I kind of feel bad for Rutgers now. After Purdue completely destroyed them last night I felt a twinge of sympathy, mostly because they came into the game with only 6 healthy scholarship players. That's unheard of in the Big Ten. Even a heavily sanctioned Indiana was not down to only 6 scholarship guys. They could have the Fab Five as five of the six guys and they would still struggle in conference play. Since they only have six guys, and they aren't that good, it is a terrible handicap to go through the year.
So it is no wonder Purdue buzzsawed through them. It is probably safe to say that it could have been worse. After trailing 2-0 Purdue went on a 41-13 run from 18:24 to 6:00 of the first half. When a guy who hadn't even played in a month (Jacquil Taylor) gets a double-double in 14 minutes of action you know the ass-whipping is thorough.
So yeah, it is safe to say Rutgers is buried at the bottom of this week's Power Rankings.
1. Iowa (14-3, 5-0) - The Hawkeyes are on quite a run and they get to go to New Jersey next for their turn at Rutgers. It is almost like teams are setting benchmarks to be one-upped every week against the Scarlett Knights. After that, the Hawkeyes get Purdue at home and got to Maryland. If they come out of that unscathed at 8-0 the last 10 games are much, much easier.
2. Maryland (16-2, 5-1) - Last season Northwestern almost upset the Terps at home, so tonight's game is not a layup. They then go to Michigan State for a huge game on Saturday from both sides. A Maryland win might be the death blow to MSU title hopes and a Michigan State wins pulls the Terps back to the pack.
3. Indiana (15-3, 5-0) - I want to know who Indiana blew to get this easy conference schedule to start. This week they get the Illinois schools at home and so far Ohio State is the only team of substance they have played. Against both Rutgers and Minnesota they were sloppy and would have lost to anyone not named Minnesota and Rutgers. Someone needs to beat them (Illinois? Please?) because the fans are getting insufferable again.
4. Purdue (16-3, 4-2) - I have a feeling that Purdue is going to regret the stinkbomb in Champaign and the collapse against Iowa. Even if Purdue comes back to beat Iowa this Sunday and does well against Michigan State and Maryland you're asking them to drop maybe two more games the rest of the way to still win the title. I can see the boilers going 13-5 or so from here, but it would be frustrating when this team should probably be unbeaten in league play if not for Illinois and that huge collapse vs. Iowa. We'll see.
5. Michigan (13-5, 3-2) - Well, now it is time for the Wolverines to go on a run. They get a nice foursome of Minnesota-Nebraska-Rutgers-Penn State to likely get to 7-2. Only a trip to Nebraska is a potential stumbling block there. With a home game against Iowa to finish the season they may not be out of this just yet.
6. Michigan State (16-3, 3-3) - A home game against Nebraska is exactly what the Spartans need. They get that tomorrow night before a huge Saturday game against Maryland. Do they already have too many losses to compete with their finishing schedule? They still have to go to Michigan, Purdue, and Ohio State, which will all be tough. Don't count out Northwestern at home, either.
7. Ohio State (12-7, 4-2) - So what are you doing, Ohio State? Are you a good team that is going to challenge the best teams in the conference or are you punchless on the road? If you could figure out your road issues around Friday morning that would be great. Purdue should be able to hold serve at home on Thursday, but Ohio State has always been Painter's toughest matchup, so they scare me a little.
8. Northwestern (15-4. 3-3) - Oh Northwestern... it is like they realized Penn State was a top 100 RPI team and lost as a result. It was a severe blow to their NCAA hopes, but if they can get a win or two in their next few games (at Maryland, at Northwestern, Michigan State, Iowa) they will be right back in the hunt. I just feel bad for them because they could easily still win 20 games and be nowhere near the Bubble.
9. Wisconsin (10-9, 2-4) - The Badgers aren't going to win the Big Ten and probably are not going to go to the NCAA Tournament, but they are going to be a bastard for anyone to face. They still have games left against Indiana, Maryland, Michigan State, Iowa, Purdue, and Michigan. They're going to win at least one of those and ruin someone's day.
10. Nebraska (11-8, 3-3) - Nebraska started 0-3, but won three in a row over Rutgers, Minnesota, and Illinois. The win at Illinois was a convincing one too. This is still a team that might make the NIT and has opportunity to do a little damage. Their goal should be to stay above .500 overall and avoid playing on Wednesday in Indianapolis.
11. Penn State (11-8, 2-4) - Penn State has already had their signature day-ruining upset. It wasn't so much that they beat Northwestern, but they did it in Evanston and with relative ease. This is still not a good team, but they have enough to put up a fight on the right night.
12. Illinois (9-9, 1-4) - Of course the Fighting Illini had to have their one nutty shooting and defensive game against Purdue. They showed they at least can put a scare into teams, but I fear that game only served to warn everyone else in the league that they are dangerous and to prepare accordingly. Purdue took them lightly and got beat as a result. Now if Malcolm Hill and Kendrick Nunn could drop a combined 55 tonight that would help out a lot.
13. Minnesota (6-12, 0-5) - I was watching the end of the Minnesota-Indiana game and my goodness the Gophers are bad. A turnover down just 4 with 38 seconds left, missed free throws, ill-advised shots, etc. Minnesota had several chances in the last minutes to get ahead of Indiana and failed on all of them. As bad as they are, I fear next week's trip to Minneapolis, mostly because this season feels very similar to 2009-10 so far.
14. Rutgers (6-13, 0-5) - Purdue's largest B1G ever combined with the worst home loss in Rutgers history will get the Scarlet Knights here. They are on winless watch. 1999-2000 Northwestern was winless in B1G play. Rutgers is not just losing, but they are getting crushed. The five losses have been by 7, 25, 34, 26, and 50. Their finale is at home against Minnesota, at least.