The regular season is over, which means the best part of the college basketball season is upon us. Michigan State and Purdue shared the regular season Big Ten title, but do those teams finish Nos. 1 and 2 in our final Big Ten power rankings of the season?
14. Northwestern (13-18, 4-16), Last Week: 14
It just wasn’t Northwestern’s year. The Wildcats lost 11 of their last 12 games.
13. Nebraska (16-15, 6-14), Last Week: 13
Nebraska’s season-ending win against Iowa would feel more impressive if Iowa hadn’t been losing to seemingly everyone in recent weeks. It’s not quite enough to jump Illinois.
12. Illinois (11-20, 7-13), Last Week: 11
The Illini had a much better Big Ten season than many probably expected after such a horrific non-conference record.
11. Rutgers (14-16, 7-13), Last Week: 12
Rutgers isn’t the worst team, or even the second or third worst team in the league, which for Rutgers, I suppose, is progress.
10. Penn State (14-17, 7-13), Last Week: 10
Penn State is surprisingly ahead of Indiana, Ohio State and Minnesota in the NCAA’s NET rankings. It’s oh so close to surpassing the Buckeyes here, but I am just not ready to do that yet.
9. Ohio State (18-13, 8-12), Last Week: 7
Ohio State has fallen quite far in the last few games of the season. The suspension of Kaleb Wesson killed this team, which could very well miss the big dance if it doesn’t beat Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament.
8. Minnesota (19-12, 9-11), Last Week: 8
Minnesota picked up a huge win over Purdue to likely seal its bid to the NCAA Tournament. A close road loss to Maryland to end the year is nothing to be ashamed about. Penn State, however, is a tough first opponent in the conference tourney.
7. Indiana (17-14, 8-12), Last Week: 9
The Hoosiers have been on fire since the last edition of these rankings. IU is arguably the hottest team in the Big Ten and has won its last four games, two of which were against Michigan State and Wisconsin. The overall record isn’t pretty, but Indiana has impressive wins (MSU twice, Marquette, Louisville, Wisconsin, Butler) that should get this team in the big dance with a win over Ohio State.
6. Iowa (21-10, 10-10), Last Week: 6
Iowa has looked really bad of late, losing its final four games. The Hawkeyes are probably still in the tournament, but they need to win their first Big Ten Tournament game to be sure.
5. Maryland (22-9, 13-7), Last Week: 4
Maryland dropped games to Penn State and Michigan, but ended the season with a win versus Minnesota and seem poised to be a No. 5 or 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
4. Wisconsin (22-9, 14-6), Last Week: 5
Wisconsin jumps Maryland after winning its last three games. The Badgers should be considered threats to win this week’s conference tourney.
3. Purdue (23-8, 16-4), Last Week: 3
Likely the most surprising team of 2019, Purdue blew its chance at an out-right title by losing to Minnesota, but did clinch a share of the Big Ten regular season crown. I still feel this team is a tad overrated, but I’ll let Purdue’s NCAA Tournament performance determine that.
2. Michigan (26-5, 15-5), Last Week: 2
It’s been a great year for Michigan basketball, but losing the conference to Michigan State does sting. The funny thing is Michigan likely ended up on the easier side of the conference tournament bracket and could face MSU a third time in the Big Ten title game. A trip to Sunday’s game is needed to stay on the two-seed line, otherwise a No. 3 seed is likely.
1. Michigan State (25-6, 16-4), Last Week: 1
The Spartans took care of business when it mattered most, sweeping the Wolverines. It’s an incredible coaching job by Tom Izzo, who has his team positioned to claim a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament if it can win the Big Ten Tournament. At worst, MSU is a two-seed.