The Big Ten Conference flexes its collective muscles this week.

The best conference in the country – or so it has appeared that way through November, December and the first few days of 2014 – has a couple of scintillating matchups on tap.

*Unbeaten – and No. 1 in these ratings – Ohio State visits once-beaten (and No. 5) Michigan State Tuesday night and;

*Illinois (No. 16) takes on unbeaten host (and No. 7) Wisconsin Wednesday evening.

And there is a potential whooper of a Big 12 contest on tap for Tuesday, as well, when Baylor (No. 12) visits unbeaten (and No. 6) Iowa State.

An early-MWC season showdown of sorts is on tap Wednesday night when Boise State is at San Diego State (No. 13), whose only defeat has come via unbeaten Arizona.

Rank (Last Week)
1. Ohio State (1)
Set the stage for its Big 10 humdinger at Michigan State with conference-opening wins at Purdue and home to Nebraska.
2. Arizona (2)
The Wildcats have played well away from Tucson this season and will have another opportunity to build upon that habit Thursday night in Westwood.
3. Syracuse (3)
The Orange’s first-ever ACC contest was a tad rocky before Jim Boeheim’s crew came out with the W at home over Miami.
4. Wichita State (4)
Conventional thinking would lead one to believe that the Shockers have the best opportunity to finish the regular season unbeaten.
5. Michigan St. (5)
The Spartans have allowed more than 65 points only four times in 14 games.
6. Iowa State (9)
Did anyone – Fred Hoiberg included – think the Cyclone would be unbeaten this deep into the season?
7. Wisconsin (10)
The Badgers bounced back from an 11-point halftime deficit at home to Iowa to match the program’s best start in 99 – yes, 99 – years.
8. Villanova (11)
Like Baylor, only snubbing of toe came about courtesy unbeaten Syracuse.
9. Florida (12)
The Gators don’t get Missouri (Feb. 4) or Kentucky (Feb. 15) until next month.
10. Oklahoma State (8)
Depth and post strength have taken hits of late.
11. Duke (6)
Jabari Parker hit his first speed bump (two of 10 shooting and just seven points) in South Bend en route to expected Freshman of the Year and first-team All-America accolades.
12. Baylor (16)
Only blemish is loss to unbeaten Syracuse in Maui Invitational finale.
13. San Diego State (NR)
The win over Kansas was just another testament to the caliber of program Steve Fisher and his staff has built.
14. Cincinnati (NR)
The Bearcats have a reasonable opportunity to get off to a very strong start in the American Athletic Conference.
15. Oregon (14)

ACC game at Wake Forest (10-3) Sunday could prove a lot tougher than some would have thought a couple of months ago.

16. Illinois (NR)
The team’s two losses were by a combined margin of 10 points with both games on the road.

THE NEXT 16 (alphabetical): Colorado 13-2, Connecticut 11-3, Creighton 12-2, Gonzaga 14-2, Harvard 13-1, Iowa 12-3, Kansas 9-4, Kansas State 11-3, Kentucky 10-3, Louisville 13-2, Massachusetts 12-1, Missouri 12-1, North Carolina 10-4, Pittsburgh 13-1, SMU 11-3 and UCLA 12-2.


*Cincinnati. The Bearcats had a nifty American Athletic Conference debut, knocking off SMU at home and then winning at Memphis for a 2-zip start.

*Kansas State. The Wildcats opened Big 12 play in fine fashion while knocking off Oklahoma State in Manhattan.

*Michigan State. The Spartans continue to show off the form that those who picked them No. 1 in the preseason expected to see, collecting road Big 10 victories against Penn State and Indiana.

*Notre Dame. The Irish stunned Duke in South Bend in their first-ever ACC contest.

*San Diego State. Steve Fisher’s club looked every bit the part of best team in the MWC, opening conference play with a win at Colorado State and then going outside of conference for a huge CBS-televised victory in Lawrence Sunday afternoon.


*Askia Booker (Colorado). The junior guard from Los Angeles averaged 20.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.5 steals in the Buffs’ Pac 12 home wins over the Oregon schools.

*Josh Davis (San Diego State). The transfer forward from Tulane grabbed 15 and 14 rebounds, respectively, in road victories against Colorado State and Kansas. In his past six games he is averaging 14.3 rebounds.

*Doug McDermott (Creighton). He averaged 24.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in the program’s first two Big East games, victories over Marquette and Seton Hall.

*Lamar Patterson (Pittsburgh). The senior forward had 22 points, eight rebounds, six assists and two steals as Panthers won at North Carolina State in their first-ever ACC game.

*JayVaughn Pinkston (Villanova). The junior post averaged 20.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in the team’s Big East-opening wins over Butler and Providence.

Frank Burlison has been covering hoops for 30+ years for a variety of publications.

Follow Frank on twitter @FrankieBur. Also make sure to follow his website at College coaching staffs interested in Burlison’s scouting service should contact him at [email protected]


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