This past week of Big Ten play made these power rankings exponentially more difficult. Maryland got blown out by Michigan but then blew out Illinois. Indiana pulled off the most impressive win of its season against Purdue but then put up a clunker against Michigan. Even Rutgers knocked off Iowa prior to losing a stunner to Minnesota.
Needless to say, the middle of the conference is a jumbled mess. Let’s try and sort it out.
Previous Ranking: 1
It’s never fun losing to a rival. Purdue did just by falling victim to a court-storming at Assembly Hall in Indiana. Trevion Williams all but disappeared, scoring only two points in 15 minutes. That said, the Boilermakers bounced back nicely by thrashing Northwestern. I would have dropped Purdue to No. 2 if Illinois had had a clean week, but it couldn’t get the job done.
2. Illinois Fighting Illini 13-5 (6-2)
Previous Ranking: 2
Illinois had to play without Kofi Cockburn and the results were not great, to say the least. Illinois was blown out by Maryland, 81-65. It’s safe to say as Cockburn goes, so do the Fighting Illini. Surely everyone, especially Michigan fans, with have sympathy for Illinois losing a conference game without their all-conference center. Right? Right? ......
Previous Ranking: 5
Tom Izzo and company had their most impressive win to date, knocking off Wisconsin at the Kohl Center in Madison. With five players in double-digits and 43 points off the bench, this was as well-rounded a performance you’ll see this season. The Spartans are putting together a very solid season. It’s rare they don’t have a true go-to scorer, but the Spartans really don’t need one this year.
Previous Ranking: 3
Wisconsin said goodbye to its seven-game winning streak with an 86-74 defeat at the hands of Michigan State. Losing the rebound battle 39-20 will generally do that to you. Brad Davison helped out Johnny Davis with 22 points of his own, but the bench only scored a whopping seven points. Wisconsin will need to rebound quickly to keep pace with the top tier of the conference.
5. Ohio State Buckeyes 12-4 (5-2)
Previous Ranking: 4
The Buckeyes used their get-right game to get right, destroying IUPUI 83-37. Their only other game last week was canceled against Nebraska. Ohio State is still in a good spot moving forward.
Previous Ranking: 7
If you’ve been reading our power rankings every week, you know how torn I’ve been about Indiana. Well, I have some breaking news for you: the Hoosiers are still confusing. They knocked off Purdue at home thanks to a career game by Rob Phinisee. They then followed that up by being run off the floor by a desperate Michigan team. The talent is there but the consistency is clearly not.
Previous Ranking: 6
Iowa failed to show up last Wednesday against Rutgers, losing 48-46. It’s hard to beat anyone when your bench scores zero points. However, the Hawkeyes responded nicely with a 68-51 win over Penn State. At this point, I view Iowa as the Big Ten barometer. The Hawkeyes will beat bad teams with ease but will have trouble with the good teams.
8. Minnesota Golden Gophers 11-5 (2-5)
Previous Ranking: 10
Minnesota’s first game of the week was canceled but it did manage to beat Rutgers at home on Saturday afternoon, 68-65, despite being severely shorthanded. All year long this has been an up-and-down Golden Gopher team that’s hard to get a read on. The brand new coaching staff and roster has done a nice job keeping them out of the Big Ten cellar.
9. Rutgers Scarlet Knights 11-7 (5-3)
Previous Ranking: 9
I mentioned last week Rutgers needed to become more consistent. This week the Scarlet Knights were not that. They knocked off a good Iowa team but then couldn’t get the job done at Minnesota. The latter was the exact type of game Rutgers needs to win this year in order to make the tournament. This sure has all the makings of a bubble team to me.
Previous Ranking: 11
Juwan Howard finally saw signs of life from his Michigan program. A career game by Caleb Houstan and yet another stellar performance by Hunter Dickinson have finally given Michigan’s tourney hopes a pulse. There is still a long way to go, however, as the Wolverines dug themselves into a hole early in the season. The upward climb begins.
Previous Ranking: 8
Penn State had a rough week with its first game canceled and the second game proving less than friendly. Penn State fell to Iowa, 68-51. The schedule doesn’t get any easier, as the Nittany Lions travel to Indiana before hosting Iowa before heading to Wisconsin.
Previous Ranking: 12
Maryland looked dead in the water following its 83-64 defeat to Michigan. The offense was dysfunctional and the team lacked a true identity. How did the Terrapins respond to yet another disheartening loss? They took down Illinois. Even without Cockburn available this was a huge win for them, if anything just to regain confidence. Their NCAA Tournament chances are likely gone but this could be a team you don’t want to play down the stretch.
Previous Ranking: 13
Northwestern finished its top-10 gauntlet at 1-2 with losses to Wisconsin and Purdue. The Wildcats put up a fight against Wisconsin but the wheels fell off late at Purdue. They will try to stop the bleeding on Wednesday night in Ann Arbor.
Previous Ranking: 14
Nebraska’s only game last week was canceled against Ohio State. Barring a late scheduling change, the Cornhuskers will have gone 10 days without playing a game prior to hosting Wisconsin on Thursday. Hey, at least they didn’t lose this week.