The sleepers on this list aren’t necessarily expected to win the Big Ten, but they can definitely make some noise.
Here they are.
Is there a scarier double-digit team in the Big Ten than Penn State right now? Led by First Team All-Big Ten guard Lamar Stevens and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Josh Reaves, the Nittany Lions have been giving plenty of teams a run for their money as of late.
They have won 6 of their last 8 games including wins over Michigan and Maryland. Despite going 14-17 overall, Penn State is 39th in KenPom, which is a few spots above the Iowa basketball team.
The only concern for Penn State is they have a more difficult path than most facing off against an inconsistent, but talented Minnesota team before taking on the 2nd seeded Purdue.
By no means do I think Rutgers can win the Big Ten Conference Tournament, but I do think could be considered a threat to make a run for a few games. First, they face off against a depleted Nebraska squad that is fresh off a thrilling victory over the Iowa basketball team before taking on the 5th seeded Maryland. If they can survive that game, they get the 4th seeded Wisconsin.
All three of those games are very winnable. The Scarlet Knights only played Maryland and Wisconsin once this season, getting beat by double digits vs Maryland and narrowly losing to Wisconsin at the Kohls Center. It’s important to note, however, that both of those losses were very early in the season and since that time, Rutgers has been playing solid basketball led by a stout defense ranked 44th in KenPom.
As we saw against the Iowa basketball team not too long ago, Rutgers size and length can cause quite a bit of an issue for teams.