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Big Ten Power Rankings: Middle teams keep beating each other up

There are nine teams within a game of .500.

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten has been absolute chaos this season. Nine of the 14 teams in the conference are currently within a game of .500, and six teams are tied for third place at 7-5, including the Michigan Wolverines. With a few weeks to go, there are 10-11 teams still within reach of the NCAA Tournament.

Let’s take a peek at where the conference rankings are with so many teams still having a shot at the tourney:

No. 14: Minnesota Golden Gophers (Last week: 14)

Minnesota keeps losing, and in ugly fashion. It has dropped three games in a row by 20 points or more, including a 90-55 loss to Rutgers in Piscataway.

No. 13: Nebraska Cornhuskers (Last Week: 13)

Coming off an upset win over Penn State, the Cornhuskers are in position to move up a spot next week if they can beat Michigan or Wisconsin this week.

No. 12: Ohio State Buckeyes (Last week: 11)

The Buckeyes made it a 1-9 stretch in their last 10 games after losing to Michigan in Ann Arbor. It doesn’t get any easier because Northwestern, Michigan State, Iowa and Purdue are ahead. A few more losses and they are going to fall to the bottom two.

No. 11: Wisconsin Badgers (Last week: 10)

Offensive woes are plaguing the Wisconsin Badgers, dropping from their No. 2 ranking a few weeks ago to all the way down here at No. 11. They’ve only scored 60 points or more in one of their last four games. This team feels completely different from the one that competed with Marquette and Kansas earlier this season.

No. 10: Michigan Wolverines (Last week: 12)

It's starting to feel like Michigan has a shot at making things happen in 2023. The Wolverines handled Northwestern and Ohio State last week, and two of their next three games are very winnable against Nebraska and Wisconsin. They also host Indiana, which has been red hot. Kobe Bufkin has been great the last couple of games, which is a huge reason for the turnaround. Auxillary players need to continue to step up if Michigan wants to rack up enough wins to hear its name called on Selection Sunday.

No. 9: Penn State Nittany Lions (Last week: 7)

The Nittany Lions are an enigma. They dropped 83 points and hit 13 three-pointers against Michigan in a 83-61 win, but followed that up with a 20-point loss at Purdue and a loss at Nebraska. Now, they have been absolutely embarrassed in three of their last four. Many have them on the bubble, and they will need to get back to winning if they want to re-enter the tournament conversation.

No. 8: Northwestern Wildcats (Last week: 6)

Another bubble team is the Northwestern Wildcats, and they have had a tough two-week period. Because of a COVID delay, they had six games in two weeks and had a tough time against Iowa and Michigan. They beat Wisconsin by two points and only scored 54 in their last game. They have a chance to rebound against Ohio State, but the game is in Columbus. Then they host Purdue and Indiana. The road’s not getting any easier.

No. 7: Michigan State Spartans (Last week: 6)

The past few weeks have been tough for the Spartans. They’re 2-5 in their last seven games, but those games have come against Purdue (2L), Rutgers (W-L), Indiana (L), Indiana (L) and Iowa (W). Now they need to reassert themselves with against Maryland, Ohio State, Minnesota and Michigan.

No. 6: Iowa Hawkeyes (Last week: 8)

Don’t look now, but Iowa has won three in a row and seven of the last 10. The Hawkeyes go to Purdue and Minnesota this week and have a really soft schedule to end the season. They have a chance to be a top-five team in the conference by year’s end.

No. 5: Maryland Terrapins (Last week: 9)

Upsetting Indiana this week was the highlight of the Terp's Big Ten play thus far. They were also just three points away from beating Purdue in West Lafayette a couple weeks ago. That is their only loss since mid-January. Things are trending up for Maryland, which has a great chance to finish strong within the conference.

No. 4: Rutgers Scarlet Knights (Last Week: 4)

The Scarlet Knights have a massive week ahead. They’re on the road against Indiana and Illinois, two of the hottest teams in the conference. After that, their schedule cools off significantly. They are almost assuredly a middle seed in the tournament but if they want to be on the upper end of that, they’ll need to win one or both of those games to impress the committee.

No. 3: Illinois Fighting Illini (Last week: 3)

The Illini suffered a tough loss on the road against Iowa this week. They’re still one of the most talented programs in the conference. Matthew Mayer has been on a tear lately, averaging 16.1 points per game. The Baylor transfer is going to play a huge part in this team’s success down the stretch. Illinois’ game with Minnesota this week has been postponed because of COVID within the Golden Gophers program. They’ll get some rest before a big one at home against Rutgers this weekend.

No. 2: Indiana Hoosiers (Last week: 2)

Yes, Indiana beat Purdue, but they are not all of a sudden the No. 1 team in the Big Ten. Bloomington is one of the most difficult places to play in the country, and the Hoosiers rightfully defend their home court well. The Hoosiers lost at College Park against Maryland earlier in the week to end a five-game winning streak. As long as Trayce Jackson-Davis continues to post the 25.3 points and 13.7 rebounds per game he has kept over their last six, they are going to be a really tough out come tournament time.

No. 1: Purdue Boilermakers (Last week: 1)

How good are the Boilermakers? They lost after giving up 50-first half points on the road against Indiana and STILL maintained the No. 1 spot in this week’s AP Poll. Even in the loss, Zach Edey posted 33 points and 18 rebounds. I’m struggling to see what team in the country is going to be able to slow him down. Purdue should bounce back this week against Iowa and Northwestern. Then, a rematch against the Hoosiers awaits at the end of the month, this time in West Lafayette.