This is the tenth installment of our weekly Big Ten Power Rankings which we will publish each Friday. This week’s voters were Deepak Jayanti, Joey Nowak and Kevin Trahan of the Big Ten Microsite.
1) Michigan (Last week #1): The Wolverines are one of the hottest teams in the nation right now, and after cruising against Northwestern last week, they did the same against Iowa. John Beilein’s squad struggled with Nebraska but they got the win and a game like that may be a good gut-check for a young team. Ultimately, Michigan is in this spot because it passes the “eye test” and has one of the best teams from a shooting perspective in the country. A game at Ohio State this weekend looms, followed by a trip to Minnesota, so we’ll soon find out what this Michigan team is made of on the road, especially with so many young players contributing, such as Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III.
Nik Stauskas(left) has been very effective for the Wolverines so far.
Player Stepping Up: Trey Burke would be the obvious choice here, but Nik Stauskas (13.5 PPG) has also emerged to give Michigan yet another top scoring option. He’s one of the best pure shooters in the league even though he’s just a freshman, and has stepped up huge from the start. His long-range shooting is off the charts and he will continue to be effective with all the open looks he will continue to receive in John Beilein’s offense.
2) Minnesota (Last week #3): We have seen enough from the Gophers so far to move them slightly above the Hoosiers. Indiana’s road win at Iowa was impressive but that was against a young Hawkeyes team, while the Gophers’ road win in Champaign was even more noteworthy because they were able to hold the Illini guards to 13% shooting from beyond the arc. Trevor Mbakwe is back in the starting lineup and Tubby Smith has his team playing an excellent brand of disciplined basketball this season.
Player Stepping Up: Dre Hollins (13.7 PPG) is the leading scorer for Smith but Joe Coleman came to play in Champaign as he torched the Illini with 29 points. He was 2-of-3 from beyond the arc and was very active in transition to push the tempo in the huge road win. He may end up being a nice complement to Hollins if he continues to come up big in key games.
3) Indiana (Last week #2): Indiana drops a spot in the power rankings, not so much because of what it has (or hasn’t) done, but more because of how impressive Minnesota has been to this point. The Hoosiers got by Iowa on the road and took care of Penn State, but lack a “wow” conference win because of who they have played. They’ll get the opportunity for such a win with Minnesota visiting Assembly Hall this weekend. It will be an impressive match-up of frontcourts, and Cody Zeller needs to step up after a good-but-not-great start.
Player Stepping Up: Many people expected Zeller to be the star of this team, but so far, that title belongs to Victor Oladipo (13.3 PPG), who has dazzled teams in just about every phase of the game. He’s especially deadly with his pressure defense and effectiveness on the break. He’s improved a lot from last season and could be the key for IU to be successful against Minnesota next week.
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