Only a few weeks remain in the regular season and a couple teams are starting to heat up while others fade. Here are our Big Ten basketball power rankings for Feb. 25, 2019.
14. Northwestern (6-20 overall, 1-15 Big Ten), Last Week 14
After a 26-point home loss to Minnesota, it feels like the Wildcats have just given up.
13. Nebraska (7-19, 2-13), Last Week: 13
The next time we have a set of power rankings, either Nebraska or Northwestern will have broken their 11-game losing streak.
12. Minnesota (13-13, 7-9), Last Week: 12
Minnesota broke a three-game losing streak by clubbing Northwestern, but barring an unbelievable finish to the year, Minnesota won’t be headed to the Big Dance.
11. Purdue (14-14, 7-10), Last Week: 10
After four straight losses to tournament teams, Purdue appears to be on the outside looking in. It probably needs to win all three of its remaining regular season games against Indiana, Iowa and Rutgers, to claim a spot on the right side of the bubble.
10. Rutgers (18-10, 9-8), Last Week: 7
Rutgers had been showing signs of faltering in recent weeks, and it was Michigan that finally knocked off the Scarlet Knights in their home building for the first time this season. They’ve lost five of their last seven games and are in danger of dropping even more games with trips to Penn State and Purdue and a home date with Maryland left on the slate.
9. Indiana (18-9, 8-8), Last Week: 11
For a moment it seemed like IU was going to collapse and fall on the wrong side of the bubble. Now, barring something like losing out, the Hoosiers are safely in the NCAA Tournament field thanks to wins over Minnesota and Penn State.
8. Illinois (17-9, 9-6), Last Week: 9
Illinois righted the ship by beating Penn State on the road. It’s an important victory ahead of a pair of should be wins against Northwestern and Nebraska this week.
7. Wisconsin (17-10, 10-6), Last Week: 8
The Badgers have benefited from a relatively easier schedule over the last couple weeks, which has resulted in a four-game winning streak. They have a tough game at Michigan this week, before another pair of home games.
6. Ohio State (18-9, 8-8), Last Week: 6
The Buckeyes appear to be looking more like the team we saw in December than January. Back in the AP top 25, it looks like writers around the country are seeing the same thing. All eyes will be on a March 1 date with Michigan.
5. Michigan State (18-9, 10-6), Last Week: 5
MSU took out Nebraska as it should have and now faces an absolute gauntlet to end the regular season: vs. Iowa, at Maryland, at Penn State and vs. Ohio State. Finishing 2-2 would be solid for the Spartans.
4. Iowa (19-8, 10-6), Last Week: 4
Iowa enters this week after a couple home wins against Minnesota and Ohio State. It battles Michigan State this week in a game that could have major Big Ten title implications.
3. Penn State (20-7, 10-6), Last Week: 2
After rising to No. 9 in the polls this week, Penn State came back down to Earth a bit with losses to Illinois and Indiana. A critical home game is up next against Rutgers, before traveling to Iowa. A strong finish could still put the Nittany Lions within striking distance of a conference title, should Maryland stumble.
2. Michigan (18-9, 9-7), Last Week: 3
Last week, I pounded my chest a bit after being right about the Wolverines belonging in the upper echelon of Big Ten teams. After last week’s results, I firmly believe that Michigan is the second-best team in the conference when healthy. Winners of five in a row and seven of its last eight, Michigan has put itself back in position to get something more like a No. 4 or 5 seed in the big dance and could be a hot pick to win the Big Ten tourney. KenPom has U-M at No. 11 nationally, one spot behind Maryland and somewhat surprisingly, three spots behind MSU and one spot ahead of OSU.
1. Maryland (22-5, 12-4), Last Week: 1
Maryland has long held onto the top spot in these rankings, and for good reason. The Terps lost a tough one to OSU on the road, but it’s hard to punish teams too much for losing on the road, and Maryland still has by far the best resume. The Terps will face both Michigan and Michigan State before the end of the regular season, and are headed for the regular season conference title.