We are eight days away from the start of the Big Ten Tournament. After a wild ride, the finish line is finally in sight. Yesterday, we discussed where a few Big Ten teams fit on the NCAA tournament bubble. Today, let’s take a look at how each of the schools stack up in our latest power rankings.
1. Michigan Wolverines
This has become a no-brainer as time has gone on. While the Wolverines’ only loss this season at Minnesota doesn’t appear as good of a loss as it used to, Michigan is firing on all cylinders. After seeing most teams struggle to resume play following COVID-related pauses, Michigan struggled for a half at most followed by five straight convincing wins.
2. Illinois Fighting Illini
Losing Ayo Dosunmu to injury has hurt the Illini’s chances of winning a conference title, but they remain a force to be reckoned with come tournament time. Assuming Dosunmu returns to play soon, a 1 seed is still in play. In order to win the regular season Big Ten title, Illinois will need to win out and hope Michigan State can sweep back-to-back games against Michigan.
3. Iowa Hawkeyes
Iowa’s four-game winning streak was snuffed out by a red-hot Michigan team. However, with a resounding 73-57 bounce-back win at Ohio State, the Hawkeyes have placed themselves back into the 1 seed conversation. Iowa’s defense will certainly have to improve in order for them to be a legit title contender.
4. Ohio State Buckeyes
Ten days ago, Ohio State was riding high, having won seven straight and being ranked No. 4 in the country. Fast forward to today and the Buckeyes have lost three straight and are searching for answers. While still a good team nationally, the past week has shown teams with size may be an issue for Ohio State.
5. Wisconsin Badgers
With a few exceptions, Wisconsin has beaten every team it was supposed to beat this season while struggling mightily against the top competition. They have failed to provide much resistance against Michigan and Illinois, which doesn’t bode well should they make it past the first weekend of the NCAA tournament.
6. Purdue Boilermakers
Purdue seems to be the forgotten team in the Big Ten this season. The Boilermakers have quietly put together the fourth-best record in Big Ten play mostly due to the All-Big Ten level play by Trevion Williams. They have a great opportunity to impress the selection committee with remaining games against Wisconsin and Indiana.
7. Maryland Terrapins
A few weeks ago, Maryland was clearly sitting on the outside looking in for the NCAA Tournament. Having won five straight, the Terrapins are now on most projected brackets. Additionally, they have a somewhat easy schedule down the stretch. How Maryland performs in the Big Ten Tournament will be paramount.
8. Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Rutgers put a major dent in Indiana’s tournament resume by coming back from 15 down to defeat the Hoosiers. Rutgers should be a tournament team, however getting embarrassed by Nebraska last night without their best player doesn’t help. Geo Baker went from winning Big Ten Player of the Week to scoring 4 points on 2-of-10 shooting. Last night’s loss could now force the committee to rethink about if Rutgers is actually deserving of a bid.
9. Michigan State Spartans
Many had written off the Spartans over a month ago. Leave it to Tom Izzo to bring his team back onto the bubble come March, thanks to gigantic wins against Illinois and Ohio State. A disappointing loss at Maryland slowed their momentum but they have a chance to solidify their position tonight vs. Indiana.
10. Indiana Hoosiers
It’s safe to say Archie Miller and the Hoosiers are not peaking at the right time. Having lost four of their last five, the Hoosiers need to right the ship immediately in order to have a chance at the tournament. Luckily, their schedule is adept to it with a massive tilt against Michigan State tonight and a trip to Purdue on Saturday.
11. Minnesota Golden Gophers
When Minnesota beat Michigan handily back in mid-January, the Gophers felt like a team to be reckoned with. Since that game, Minnesota has lost eight of its last 10, including five straight. They still have an outside chance of making the tournament but it would require a deep run into the Big Ten Tournament, which seems doubtful at this point.
12. Penn State Nittany Lions
Advanced metrics love Penn State. Unfortunately, their record doesn’t follow suit. Torvik has the Nittany Lions at 50th in the country, ahead of both Minnesota and Michigan State. However, it’s hard to argue with a 5-12 conference record.
13. Northwestern Wildcats
Northwestern finally snapped its 13-game losing streak with a victory over Minnesota last Thursday. Unfortunately (and somewhat obviously) this will be too little, too late for the Wildcats.
14. Nebraska Cornhuskers
The Cornhuskers have shown signs of life as of late, but there is still a long way to go before Fred Hoiberg and company are relevant. It doesn’t help Teddy Allen, their leading scorer, decided to leave the program yesterday. How did they respond? The Huskers beat Rutgers by 21. I didn’t see that coming!