contests at the end of the week for MSU but first a clash with fellow blue blood Duke on Tuesday. Circle your calendars for that one!
#5. Rutgers (3-0) (+1)
Even though the competition wasn’t the strongest, the Scarlet Knights did their Preseason top 25 ranking proud with three victories in three games, including the last one over an above average Hofstra team. Ron Harper Jr did his job as the team’s best player averaging 21.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists. No action for Rutgers this week as they get extra time to prepare for their Big 10/ACC matchup vs Syracuse.
#6. Ohio State (2-0) (-1)
Not the most impressive week for top 25 ranked Ohio State, after blowing the doors off of Illinois State earlier in the week, the Buckeyes had a too close for comfort win against Massachusetts Lowell, a team that KenPom had ranked at #275 last year. The important thing for the Buckeyes though is that they did win it. Ohio State has two more tune up games this week (vs Moorhead State and Alabama A&M) before the real competition starts the following week, beginning with the Big 10/ACC challenge vs Notre Dame.
#7. Indiana (1-0) (E)
IU only had one game and they did what they needed to do: destroy a grossly inferior opponent. The Hoosiers were led by their 2nd team All American selection Trayce Jackson-Davis, who produced a double double with 26 points and 11 rebounds. The competition heats up for Indiana as they head West to Hawaii this week for the Maui invitational. They begin play Monday against Providence.
#8. Purdue (1-1) (E)
The only other team other than Nebraska to drop a game last week, Purdue fell in the Space Coast championship game to Clemson. In fairness to the Boilermakers, they easily had the hardest schedule of any Big 10 team. Purdue beat a good Liberty team in the first game before getting beaten down defensively by a tenacious Clemson defense. The Biggest star and surprise from Purdue was the arrival of Zach Edey. Edey averaged 18 PPG and 6.5 RPG. Two winnable games for the Boilers this week as they welcome Oakland and Valpo to town.
#9. Michigan (2-0) (E)
I was not overly impressed with Michigan last week. They did beat a bad Bowling Green team pretty handily, but then they went out and almost lost to a winless Oakland team, needing overtime to seal the victory at home. That win also included tempers flaring between Isaiah Livers and Coach Juwan Howard. That is never a good sign if your coach and best player are arguing. Thankfully for the Wolverines they have two more easy games this week to figure things out: home vs Ball State and Central Florida.
#10. Maryland (3-0) (E)
Three Games for Maryland last week and they walked away with 3 wins, as the Terps took down Old Dominion, Navy, and Mt St. Mary’s. The biggest star of the week for Maryland was Eric Ayala. He led the team with 16.3 PPG, 3.3 RPG, and 3.7 APG. This week Maryland should pick up 2 more wins this week with Towson and George Mason coming to College Park.
#11. Penn State (1-0) (E)
Only one game for Penn State last week after their game with Drexel got postponed. On Saturday Penn State easily defeated VMI by 21 points. Good team efforts from the Nittany Lions in this one as 5 players reached double figures. The competition really kicks up a notch for PSU this week as they take on VCU followed by Seton Hall. Both of these games are in Happy Valley and will be a good barometer for where the Nittany Lions stand in the post Pat Chambers/Lamar Stevens Era.
#12. Minnesota (2-0) (E)
The Golden Gophers took care of business last week, easily dispatching Green Bay and Loyola Marymount. The biggest story for the Gophers was the play of Marcus Carr. Between the 2 games, Carr averaged 31.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG, and 6.0 APG. Two more tune up games for Minnesota this week, they play Loyola Marymount again followed by North Dakota on Friday.
#13. Nebraska (2-1) (+1)
The Huskers went 2-1 in the “I made my own bubble challenge” in Lincoln. They crushed McNeese State in their cupcake game, they lost to a pretty good Nevada in a game they easily could have won, and they beat NDSU who is no slouch as smaller conference opponents go. Looks like it will be the Teddy Allen and Dalano Banton show in Lincoln. Through the first week, Allen is averaging 17.7 PPG, 6 RPG and even 4.3 steals per game. Banton averaged 14.7 PPG, 7.3 RPG and 6.3 APG. The Huskers should add 2 more wins this week with South Dakota and Florida A&M coming to town.
#14. Northwestern (0-0) (E)
No action from Northwestern last week. They should be able to start the season 2-0 with home games against Arkansas Pine Bluff and Chicago State. Wisconsin and Illinois just beat these two teams last week by 46 and 59 points respectively. If Northwestern falters in either of these games, it’s going to be a very tough year in Evanston.