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Emma's Big Ten Power Rankings: League Is Down In 14-'15

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.

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.

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.

Chris Emma covers the college sports scene for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.

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