After another wild week of Big Ten basketball, we’re starting to see some separation between teams. Here’s our fourth edition of the league’s power rankings:
14. Illinois (5-14, 1-7), Last Week: 13
Illinois followed up its first conference win with two blowout losses. Back to the bottom they go.
13. Penn State (7-12, 0-8), Last Week: 12
Despite being the only Big Ten team without a conference win, I still don’t view the Nittany Lions as a worse team than Illinois. Their schedule has been tough, so I’ll need to see at least one win soon, otherwise PSU will take over the bottom spot.
12. Rutgers (9-9, 2-6), Last Week: 14
I bumped Rutgers to No. 12 a couple weeks ago after beating Ohio State, then dropped the Knights back to No. 14 just for them to pick up another win against Nebraska. Is this a terrible team with a little luck? Or is this team finally marginally better than prior years?
11. Ohio State (12-6, 2-5), Last Week: 10
What a dumpster fire the Buckeyes have been of late. Losers of five straight, they might not win their next game until February with road trips to Nebraska and Michigan on deck.
10. Northwestern (12-7, 3-5), Last Week: 11
The Wildcats picked up a big win over a depleted Indiana team, which is enough to jump OSU. I’m just not buying that this team is that good though, so it stays behind the Hoosiers in these rankings.
9. Indiana (12-7, 3-5), Last Week: 6
Like Ohio State, IU has been a mess over the last few weeks, losing five in a row. Injuries have been a giant problem, as well as the recent suspension of Devonte Green, but the Hoosiers need to get back on track or they’ll be on the wrong side of the bubble.
8. Nebraska (13-6, 3-5), Last Week: 5
Nebraska has to be one of the most confusing teams in the league. It beat IU at Assembly Hall, but loses to Rutgers? Not sure what to think here.
7. Minnesota (14-5, 4-4), Last Week: 8
Another confusing team, Minnesota went from being blown out by Illinois to barely losing at Michigan. There’s talent here, and the Gophers will present an interesting resume come tournament time, but there needs to be more consistency.
6. Iowa (16-4, 5-4), Last Week: 4
I was so ready to boost the Hawkeyes up to the No. 3 spot, but then they collapsed at home against Michigan State. The schedule has been spectacularly easy compared to the rest of the Big Ten, so maybe this team isn’t as strong as its AP Poll ranking (19) indicates.
5. Wisconsin (13-6, 5-3), Last Week: 9
Wisconsin picked up a monster win, beating Michigan last weekend. The Badgers proved they aren’t going anywhere and will continue to be a factor in the Big Ten race.
4. Purdue (13-6, 6-2), Last Week: 7
The Boilermakers are red-hot. Winners of four straight, they can really make a statement when they face MSU at home this Sunday.
3. Maryland (16-4, 7-2), Last Week: 3
Despite a loss to MSU, the Terrapins are proving to be one of the tougher outs in the league. Anthony Cowan Jr. and Bruno Fernando are a lethal combo.
2. Michigan State (18-2, 9-0), Last Week: 2
Michigan State has a very legitimate claim to be No. 1. The Spartans have won 13 straight, including beat-downs of Maryland and Iowa, and are without a doubt one of the hottest teams in the country - if not the hottest. However, I’m just not ready to say this team is better than Michigan, who I believe would beat MSU head-to-head.
1. Michigan (18-1, 7-1), Last Week: 1
Michigan fell back to earth this week, suffering its first loss of the season and surviving a scare against Minnesota. A loss was coming, and falling on the road to Wisconsin isn’t the worst way for it to happen. Michigan State might be a hotter team, but Michigan still has the better team - and the better overall record. It’s a razor-thin margin, but I’ll go with the Wolverines.