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The Inaugural 2011-12 Big Ten Power Rankings

I am back! Yesterday I imposed a one-day suspension from the site and Twitter upon myself. I said my peace on Saturday and I simply needed to walk away for a day and decompress. There are times where it is best to simply walk away and not even deal with general dumbassery. When I went back to Twitter this morning there was little surprise that dumbassery had mentioned me, but I'm just going to ignore it from now on.

This week also represents a lull in the basketball schedule. We're still a week out from seriously ramping up bowl coverage, and Finals around the country mean for a very light basketball week. Most teams in the Big Ten have played about ten games, so there is really enough data out there to do a Power Rankings. I need a theme, however. Off Tackle Empire already borrowed my new favorite show on TV, Dexter, but I am going to use it anyway. As Patricia Henley, my Fiction Writing teacher at Purdue once said, "Good writers borrow. Great writers steal."

1. Ohio State - 8-1 - Dexter Morgan - With Jared Sullinger, Ohio State is almost terrifying. As we saw against Kansas, they are vulnerable without him. Dexter himself is unstoppable through almost six seasons so far, but judging by the clip of next week's season finale, he clearly has a weakness in his son, Harrison. Ohio State without Sullinger is like Harrison being kidnapped by this weird Travis Marshall guy in season six. As long as Harrison is safe (Sullinger is healthy) the Big Ten is there for the taking for the Buckeyes.

2. Indiana - 9-0 - Brian Moser - Brian was the main villain in season 1 with a few appearances as Dexter's "dark passenger" conscience in season 2. He made a stunning, unexpected return briefly in season 6 when we thought he was long gone. Over the course of the series he has been one of the show's best characters. His downfall was when he tried to kill Debra at the end of season one in order to get Dexter to go along with him. Instead, Dexter (his biological brother) had to kill him in the season finale. Indiana's win over Kentucky was like Brian's sudden return his season. It was an unexpected turn of events that has a lot of promise going forward if he s regularly going to come back and mess with Dexter's conscience.

3. Illinois - 10-0 - Angel Batista - Batista is a solid background character in most episodes. He doesn't get a lot of attention sometimes, but he has become one of my favorite characters and he consistently delivers a solid performance. I haven't noticed Illinois a lot this year, but they are 10-0 with a young lineup against some good opponents. Gonzaga, Maryland, and Richmond are solid wins for this team, which has the look of a consistent top 25 team despite being doubted. Batista, by my count, has been shot, stabbed, divorced twice, framed for rape, and kidnapped. He still keeps coming back, however, like Illinois.

4. Michigan State - 8-2 - Harry Morgan - The most consistent team in the Big Ten for the last decade, the Spartans have been the guiding light and the team most in the Big Ten wish they could emulate. That's Harry, Dexter's conscience, all the way. Even when Harry tends to disappear at times everything eventually comes back to him and his code. Michigan State's code of Big Ten championships and consistent performance in the NCAA's is something I wish Purdue could emulate. Even with the 0-2 start they have recovered to learn from it and win eight straight.

5. Wisconsin - 8-2 - Tom Matthews - You might wonder who Matthews is. He is the grizzled Deputy Chief of Miami Metro. He's mostly a background character, but his high rank means he calls a lot of the shots in the department. It also helps for this comparison that he looks a little like Bo Ryan. The Badgers are always there in the background. You know they are going to be tough to deal with, but it is inevitable that you have to deal with them. It's a bitch of a time when you do deal with them too. The Badgers' two losses are a little like Matthews dealing with the dead hooker and being forced to retire this season. Somehow, I don't think Matthews is going away, and I don't think Wisconsin is going away, either.

6. Purdue - 9-2 - Debra Morgan - Debra is a tough character, but she also has a fatal flaw. Purdue can't rebound at times and our free throw shooting, aside from Robbie Hummel is downright awful. Debra's flaw is that she has terrible taste in men. Her first boyfriend in the series turned out to be Dexter's long lost brother and a serial killer. Then she fell for a man (Lundy) twice her age. Later she dated Anton, who was good for her, but left him for Lundy when he came back to track Trinity. Lundy was killed, then she fell for Quinn. This season she dumped Quinn, was promoted a little too high, and seems on the verge of snapping emotionally. She related to Purdue in that we play tough, but we're fatally flawed. That toughness can work for awhile, but when it cracks, it cracks hard.

7. Michigan - 7-2 - Vince Masuka - Vince is one of my favorite background characters. No one can really figure him out, but he adds some good stuff with his sense of humor and filthy mind. He's going to be around in most every episode just like how Michigan is going to be around all season. I still can't figure the Wolverines out. They looked good out in Maui, but came back and looked pretty bad in the loss to Virginia. In the end, I think Michigan is going to be in the NCAA Tournament just about like how Vince is in the show. He's there, but not a major player.

8. Northwestern - 7-1 - Joey Quinn - Can we really take Northwestern seriously this season? Can we take Quinn seriously this season? Quinn is a major character, taking over for Doakes at the start of season three. We've been waiting for him to fulfill his potential for four years, just like Northwestern. Since breaking up with Debra at the beginning of season six he has hit the bottle hard and started banging every loose woman in sight, hoping to end the pain. Isn't that why Northwestern played Baylor, hoping they'd get the RPI boost to ease their pain of not making the NCAA Tournament ever? The Wildcats are still a dangerous team, just as Quinn is a dangerous character.

9. Minnesota - 10-1 - Rita Bennett/Morgan - Rita was Dexter's girlfriend, then wife. She had a major role on the show, then was killed in stunning fashion to end season 4. That's Minnesota when they lost Trevor Mbakwe. Yes, the Golden Gophers are 10-1, but they feel like a dead team walking since they lost Mbakwe. They really haven't played a good team yet since losing Mbakwe. That will change suddenly with Illinois, Michigan, Purdue, and Indiana in their first five Big Ten games. That will probably be the section of the season where Miami metro homicide takes Rita's lifeless body out of the tub and has her funeral.

10. Nebraska - 6-3 - James Doakes - By now, everyone forgets that Doakes was on the show, but he was a major character in the first 23 episodes before Dexter framed him as the Bay Harbor Butcher and he was killed by Lila. I find myself forgetting that Nebraska is indeed now in the Big Ten. After losing to Wake Forest in the Challenge it looks like they won't be much of a factor going forward (like Doakes is now). Still, Doakes nearly brought down Dexter in season two, and is one of the few people that figured out who Dexter really was. Sure, he is dead now, but he was the biggest danger Dexter has faced to date.

11. Iowa - 5-5 - Arthur Mitchell (the Trinity Killer) - The Hawkeyes are having a pretty weak season, but I gave them Trinity because they were the villain that ruined our season last year. We were never the same after losing at Iowa in the regular season finale last year, just like how Dexter has not been the same since trinity killed Rita. They also hide in plain site as a dangerous team. Melsahn Basabe is a player that seems to be lying in wait as a dangerous power forward that can hurt a team or two down the road. Once he wakes up, Iowa can be a Trinity-esque killer who can ruin a season with an unexpected win.

12. Penn State - 6-5 - Harrison Morgan - The Nittany Lions are cute and part of the Big Ten, but no one expects anything at all from them. Harrison is now part of the show, but he never speaks and is the most vulnerable cast member. At least Penn State helped us win the ACC/Big Ten challenge with the win over Boston College. Harrison has redeemed Dexter somewhat and has given him a reason to think there is some good in him. I think the entire conference can relate. It is hard to hate on a cute little boy that smiles a lot, and that is Penn State coming to every Big Ten arena this year.