This week in the Big Ten was likely the most expected all season long with only one notable upset in Rutgers over Michigan State on Saturday afternoon. At this point, the teams’ positioning in these rankings are starting to solidify as we get nearer to the Big Ten Tournament.
Previous Ranking: 1
Purdue continued its run of dominance this week with an easy win over Minnesota and a quality win over a feisty Michigan team. The Wolverines threw everything they had at the Boilermakers but Jaden Ivey and company were able to take care of business. Purdue has now won five straight and hosts Illinois tonight in potentially the game of the season in the Big Ten.
2. Illinois Fighting Illini 17-5 (10-2)
Previous Ranking: 2
I’ve been higher on Illinois than many in the national media have been throughout the season and after the week it just had, I’ll continue to do so. The Fighting Illini’s handling of Wisconsin, 80-67, along with their dismantling of Indiana, 74-57, cemented their spot at No. 2 for me. With a win in tonight’s matchup with Purdue, Illinois would definitely be in the conversation for the top spot in our power rankings.
Previous Ranking: 4
By all accounts the Badgers had a bit of a rough week. They were unable to hang with Illinois, prior to a lackluster 51-49 win over Penn State. The win was lackluster in the truest sense of the word as the Badgers only scored 18 points in the first half to hold an 18-13 lead at the half. Offense was hard to come by. I still moved Wisconsin up a spot because a 1-1 week with a loss to a top two team in the conference was still better than Michigan State’s resume of late.
Previous Ranking: 3
Michigan State’s lack of a go-to scorer is starting to become a problem for the Spartans. They hung on to beat Maryland on the road thanks to Malik Hall’s game-winning layup, but were completely dismantled by Rutgers to the tune of an 84-63 loss. It’s back to the drawing board as the Spartans host Wisconsin tonight in a battle for the No. 3 spot in our power rankings.
5. Ohio State Buckeyes 14-5 (7-3)
Previous Ranking: 5
Ohio State’s first game this week with Iowa was canceled. The second featured a relatively easy win over Maryland. We mentioned last week the Buckeyes are in a relatively easy schedule compared to the rest of the top of the conference. So far so good.
Previous Ranking: 6
Indiana had a chance to make another big splash by hosting Illinois at home. The Hoosiers were unable to do so, losing 74-57. This should be a tournament team by all accounts, but they will have to play well down the stretch to avoid landing on the bubble.
Previous Ranking: 7
Iowa’s only game this week was a 71-59 win over Minnesota. Keegan Murray continued to show out with a 24-point performance along with 15 rebounds. Most prognosticators have Iowa as the seventh and final team from the Big Ten to make the big dance if the tournament started today. There appears to be a relatively large divide between the top seven teams in the conference and the bottom seven.
Previous Ranking: 8
Juwan Howard and company just hung on to beat a bad Nebraska team, 85-79, thanks to some late-game heroics. On Saturday, they gave Purdue everything they could handle, but fell just short thanks to an inability to defend the perimeter. At this point, Michigan is what it is: a team on the outside of the bubble looking in. Luckily for the Wolverines, there are plenty of opportunities for quality, Quad 1 wins left on the schedule. Whether or not they can win a few of those games remains to be seen.
9. Rutgers Scarlet Knights 13-9 (7-5)
Previous Ranking: 9
What a wild week for the Scarlet Knights. They started the week with an embarrassing, 79-78 overtime defeat to lowly Northwestern. I had them penciled in for a catastrophic fall in these power rankings. They then dismantled Michigan State by 21 points at home. I, for one, did not see that coming. Rutgers shot 62% from the field which is a good recipe to beat just about anyone at home.
Previous Ranking: 11
Penn State took part in the ugliest Big Ten game of the season, losing 51-49 to Wisconsin following a first half in which 31 total points were scored. The Nittany Lions wanted a rock fight and they got it. Unfortunately, it still wasn’t enough. Next up is a date with Michigan tonight in Ann Arbor.
11. Minnesota Golden Gophers 11-9 (2-9)
Previous Ranking: 10
Minnesota continued to go winless in their Big Ten schedule gauntlet, losing to both Purdue and Iowa this week. After a relatively hot start to conference play, Minnesota has fallen off a bit with very little chance of making it back.
Previous Ranking: 13
For the first time in a while, Northwestern climbed out of the No. 13 spot thanks to a 2-0 week. The Wildcats took down both Rutgers and Nebraska to double their Big Ten win total on the year. Chris Collins will look to use this momentum to finish the year strong in Evanston.
Previous Ranking: 12
Maryland hung tough with Michigan State before eventually falling. The wheels then fell off at Ohio State to the tune of an 82-67 defeat. With the season starting to wind down, it’s a two-team race between Michigan and Maryland for the title of most disappointing Big Ten team.
Previous Ranking: 14
Nebraska gave Michigan everything it could handle prior to falling late. This has become a common theme for the Cornhuskers as they have been competitive of late with no results. A crushing defeat to Northwestern on Saturday may have been the final nail in the coffin to guarantee that Nebraska remains in last for the remainder of the season.