By Chris Emma-
(CBS) Stuck in the muck of the Big Ten sits an Indiana team with all the potential to make an NCAA Tournament run or bow out in the NIT. It’s the conference’s most intriguing team.READ MORE: Elderly Cab Driver Shot In Roseland Carjacking
Two years ago, Tom Crean worked his Hoosiers into a No. 1 seed in the tournament, before it would succumb to Syracuse in the Sweet 16. Then, last year, Indiana failed to make any tournament.
Indiana currently sits at 18-8 overall, 8-5 in Big Ten play, coming off a tough road loss to Maryland and convincing home win over Maryland. It has a full season of mixed results. Sustained success will lead to the tournament, while a collapse would mean the NIT.
The Hoosiers are at a crossroads for their season, one of many mysteries in the Big Ten. Let’s dive into this week’s power rankings:
1.) Wisconsin (23-2, 11-1) — Nobody is close to the Badgers, who are running away with the conference’s regular-season crown.
2.) Maryland (21-5, 9-4) — The Terrapins put together a good, two-win week, with a favorable slate the rest of the way before tournament time.
3.) Ohio State (19-7, 8-5) — While the Buckeyes haven’t been consistent, they have that x-factor in D’Angelo Russell that can carry them deep into March.
4.) Purdue (17-9, 8-4) — Big Ten play has gone well for the Boilermakers, but they’re still stuck hoping brutal losses to North Florida and Gardner-Webb don’t keep them out of the NCAA Tournament.
5.) Michigan State (17-8, 8-4) — Of course, it had to be Denzel Valentine winning it on Valentine’s Day. Maybe that win over Ohio State will catapult the Spartans to a strong finish to the regular season.READ MORE: Belmont Cragin Carjacking Leads To Fiery Crash, Multiple Other Parked Cars Struck
6.) Indiana (18-8, 8-5) — This is a team on the brink of a big finish or utter disaster; it just depends on if the threes are falling.
7.) Illinois (17-9, 7-6) — Following a great win over Michigan, the Fighting Illini came back down to earth in Wisconsin. Still, John Groce likely has a tournament team in Champaign.
8.) Iowa (15-10, 6-6) — A tough loss at Northwestern capped off a two-loss week for the Hawkeyes. A weak schedule should guide Iowa to the NCAA Tournament.
9.) Minnesota (16-10 5-8) — A preseason favorite for the tournament needs to claw its way out of a hole to reach the Big Dance.
10.) Michigan (13-12, 6-7) — If only John Beilein had a healthy complement of talent for his struggling young core.
11.) Nebraska (13-12, 5-8) — Terran Petteway is dealing with personal issues with his mother’s health. Thoughts to the Cornhuskers’ star forward.
12.) Penn State (15-11, 3-10) — Remarkably, the Nittany Lions keep fighting through constant gut-wrenching losses.
13.) Northwestern (11-14, 2-10) — After a 10-game losing streak seemed to be ripping the Wildcats’ hearts out, they responded with a big overtime win over Iowa.
14.) Rutgers (10-16, 2-10) — It needs to be said again: How did the Scarlet Knights beat Wisconsin?MORE NEWS: CPD: Woman Accidentally Shot, Killed By Boyfriend In McKinley Park
Follow Chris on Twitter @CEmma670.