Is the Big Ten the country’s best conference for hoops? With 8 teams in or near the rankings a case can be made that it is, and according to my favorite projection service kenpom.com the B1G does get the nod, followed by the Big 12 then the Big East (see how it all stacks up here). Since we put a premium on points and covers here, I’ll rank the teams you should be betting on.
BETTING POWER RANKINGS
1. INDIANA (9-0, 5-0 ATS, #13 kenpom.com)
It’s good to be back in the spotlight, isn’t it Indiana? The Kentucky game was a nice win but the perfect setup for an upset – talented but inexperienced team on the road against a name program who hasn’t played a game of this magnitude in years. Still, gotta hand it to Tom Cream, whose 9-0 and covering (5-0 ATS).
2. MICHIGAN STATE (8-2, 5-2 ATS, #12 kenpom.com)
The Spartans have gotten their act together after losing their luster against Carolina and Duke, as they have gone 4-0 ATS in their last four lined games with a road win over favored Gonzaga the cherry on top. I’ve seen this team play a few times, and though they’re a work in progress, I expect them to get better each week and once again pose a serious threat to their region opponents in March.
3. MICHIGAN (8-2, 4-3 ATS, #45 kenpom.com)
As on the gridiron, the Wolverines are proving to be team you can trust, currently riding a 4-2 streak ATS with one loss coming to Duke (understandable) and the other against an up-and-coming Virginia team on the road (it happens). Oakland was a trap they didn’t fall into and whipping Iowa State at home is what teams like this should be doing.
4. WISCONSIN (8-2, 6-2 ATS, #1 kenpom.com)
In spite of Mr. Pom’s optimism, I’m not ready to call the Badgers an elite unit, having lost to the two best teams they have faced (UNC and Marquette) though bouncing back and taking care of UNLV was a step in the right direction. I won’t kill them for squeaking by Milwaukee on the road, but aside from that the Badgers are a sparking 6-1 ATS this season and are a great play at home versus overmatched opponents.
5. MINNESOTA (10-1, 3-4-1 ATS, #43 kenpom.com)
It might feel a little high for the Gophers, but it’s relative and considering they’re 5-0 since losing Trevor Mbakwe for the season and have covered 3 of their last 4 I’m of the belief Tubby has them on the right track. Time will tell but they’re feeling as good about themselves as they can be right now.
6. OHIO STATE (8-1, 3-2 ATS, #3 kenpom.com)
I still believe the Buckeyes are the Big Ten’s best team, but at what point do you have to worry about Sullinger’s back spasms? Truth be told, no news is bad news in this case, but at least it’s December and he’s got time to get back to 100%. I’m interested to see how Vegas treats the OSU lines the rest of the month with four cupcakes coming to Columbus, but without the big man to rely on let’s play wait and see with OSU.
7. PURDUE (9-2, 6-3 ATS, #14 kenpom.com)
One might think I’ve undervalued the Boilers considering their impressive stat line, but their last 90 minutes of play have been very unsatisfying. After dominating Xavier on the road for 30 minutes (Purdue had a 19 point lead in this one), they completely collapsed and lost, then followed that up with a 5 point win over a dreadful Western Carolina team in which they were favored by 23.5. They ended up covering against Eastern Michigan but I’ve seen the Eagles play twice now and let’s just say we should all me making a fortune betting against them. This is a cold team right now.
8. ILLINOIS (10-0, 4-4 ATS, #39 kenpom.com)
I’m trying not to sleep on the Illini, but after years of underachieving and the timing of this post coming after 2 lackluster, non-covering wins, I’m not going to throw any green at them any time soon. It’s likely that I’ll let the Big Ten season formulate before I make a true judgement on them, but a win against Missori on Dec 22nd will catch my attention
9. NEBRASKA (6-3, 3-3 ATS, #77 kenpom.com)
10. NORTHESTERN (7-1, 3-2 ATS, #52 kenpom.com)
11. PENN STATE (6-5, 3-3-1 ATS, #158 kenpom.com)
12. IOWA (5-5, 2-4 ATS, #141 kenpom.com)
Sorry guys, but you’re outside the circle of trust for now. Not much to say other than I’m really disappointed in Iowa – I expected more of a surge in Fran McCaffrey’s second year. At least that fabulous corn-belt rivalry with Nebraska will mean something on the hardwood, even if it’s a battle to stay out of last place.