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Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings: Feb. 18

Thanks to Isaiah Livers, Michigan is on the rise.

NCAA Basketball: Indiana at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Here are our Big Ten basketball power rankings for Feb. 18, 2019.

14. Northwestern (6-18 overall, 1-13 Big Ten), Last Week 14

The Wildcats have lost nine straight. They’ll make it 10 straight at Maryland this week.

13. Nebraska (7-18, 2-12), Last Week: 13

Losers of 10 straight, Nebraska will host a struggling Michigan State this week.

12. Minnesota (12-12, 6-8), Last Week: 12

Minnesota failed to defend home court against Iowa in a critical game for its slim NCAA Tournament hopes. It plays Indiana at home in a contest that will certainly be close.

11. Indiana (16-9, 6-8), Last Week: 11

IU earned a great home win over Iowa, but got clocked by Michigan in Ann Arbor over the weekend. It’s difficult to figure out what to make of this team, which has flashes of greatness but an awful lot of looking bad. Squarely on the bubble, the Hoosiers will need to find a way to win a few games on the road to close out the regular season.

10. Purdue (14-12, 7-8), Last Week: 9

Purdue gets the nod over IU for now because of its recent head-to-head win. The Boilermakers dropped two games last week though, and need to finish the regular season strong if it hopes to reach the big dance.

9. Illinois (16-9, 8-6), Last Week: 4

I wasn’t too worried about Illinois last week, but after another pair of losses to make it four straight, it’s hard not to be. The four-game stretch was brutal, with the losses coming to Iowa, Maryland, Michigan State and Rutgers, but two of those games were at home and the Illini could not pick up a win. This came down to Illinois vs. Wisconsin here, so I checked how each team fared in KenPom rankings. Wisconsin was ranked four spots higher, which pushed the Illini down to No. 9 this week.

8. Wisconsin (15-10, 8-6), Last Week: 7

The Badgers had a solid week with two more wins against Ohio State and Nebraska, both at home. They haven’t been dominant this season, but they can hang with anybody. Due to that lower perceived ceiling, it will take some big wins to move up substantially as the season nears its end.

7. Rutgers (18-8, 9-6), Last Week: 10

Rutgers hasn’t lost a game at home this season which is very impressive. Equally as impressive, and for the wrong reasons, is that it has only won one road game all year long. The Scarlet Knights remind me of Indiana in that regard, which makes it difficult to figure out truly how good this team is. They’ll face Michigan at home this week.

6. Ohio State (17-8, 7-7), Last Week: 8

I was surprised to see that Ohio State is extremely well regarded by KenPom, with the Buckeyes ranked No. 9 overall. KenPom also loves Maryland (8), Michigan State (10), Penn State (11) and Michigan (14). Two more wins last week have put OSU into a much better spot in the league standings, although some tall tasks still remain, starting with a road trip to Iowa this week.

5. Michigan State (17-9, 9-6), Last Week: 6

MSU is still a good team, despite blowing a seven-point lead late to Maryland and losing four of its last five games. However, those precise results are exactly why this team doesn’t deserve to be any higher on this list. Beating on Illinois on the road was a big win, and showed that the Spartans still are a tough out, despite their limitations.

4. Iowa (18-8, 9-6), Last Week: 3

Iowa lost a tough one in Bloomington, but rebounded with a road win at Minnesota. Luke Garza is a machine, averaging more than 23 points per game, but Indiana was able to shut down the rest of the Hawkeyes to win relatively easily. Other teams may start to pick up on that tactic, but this is still one of the better Iowa teams we’ve seen in recent years.

3. Michigan (16-9, 7-7), Last Week: 5

Michigan just edges out Iowa for this spot thanks to its No. 14 rank in KenPom compared to Iowa’s rank of No. 21. Last week, I was worried my high ranking for Michigan was just subconscious homerism. Not this week. Michigan proved that it is an entirely different team with a healthy Isaiah Livers and is a top three team in the league. The Wolverines have won five of their last six games and can further boost their resume this week with road trips to Rutgers and Purdue.

2. Penn State (20-5, 10-4), Last Week: 2

Penn State continues to exceed expectations and now needs to be taken seriously as a national title contender. A top 10 ranking is probably something you never thought you’d see with this program, but here we are. PSU has won eight straight and could make that 10 after games against Illinois and Indiana this week.

1. Maryland (21-4, 11-3), Last Week: 1

Maryland has also won eight straight games and is coming off a nice comeback win over MSU. Northwestern and OSU are on tap this week for the No. 7 team in the country, which for now, has a solid handle on the top spot in these rankings.