Here’s our Big Ten basketball power rankings for Jan. 28, 2019.
14. Northwestern (6-13 overall, 1-8 Big Ten), Last Week 14
Not even a struggling Ohio State team could lose at Northwestern.
13. Nebraska (7-13, 2-7), Last Week: 13
Nebraska lucks out with Zavier Simpson suspended for tonight’s game. Even though it’s on the road, it would be a truly brutal loss for Michigan.
12. Michigan (11-8, 2-6), Last Week: 9
January has been a complete and utter disaster for the Wolverines. They’ve lost four straight games, are without Isaiah Livers again after he was re-injured against Illinois and now is without senior point guard Zavier Simpson. U-M needs to win two of its next three games (at Nebraska, vs. Rutgers, vs. Ohio State) or its NCAA Tournament hopes will be in big trouble.
11. Ohio State (13-7, 3-6), Last Week: 10
Ohio State broke its six-game losing streak by beating Northwestern, but there are still big problems here. Who could’ve imagined that both Michigan and Ohio State would have fallen the way they have.
10. Minnesota (11-9, 5-5), Last Week: 11
Minnesota beat Ohio State to jump the Buckeyes, but couldn’t handle Michigan State. Firmly on the bubble, the Gophers will have plenty of chances for big wins.
9. Purdue (11-9, 4-5), Last Week: 12
This three-spot rise isn’t exactly a reflection on Purdue, but rather the collapses of teams like Michigan and OSU. That being said, the Boilermakers did take down Wisconsin by 19.
8. Wisconsin (12-8, 5-4), Last Week: 4
Wisconsin is a difficult team to rank given its up-and-down nature. It has been impressive at home, but stumbled on the road (sounds like every Big Ten team, I know) and is coming off a big loss to Purdue.
7. Rutgers (15-5, 6-3), Last Week: 5
Rutgers continues to be one of the surprise darlings of college basketball. It stayed ranked after a loss to Iowa and win over Nebraska. I’m not sure I fully believe in this team yet, but it deserves respect.
6. Penn State (14-5, 4-4), Last Week: 8
Penn State picked up a pair of wins it probably wishes came in football, beating Ohio State and Michigan on the road. The wins are much needed for the Nittany Lions after a recent slide and puts them back in the rankings at No. 24.
5. Indiana (15-5, 5-4), Last Week: 6
Indiana was quite literally one minute away from having a case to be No. 1 in these rankings, but collapsed in the final minute versus Maryland, preventing the Hoosiers from knocking off Michigan State and Maryland in the same week. Still, IU outplayed MSU and showed it belongs in the top group of teams in the Big Ten.
4. Iowa (14-5, 5-3), Last Week: 3
Iowa earned a pair of nice wins last week, beating Michigan and Rutgers at home. The Hawkeyes have an explosive offense and have shown they can hang with any team in the league.
3. Michigan State (15-5, 7-2), Last Week: 1
Michigan State suffered another loss on the road last week, this time to Indiana. Now, losing at Assembly Hall is perfectly reasonable and the rebound win at Minnesota is great, but at the moment I think both Maryland and Illinois are playing better basketball. That doesn’t mean MSU’s resume isn’t better, and I fully expect MSU to be right there for the top spot in a month, but given recent performances on the road, the Spartans aren’t No. 1.
2. Maryland (16-4, 6-3), Last Week: 2
Maryland essentially pulled an Indiana vs. MSU type of performance on Sunday, getting out to a big lead thanks to an offensive explosion to start the game, but then let the Hoosiers back into the game and appeared to be on track to lose when the Terps stormed back ahead in the final minute. Winning at IU is impressive and if the offense can resemble anything close to what it was in the first half, this is a team to watch out for.
1. Illinois (15-5, 7-2), Last Week: 7
Safe to say nobody saw this coming at the beginning of the year. In fact, I even pumped the breaks on the Illini last week, dropping them in these rankings. However, they have now won six straight games including two extremely impressive road victories against Purdue and Michigan. Their recent performance on the road is what separates Illinois from Maryland and MSU. We’ll see how long the Illini can keep this up.