Here’s our Big Ten basketball power rankings for Jan. 21, 2019.
14. Northwestern (6-11 overall, 1-6 Big Ten), Last Week 14
Northwestern hung tough with Illinois on the road but it’s still clear that this team belongs at the bottom of the rankings.
13. Nebraska (7-11, 2-5), Last Week: 13
Nebraska isn’t much better than Northwestern, if it’s even better at all. These two squads are clearly the two worst teams in the conference this season and that won’t be changing.
12. Purdue (10-8, 3-4), Last Week: 11
Purdue couldn’t pull off another upset at Maryland after topping MSU. Each of the top 12 teams in the Big Ten have a legitimate chance to make the NCAA Tournament, so while this is a poor rankings within the league, the Purdue’s and Minnesota’s of the world still are very much alive for a trip to the big dance.
11. Minnesota (10-8, 4-4), Last Week: 12
Minnesota earned a nice home victory over Penn State before falling to Rutgers on the road. It’s a one-man show for the Gophers, thanks to big man Daniel Oturu.
10. Ohio State (12-6, 2-5), Last Week: 10
It’s been a nightmare month of January for the Buckeyes. They have just one win since Dec. 21, and that was a home win against Nebraska. They must get back on track this week against Minnesota and Northwestern.
9. Michigan (11-6, 2-4), Last Week: 5
January hasn’t exactly been kind to Michigan either. The Wolverines have lost two straight road games, but now have a huge opportunity to string some wins together with four of their next six games coming at home and a neutral site game against Rutgers.
8. Penn State (13-5, 3-4), Last Week: 7
Penn State has been all over my rankings throughout the season, even getting as high as No. 2. This seems more likely as a finishing spot for the Nittany Lions, though. They’ve lost three of their last four, but the win was a big one over Ohio State. This is still a tournament team, but there is a wide range of possible outcomes.
7. Illinois (13-5, 5-2), Last Week: 3
I think I was too eager to buy the hype last week on Illinois, so dropping the Illini isn’t so much a reflection on them but a correction on my part. Other teams like Iowa and Rutgers deserve to be ranked higher. Illinois has taken care of business with an easy schedule of late. I’ll be impressed if it can beat Purdue and Michigan, both on the road.
6. Indiana (14-4, 4-3), Last Week: 6
The Hoosiers split a pair of road games last week at Rutgers and Nebraska. They’re a frustrating team because they could be even better than their record suggests, but offensive droughts have limited their ceiling. IU has a chance for a massive boost up this week with home games against Michigan State and Maryland.
5. Rutgers (14-4, 5-2), Last Week: 8
Rutgers defended its home court last week, beating Indiana and Minnesota. That was enough to send the Scarlet Knights into the top 25, at No. 24. A big road test at Iowa looms.
4. Wisconsin (11-7, 4-3), Last Week: 4
Wisconsin followed up a win against Penn State with a win over Maryland. This is a dangerous team that will end up back in the Big Ten title mix.
3. Iowa (13-5, 4-3), Last Week: 9
I haven’t shown any faith in Iowa recently, but it’s time I show them some respect. Iowa has beaten Maryland, Northwestern (road game) and Michigan in its last three games and features one of the conference’s best players in Luke Garza. Can the Hawkeyes stay near the top? I’m not sure.
2. Maryland (14-4, 4-4), Last Week: 2
Maryland is 11-0 at home and 0-4 on the road, which seems about right for the Big Ten this year. The Terps have two winnable road games this week at Northwestern and Indiana, so I expect that 0-4 record to change.
1. Michigan State (14-4, 6-1), Last Week: 1
MSU got back on track by beating Wisconsin last week. It’s clear the Spartans are the Big Ten’s best team once again. They face road tests at Indiana and Minnesota this week.