Chaos ensued in the middle rounds of the Big Ten Tournament, as only one of the top four seeds reached the semifinals. Indiana was the talk of the town beating Michigan and Illinois, and had Iowa on the ropes before finally falling. In addition, Wisconsin and Illinois both suffered stunning defeats against inferior competition.
Everything changed in the final edition of our Big Ten hoops power rankings. See how everyone stacks up below.
Previous Ranking: 1
I’m aware it’s unorthodox to keep a team at the top of the rankings that neither won the regular season title nor the tournament title. However, I can’t in good faith jump Iowa all the way up to the top given the Hawkeyes were in the middle of the pack all season long. I also can’t bump up Illinois or Wisconsin given their putrid tournament performances. By process of elimination, this leaves the Boilermakers at the pinnacle. Matt Painter and Purdue are the No. 3 seed in the East and take on Yale.
Previous Ranking: 4
What a finish to the season for the Hawkeyes. Keegan Murray dominated down the stretch, leading Iowa to a Big Ten Tournament title. The Hawkeyes are arguably the hottest team in the country and are under-seeded as a 5 seed in the Midwest. Jordan Bohannon’s deep three to take the lead against Indiana with time winding down will likely be what everyone remembers from this year’s tournament. Next up for Iowa is a date with Richmond.
3. Illinois Fighting Illini 22-9 (15-5)
Previous Ranking: 2
Illinois entered the conference tournament riding a high, having won a share of the regular season title in the last game of conference play. Unfortunately, the Illini bowed out almost immediately, losing to Indiana in their first game following the double-bye. Illinois is a 4 seed in the Big Ten-heavy South region, facing Chattanooga in the first round.
Previous Ranking: 3
In a similar story to Illinois, Wisconsin was hot entering the conference tournament, Nebraska debacle aside. A disappointing effort saw the Badgers lose their first tournament game to a Michigan State team that didn’t even play its best game. On the bright side, Johnny Davis’s injury does not appear to be that serious. The Badgers open up their tournament against a veteran Colgate team as the 3 seed in the Midwest.
5. Ohio State Buckeyes 19-11 (12-8)
Previous Ranking: 5
Speaking of deflating, Ohio State was stunned by Penn State in its first game. Injuries have been part of the Buckeye’s story this year, but that’s still no excuse for the way they’ve been playing lately. Ohio State limps into the big dance as the 7 seed in the South region, facing off against a hot Loyola Chicago team, which will be a trendy upset pick.
Previous Ranking: 7
Michigan State has been plagued by inconsistency all year, but came to play in the conference tournament. The Spartans took care of business against Maryland before stunning Wisconsin in the quarterfinals. It’s tough to tell if this team is playing their best basketball or if they’ll revert back to their old habits as they open play against Foster Loyer and Davidson as the 7 seed in the West.
Previous Ranking: 6
The Wolverines continued their streak of alternating wins and losses by blowing a 17-point lead to a desperate Indiana team. Luckily, the selection committee rewarded Juwan Howard and company with an 11 seed in the South region and a matchup with Colorado State, arguably the worst 6 seed. Deserved or not, Michigan has one last chance to resurrect its season in the NCAA Tournament.
Previous Ranking: 9
Indiana played its best basketball of the season at the exact time it needed to. Following the bracket reveal, it became apparent the Hoosiers were one Andre Curbelo layup away from missing the field. The Hoosiers saved their season by coming back against Michigan and surviving Illinois. They’ll head to Dayton to take on a very solid Wyoming squad in a First Four matchup for the right to be a 12 seed.
9. Rutgers Scarlet Knights 18-13 (12-8)
Previous Ranking: 8
Speaking of bubble teams, Rutgers squeaked into the tournament despite not winning a Big Ten Tournament game. The Scarlet Knights couldn’t hang with a hot Iowa team in their only matchup. They’ll take on Notre Dame in a First Four game to decide who takes on Alabama as an 11 seed.
Previous Ranking: 10
Penn State was a momentary feel-good story in the conference tournament, handling Minnesota and Ohio State before finally falling to Purdue in a surprisingly close game. Overall, the Nittany Lions were about what we expected this season. They were never cellar-dwellers in the conference but never posed a threat to make the NCAA Tournament either.
Previous Ranking: 11
Maryland concluded an incredibly disappointing season with a rematch loss to Michigan State. It’s amazing how far the Terrapins fell from pre-season expectations. An important offseason awaits as a historic Maryland program needs restoring.
Previous Ranking: 12
Northwestern took care of Nebraska in an anticipated result prior to being demolished by Iowa. A trend of lofty aspirations followed by severe disappointment seems to be forming in Evanston. Time will tell if that holds true again next season.
13. Minnesota Golden Gophers 13-17 (4-16)
Previous Ranking: 13
Minnesota couldn’t compete with Penn State in the opening round matchup of the conference tournament. The Golden Gophers will look to build off of their hot start next season. For now, that’s all she wrote for this Minnesota team.
Previous Ranking: 14
For large stretches of the season, I thought this could be a historically bad Nebraska team. A hot streak near the end tempered any talk of history in the wrong way. Make no mistake, this was not a good version of Nebraska basketball, but the Cornhuskers have some building blocks to start with next year.