Injuries are already causing havoc within the Big Ten standings.
A bad back has rendered Robbie Hummel ineffective over the last few games. Without Hummel and Chris Kramer in the lineup last night, Purdue dropped to 0-2 in conference play with a loss at Penn State.
David Lighty's extended absence has sent Ohio State into a tailspin, adding to the troubles the Buckeyes were already having at point guard. The team has lost three of its last four games and will get little help from the schedule. Ohio State gets the gift of Indiana squeezed in between four straight road games to start the Big 10 season.
Anthony Tucker's slow return from a suspension in Iowa is also being attributed to an illness now. It's no surprise then that the team who recently welcomed back a key player is atop Hoops Marinara's first Big Ten Power Poll of the season.
With Goran Suton back in the starting lineup for the past four games, Michigan State is heating up. Road wins against Minnesota and Northwestern, plus Tuesday's win over Ohio State puts Michigan State alone in first place with a 3-0 record.
Wisconsin, who has avoided the injury bug so far, is the only other undefeated team in league play and hosts Northwestern on Wednesday night. The Badgers posted an impressive win in Ann Arbor and then withstood the Nittany Lions to start 2-0. Bo Ryan's crew boasts the second-best non-conference strength of schedule among Big Ten teams and always seems to have the right stuff come January.
There were only three Big Ten teams (MSU, Purdue, Minnesota) left in the traditional polls entering the week. Meanwhile, the conference settled into fifth amongst all conferences in Ken Pomeroy's ratings. While the league might be as competitive as it has been in years, chances are the teams will be beating up on each other, preventing the true breakout year that many anticipating in the early going.
So despite four teams with three games played already (and Indiana with only one), let's get this inaugural list underway, shall we?