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The Only Power Rankings: Week Two

Miles Bridges is back and so are The Only Power Rankings. LETS GO.

NCAA Basketball: Rutgers at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

The spectacle and unpredictability of the conference season has already taken the Big Ten by storm (looking at you, Nebraska) in just the first week of action. Squads are already jockeying for good early positioning at the top of one of the most prestigious basketball conferences in the nation.

The Big Ten may not have as many teams ranked in the Top 25 as usual (only three as of the Associated Press poll), but the quality of play across the conference, including the bottom tier, is high.

After digesting the first week of Big Ten action, here are your updated power rankings with an added stock watch –– whether I’m buying a team’s success, not impressed with their performance or determining the jury is still out on that team:

NCAA Basketball: Wisconsin at Indiana Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

1. WISCONSIN: (13-2, 2-0 B1G): Wisconsin’s combination of youth (sophomore Ethan Happ at 13.1 PPG and 9.4 RPG) and experience (leading scorer Bronson Koenig and Wooden Award Watchlist member Nigel Hayes) have them out to a quick 2-0 start with a win at Indiana. The Badgers have received strong bench play from both Khalil Iverson and D’Mitrik Trice, younger brother of former Michigan State guard Travis. This team will revolve around ball control, defense, and managing the pace. That starts with Happ, who is second in the conference in field goal percentage and rebounds as well as third in steals. It doesn’t get easier for the Badgers, who take a trip to West Lafayette to take on Purdue this Saturday before hosting Ohio State and Michigan next week. STOCK = UP

2. PURDUE (12-3, 1-1 B1G): Despite an overtime loss to Minnesota, Purdue remains a strong favorite to win the conference. Caleb Swanigan is still doing Caleb Swanigan things (four 20-point, 20-rebound games and 12 double-doubles this year) and they are getting good support from big man Isaac Haas and the two Edwards’, Vince and Carsen. Dakota Mathias remains a threat from the perimeter, but this team thrives in the paint. Ohio State and Wisconsin are up next for them, followed by an Iowa team they opened Big Ten play with –– an 89-67 win over the Hawkeyes. Head coach Matt Painter has a talented, championship level team. STOCK = EVEN

3. MICHIGAN STATE (11-5, 3-0 B1G): The Spartans were boosted by the return of freshman Miles Bridges and had no trouble with Rutgers on Wednesday night, something head coach Tom Izzo needed after two close victories to open conference play over Northwestern and Minnesota. Other freshmen players in Joshua Langford, Cassius Winston and Nick Ward have grown immensely without Bridges, but the Spartans need more from guards Eron Harris and Matt McQuaid, though Harris led the team in scoring against Rutgers. Michigan State has Penn State and a rematch with Minnesota up next with both games at home. If the Spartans can sneak by those two and Ohio State on the road, a 6-0 conference start before facing Purdue and Indiana could keep the Spartans at the top end of the rankings. STOCK = UP

4. NORTHWESTERN (12-3, 1-1 B1G): Following a conference-opening win on the road against Penn State, the Wildcats came out ice cold against the Spartans in their next contest, finding themselves down 15 or more early. The final score –– a nine-point loss –– was respectable, but Northwestern and head coach Chris Collins have some work to do to make a run at the NCAA Tournament. Home games with Minnesota and Iowa sandwiched between back-to-back road contests with Nebraska and Rutgers opens up a strong opportunity to get to 5-1 in the Big Ten and strengthen their resume. Northwestern is led by leading scorer Scottie Lindsay (15.7 PPG, 42% from three) and Vic Law (13.7 PPG, 5.9 RPG) matched with a terrific leader and passer in Bryant McIntosh give them a great shot. STOCK = UP

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Maryland Rafael Suanes-USA TODAY Sports

5. MARYLAND (13-2, 1-1 B1G): Maryland and head coach Mark Turgeon didn’t challenge themselves much in the non-conference, but opened up Big Ten play with a blowout win over Illinois. The Terps followed up that impressive victory with a defeat to Nebraska at home. Maryland’s engine is Melo Trimble (17.9 PPG), and he is going to have to do almost everything for this team, though freshmen Justin Jackson and Anthony Cowen provide moderate help. A trip to Ann Arbor and a game against Indiana upcoming will show the true colors of this squad and whether or not Trimble will get some support from his teammates. STOCK = DOWN

6. MINNESOTA (13-2, 1-1 B1G): Minnesota, like Maryland, did not challenge themselves in non-conference play and proceeding to drop a heartbreaker to Michigan State in overtime after blowing a double-digit halftime lead. The Golden Gophers responded, led by leading scorer and assist man Nate Mason as they knocked off Purdue on the road for the most signature win of Richard Pitino’s Minnesota career. As for Mason, all he did was drop 31 points, dish out 11 assists and grab six rebounds in the overtime victory, helping him garner Big Ten Player of the Week honors. Freshman Amir Coffey is a thrill to watch and Dupree McBrayer and Jordan Murphy provide a strong starting unit for the Gophers. A matchup with Northwestern should be a lot of fun on Thursday. STOCK = UP

7. INDIANA (10-5, 0-2 BIG): Needless to say, not the start that head coach Tom Crean and the Hoosiers wanted in Big Ten play. After losing to a 6-6 Nebraska team, Indiana got whooped by Louisville and faded down the stretch against Wisconsin. All three games were at Assembly Hall on top of that, and their first road matchup in conference play is against one of the conference’s best players in Trimble. The bright side? Indiana remains with a very talented roster with stars like James Blackmon Jr. and Thomas Bryant. They have two of their next three at home against Illinois and Penn State, followed by a weak Rutgers team. Still, there’s some reason to worry in Bloomington. STOCK = DOWN

8. MICHIGAN (11-4, 1-1 B1G): The Wolverines missed some opportunities for quality wins outside of conference and opened up the Big Ten with a road overtime loss to Iowa. However, forward D.J. Wilson had a coming out party with 28 points there, offering some hope for more offensive support inside. The Wolverines will still continue to shoot the three, and seniors Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton Jr. can take over games. A comeback win at home over Penn State showed some resiliency, but Penn State shouldn’t be beating a team with this much talent by 14 with 12 minutes left to play. Maryland and Illinois are up next, and both will present a challenge. STOCK = DOWN

9. NEBRASKA (8-6, 2-0 B1G): Nebraska came into Big Ten play sitting at .500 and last in my original week one power rankings. They are up five spots now after lighting it up from all over the field in road wins against a ranked Indiana team and Maryland. Tai Webster (17.4 PPG, 3.7 APG) has developed into the recruit head coach Tim Miles thought he would be, and Glenn Watson Jr. has become a consistent outside threat. Nebraska won their first two road games in conference play for the first time since joining the conference and have their first conference home game Thursday against Iowa. Nebraska might not make the NCAA Tournament, but should continue to be one of the more fun teams to watch in the Big Ten. STOCK = UP

NCAA Basketball: Missouri vs Illinois Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

10. ILLINOIS (11-4, 1-1 B1G): After beating BYU and Missouri before opening the Big Ten season with Maryland, the Fighting Illini looked to have some confidence before facing the Terps. With players like Malcolm Hill (18.7 PPG) leading Illinois, a blowout loss was discouraging, but they fought back from an early deficit to Ohio State and picked up a quality win in their conference home-opener. Games against Indiana and Michigan followed by a rematch with Maryland plans to test the Illini, who is everything falls into place, could sneak into the top half of the conference. In order to do that, Tracy Abrams and Maverick Morgan will have to help out Hill in the scoring column. STOCK = EVEN

11. OHIO STATE (10-4, 0-1 B1G): Ohio State has all the talent in the world with Jae’Sean Tate, JaQuan Lyle and Marc Loving, but looked sloppy in the second half against Illinois and opened up with a disappointing loss. The Buckeyes have a terrible stretch in the next four with home games against Purdue and Michigan State sandwiched between road games with Minnesota and Wisconsin. Ohio State will probably have to win at least two of those four to have any hopes of not only finishing in the top half of conference, but even having a prayer at the NCAA Tournament. STOCK = DOWN

12. IOWA (9-6, 1-1 B1G): The Hawkeyes are led by Big Ten leading score Peter Jok (22.1 PPG), who carried them in their overtime victory over Michigan. The problem for head coach Fran McCaffery and Iowa is that when Jok is even a little off, blowout losses like the one to Purdue to open the conference season. Iowa is much like Maryland, but the Terps have a bit stronger supporting cast. A road game with red-hot Nebraska is up next, and the Hawkeyes could struggle before home matchups with Rutgers and Purdue for the second time. STOCK = DOWN

13. PENN STATE (9-7, 1-2 B1G): Oh boy. The Nittany Lions, led by Shep Garner, had a 14-point lead with just 12 minutes to go on the road against Michigan but blew the lead in the final two minutes. The Nittany Lions also led against Northwestern but couldn’t close that out either. Coach Patrick Chambers has some talent, but his team can’t seem to put it together when it matters. They are more of a trap game than a team like Rutgers is, but shouldn;t put up that much of a fight against top tier competition STOCK = DOWN

14. RUTGERS (11-5, 0-3 B1G): Well, it was fun while it lasted. Rutgers was 11-2 but have since been blown out by Wisconsin and Michigan State while adding a loss to Penn State. The Scarlet Knights have a decent backcourt led by Corey Sanders, but the rest of the squad hasn’t translated their non-conference play into Big Ten season. Rutgers could be a trap game for some middle ground teams, but shouldn’t challenge for any relativity in the rugged Big Ten. STOCK = DOWN