By Chris Emma-
(CBS) One week into Big Ten play, we’ve seen few reasons to believe the conference’s collective struggle in nonconference play wasn’t a fluke. Following one of the best seasons the Big Ten has seen in 2013-’14, it’s way down.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Rain Continues Into Monday Afternoon; Wind Advisory, Lakeshore Flood Advisory In Effect
There’s no disputing the teams at the top, and the same can be said for those at the bottom. In the middle, there are a lot of question marks.
Without further ado, let’s delve into this week’s Big Ten power rankings.
1.) Wisconsin (14-1, 2-0) — Forget being just the best team in the Big Ten. Wisconsin is one of the top teams in the entire country. The fourth-ranked Badgers are rounded throughout their roster. Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker are the stars, but the supporting cast is just as important.
2.) Maryland (14-1, 2-0) — Fun fact: Maryland is the Big Ten’s last national champion. Maybe that addition was good for more than the $45 million per year in television revenue for each conference school. The Terrapins are for real on the hard court.
3.) Iowa (10-4, 1-0) — The Hawkeyes have found a way to underachieve the past two seasons, even with a loaded lineup. This may be different for Fran McCaffery’s team, which is one of the Big Ten’s best.
4.) Ohio State (12-3, 1-1) — Coach Thad Matta opted to break the zone-only defense and played man against Illinois, resulting in 20 forced turnovers. Not a bad adjustment. The Buckeyes have been inconsistent, though they’re not alone in that regard.
5.) Indiana (11-3, 1-0) — The early-season surprise in the Big Ten, the Hoosiers are playing good basketball, that following a year in which they entirely missed the postseason. Tom Crean’s seat has been very warm, but perhaps IU can rebound this season.
6.) Michigan State (9-5, 1-0) — Rebuilding seasons for Tom Izzo often mean struggling in the nonconference a bit (hello, Texas Southern loss), then rallying in Big Ten play to make a tournament run. Here we are again, with the Spartans poised to roll after an ugly start.READ MORE: Chicago-Based Movers Ghost Family After Showing Up At New Home Without A Lot Of Their Belongings
7.) Purdue (10-5, 2-0) — The Boilermakers followed up a weak nonconference run with two impressive wins, beating Minnesota and Michigan at Mackey Arena. Things will get tougher as it hits the road, but Matt Painter’s new-look crew has potential.
8.) Nebraska (8-5, 0-1) — Remember how the Cornhuskers rose out of nowhere in Big Ten play and made a tournament run? This is a different team, one which may not have that magic. The conference seems to have figured out Terran Petteway, and the Big Red doesn’t have many other answers.
9.) Minnesota (11-4, 0-2) — The Golden Gophers could become a tournament team, but they have a long way to go. Blowing a big lead to Purdue sure didn’t help their cause. Even worse, they face games with Ohio State and at Michigan this week.
10.) Michigan (8-6, 1-1) — The Wolverines may be the most perplexing team in the country. There’s greater talent than their 8-6 record indicates, but the growing process has been brutal. John Beilein has a lot of work to do.
11.) Illinois (10-5, 0-2) — Conference play hasn’t start off with much promise for the Fighting Illini, dropping a pair in the opening week. John Groce has a lot to work with in his lineup, but there are more red flags than reasons to celebrate.
12.) Northwestern (10-5, 1-1) — Sunday in Evanston brought the young Wildcats a sobering reminder of where they stand in a rebuilding project, courtesy of the Wisconsin Badgers. After the game, Chris Collins said he knew what he signed up for as head coach. There will be more 23-point losses than big wins.
13.) Rutgers (9-6, 1-1) — The Big Ten’s newcomer ditches the basement with a win over Penn State. There won’t be many more victories for Eddie Jordan’s team, at least not this season.
14.) Penn State (12-3, 0-2) — The good news: PSU won 12 games in nonconference play. The bad news: It played the 319th-ranked schedule. Reality is about to hit hard for the Nittany Lions.MORE NEWS: Couple Frustrated When Wedding Limo Arrives An Hour Late; Limo Company Says Staffing Shortage Is Causing Problems
Chris Emma covers the college sports scene for CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.