By Michael McCurdy
With one week left in Big Ten play and roughly two weeks until the conference tournament, the time seems appropriate for field-hockey power rankings.
1. Maryland (13-3, 6-1 Big Ten)
The Terrapins are one of the best teams in the country, in fact possibly the best. Their three losses have been to two top-five teams, Syracuse and Duke, and on the road versus Northwestern. Other than that, they have taken care of business with one of the toughest schedules in the country.
2. Penn State (13-2, 5-2 Big Ten)
This Nittany Lions are very good — if it were not for their home loss to the Terrapins, they would be No. 1 in the power rankings. They are the most talented offensive team in the conference — not many teams can score 4 goals against Maryland or come back against Iowa by getting 4 back-to-back goals.
3. Iowa (11-6, 3-4 Big Ten)
Iowa has the best offensive weapon in the Big Ten in forward Natalie Cafone. She can affect the game offensively in so many different ways. The Hawkeyes have struggled closing out games this year, but they seem to be playing their best ball at the right time.
4. Michigan (10-6, 5-3 Big Ten)
Michigan may have beaten the Hawkeyes, but it was after Iowa’s most emotional win of the year defeating Northwestern on the road. Head-to-head on any other day, the Hawkeyes come away with the win. The Wolverines are talented, just not as good as they need to be offensively and defensively to rank in top tier of teams with Penn State and Maryland.
5. Northwestern (11-6, 4-3 Big Ten)
The Wildcats were unbeatable this year at home, defeating the Big Ten top dogs Maryland and Penn State. It was a different story when Iowa and Michigan rolled into town; they were not able to defend their home turf and as a result sit at No. 5 in the power rankings when they could be No. 1 if they just finished in Evanston.
6. Indiana (8-9, 3-4 Big Ten)
Let’s get one thing straight — the Big Ten is one of the best in field hockey, so even though this Hoosier squad sits at No. 6, they still are capable of beating any team in the Big Ten. Indiana has beaten Northwestern and Michigan but has failed to win games against weaker schools, such as Ohio State and Miami (Ohio).
7. Michigan State (8-9, 3-4 Big Ten)
The Spartans have struggled with most of the quality teams in the Big Ten, but they did defeat Indiana at home, 1-0. As with most of the teams in the conference, Michigan State has the talent, it just doesn’t always put it together in the biggest games. That’s why it finds itself near the bottom of these rankings. Win a couple games, and it moves up.
8. Rutgers (9-7, 2-5 Big Ten)
Rutgers has played some of the tougher Big Ten schools close but failed to finish when it mattered most. A game in which that was not the case took place in Iowa City, when the Scarlet Knights upset the Hawkeyes.
9. Ohio State (6-10, 1-6 Big Ten)
Even though the Buckeyes are last in the power rankings, they are no cakewalk. They recently defeated Indiana and took Maryland to overtime, while only losing to Michigan in Ann Arbor by 1 goal.
Follow @MMcurd for more information on Iowa field hockey.