It's February and we are pretty much halfway through the Big Ten conference schedule. Which means that we have a pretty good idea of who the contenders are and who the pretenders are. This is a distinction that's pretty obvious in the latest set of our Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings as well.
While there isn't a ton of movement as far as positions are concerned, the top five teams in the conference have really started to pull away from everybody else. And it's not just the top five that have broken away, as the top two have pulled away from everybody else as well.
And Michigan and Indiana are closer to each other now than they've been since the calendar flipped to 2013.
Team (Points, Last Week) -- This Week's Games
1. MICHIGAN (132, 1) -- 2/2 at Indiana, 2/5 vs Ohio State
2. INDIANA (130, 2) -- 2/2 vs Michigan, 2/7 at Illinois
3. OHIO STATE (105, 4) -- 2/2 at Nebraska, 2/5 at Michigan
4. MICHIGAN STATE (103, 3) -- 2/6 vs Minnesota
5. MINNESOTA (102, 5) -- 2/3 vs Iowa, 2/6 at Michigan State
6. WISCONSIN (85, 6) -- 2/3 at Illinois, 2/6 vs Iowa
7. IOWA (81, 7) -- 2/3 at Minnesota, 2/6 at Wisconsin
8. ILLINOIS (74, 8) -- 2/3 vs Wisconsin, 2/7 vs Indiana
9. NORTHWESTERN (68, 9) -- 2/2 vs Purdue
10. PURDUE (61, 10) -- 2/2 at Northwestern, 2/5 at Penn State
11. NEBRASKA (47, 11) -- 2/2 vs Ohio State
12. PENN STATE (38, 12) -- 2/5 vs Purdue
Thanks to its win over Michigan State last week the Hoosiers got a bit of a bump while Michigan's victories over Illinois and Northwestern didn't mean quite as much. As a result, only two points separate our top two teams before there's a 25-point drop to Ohio State in third.
And while Ohio State, Michigan State and Minnesota are all separated by a total of three points, the gap between fifth and sixth is 17 points.
In other words, the class system in the Big Ten is pretty clear right now. And while there's still half of a conference season left for all of that to change, odds are it won't. At least, not drastically.
Though this week's Game of the Week should have a big impact on next week's rankings.
GAME OF THE WEEK
Like I have any other choice here. I just mentioned how Michigan and Indiana are clearly the top two teams in this conference, and guess what? They're playing against each other on Saturday! Considering they're separated by only two points in these rankings, odds are the winner of Saturday's game will be Friday's #1.