Big Ten Power Rankings: Groce is the only likely adios

This is the time of year when there’s a lot of blogging about Coaches on the Hot Seat.

Gould Headshot square

The hottest seat in the Big Ten belongs to John Groce. Barring a major (and unfathomable at this point) turnaround, it appears that young athletic director Josh Whitman will have to say adios to Groce.

That’s not an easy thing to do, because Groce has won some friends in Champaign with the way he carries himself. He just hasn’t won enough games.

Because TMGcollegesports.com wants to be a full-service website, I am doing some homework on some good candidates to be Illinois' next basketball coach. Coming soon . . .

Elsewhere around the Big Ten, I don’t see any other likely changes, although I wonder a bit about Indiana and Ohio State.

Some Indiana fans, who expect the moon, will clamor for Tom Crean to be gone. The injury situation, while very serious, doesn’t explain everything. But a coaching change seems extreme at this point.

Then again, if you believe http://www.tomcreanbuyout.com/, the cost of making a coaching change drops to $1 million on July 17. It’s $4 million until then, the website says.

TomCreanbuyout.com? Really?

I’m staying out of that for now.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

Ohio State is way different. It should be totally Thad Matta’s call.

He has chronic back issues, and I wouldn’t be surprised by any decision he makes in that light. But the key is, it’s his decision. If he wants to stay, end of discussion.

He’s a fine coach and man. And he’s earned the right to decide when he leaves.

If there were questions about Richard Pitino at Minnesota, he has answered them. He has put together a really nice roster. Could it have won a few more games? Yes. Is it a new group that’s learning on the job and showing signs it will improve? Absolutely.

The only other coaching question I have. . . Does somebody make Chris Collins an offer he can’t refuse?

BIG TEN POWER POWER RANKINGS

HEAVYWEIGHT CONTENDER

1, WISCONSIN (No. 1 in last ranking), 20-3, 9-1: Badgers grind out another win against desperate Indiana. They should move up in the Top 25 rankings—and more importantly, they should move up in the NCAA-bid jockeying after a weekend of Top 10 stumbles

FLOAT LIKE A BUTTERFLY, STING LIKE A BEE

2, PURDUE (No. 4), 19-5, 8-3: Defense and grit help rising Boilermakers knock off ranked opponents Northwestern and Maryland. After pounding on Wildcats, pulled off a larcenous comeback at Maryland. Big rivalry game at slumping Indiana on Thursday another major challenge. Like Wisconsin, Purdue also is on the Bracketology rise.

GOLDEN GLOVES

3, MARYLAND (No. 2), 20-3, 8-2: Just when it looked safe to heap the highest praise on the Terrapins, they let one get away vs. Purdue. Maryland is still poised for a solid season and post-season. But it is 0-1 vs. Big Ten teams with a winning record in conference play.

4, NORTHWESTERN (No. 3), 18-5, 7-3: Despite drubbing at Purdue, the Wildcats are still tracking for their first-ever NCAA berth. They could use a signature win or two to solidify their case, and will have that chance soon. After Illinois on Tuesday, meetings with Wisconsin and Maryland are next.

BOBBING AND WEAVING

5, MICHIGAN STATE (No. 5), 14-9, 6-4: Wins vs. Michigan and at Nebraska halted their three-game losing streak, and gave them forward motion. The Spartans’ schedule provides more opportunity at Michigan and vs. Iowa this week. But those are games that will require a young team to keep growing together.

6, IOWA (No. 11), 14-10, 6-5: Young Hawkeyes are showing some fight. Peter Jok returned tentatively from a troublesome back injury and contributed 12 points vs. Nebraska on Sunday. That was the second straight win for the Hawkeyes, who are getting things together without relying on Jok.

7, INDIANA (No. 7), 15-9, 5-6: Indiana has lost three of four, and was fortunate to salvage a win in triple-overtime at home vs. Penn State. No doubt, IU misses leading scorer James Blackmon Jr. (lower left leg) and No. 4 scorer OG Anunoby (right knee). But the Hoosiers have still have some solid talent—and they will need to step up vs. stoked Purdue this week. An important game for their NCAA hopes, and a fan base that's getting restless with Tom Crean.

SPARRING PARTNERS

8, MINNESOTA (No. 8), 16-7, 4-5: Just what the Gophers needed to cure their five-game losing streak, a trip to Illinois. They will need to stay sharp vs. improving Iowa. Their solid nonconference resume gives them a decent NCAA case, but they need to keep building it the rest of the way.

9, OHIO STATE (No. 12), 14-10, 4-7: Good road win at Michigan snapped two-game skid. Will be favored to add another W at home vs. Rutgers before trips to Maryland and Michigan State.

10, MICHIGAN (No. 6), 14-9, 4-6: Never mind the Big Game. The most precarious of bubble teams, Michigan took a Big Hit when it lost at home to Ohio State. The Wolverines will need to bounce back, and that won’t be easy with their schedule, starting with Michigan State in Ann Arbor on Tuesday.

SHADOW BOXING

11, NEBRASKA (No. 9), 10-13, 4-7: If that 3-0 Big Ten start seems like a lifetime ago, that’s because it basically was. Huskers have battled at times, but haven’t gotten over the hump but once since then. The Badgers, who come to Lincoln on Thursday, won’t be sympathetic.

12, PENN STATE (No. 10), 12-12, 4-7: Rutgers notches its first-ever Big Ten road win, 70-68, in State College on Saturday. And Penn State goes about the difficult task of wiping the egg off its face. Nittany Lions have lost five of six since 4-2 Big Ten start.

PUNCHING BAGS

13, ILLINOIS (No. 13), 13-11, 3-8: After demoralizing 68-59 loss to struggling Minnesota before big home crowd, Illini now face tough trip to Northwestern, Illinois’ best Big Ten team. The case for John Groce not returning as coach next season is really starting to snowball.

14, RUTGERS (No. 14), 13-11, 2-9: Kudos to persistent Scarlet Knight for notching their first Big Ten road win after 23 straight losses since joining the league in 2014-15. And with Illinois coming to them for a Big Ten finale, they might have a chance to pull into a tie for 13th place with another victory.[/membership]

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