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Big Ten Power Rankings: Northwestern just keeps on winning

An upset over No. 1 Purdue adds to an already impressive season for the Wildcats.

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Northwestern David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

We are in mid-February and the Big Ten still has 12 teams competing for a spot in the NCAA Tournament. There are about two and a half weeks left until the Big Ten Tournament to get this all sorted out, and teams like the Michigan Wolverines are running out of time.

How are we going to sort this all out? We’ll give it a shot in this week’s conference power rankings:

No. 14: Minnesota Golden Gophers (Last week: 14)

Minnesota hasn’t won in more than a month. Nuff said.

No. 13: Ohio State Buckeyes (Last week: 12)

It’s hard to imagine this team was once ranked. Ohio State has won just two games in 2023 after starting 9-3. The Buckeyes only scored 41 points, at home, against a Michigan State team that has been struggling.

No. 12: Nebraska Cornhuskers (Last Week: 13)

The Cornhuskers make their first upward movement in weeks as they finally move ahead of Ohio State. Lincoln has been a tough place for opponents to play all season, and they have won three of their last four at home.

No. 11: Penn State Nittany Lions (Last week: 9)

I truly believe Penn State can compete with anyone in the country because of the way it shoots the basketball. However, the Nittany Lions have lost their last six games away from Happy Valley and have scored more than 70 points in just one of those games. It seems like the steam is running out from a Penn State squad that once appeared to be a contender.

No. 10: Wisconsin Badgers (Last week: 11)

The Badgers have not been playing well over the past month. Their last four wins have come against a struggling Penn State squad twice, Ohio State and Minnesota. After this weekend’s loss to Nebraska, they’ll need to win a couple to get back in the committee’s good graces.

No. 9: Michigan Wolverines (Last week: 10)

Another opportunity was squandered for Michigan after falling to Indiana at home. Still, the Wolverines have been playing better over the last few weeks, but they can’t afford to lose many more. An emotional week is ahead with a game in Madison and then back at home against the Spartans. It’s time to find out if this team has the leadership to win when they need it more than ever.

No. 8: Iowa Hawkeyes (Last week: 6)

If it weren’t for a miserable first half in Bloomington, Iowa would have had a shot at taking down Purdue. The Hawkeyes scored 52 points in the second half, but poor defense allowed the Boilermakers to score 48 of their own. That’s been the problem with them all season and until they can shore up some of these defensive issues, I don’t see how they are going to keep up with the top of the Big Ten when both sides are playing well.

No. 7: Maryland Terrapins (Last week: 5)

Winning five of their last six, the Terps have probably sealed a spot in the NCAA Tournament. But in case they haven’t, they have got a shot against Purdue this week in College Park. The Boilermakers are playing their worst stretch of the season and beat this Maryland team by just three points in Bloomington a few weeks ago. Could another upset be brewing?

No. 6: Michigan State Spartans (Last week: 7)

Michigan State snapped a four-game winning streak that Maryland was on, and then went to Columbus and embarrassed Ohio State. The Spartans should win three in a row against Minnesota midweek before heading to Ann Arbor for a big one. If they go on a four-game winning streak of their own, they may sneak back into the top-five of our power rankings.

No. 5: Northwestern Wildcats (Last week: 8)

Coming off the massive win against Purdue, Northwestern is now tied for a second-place spot in the conference. They now host Indiana on Wednesday for a chance to take sole possession. The Wildcats’ magical season continues despite everyone trying to take away from them what has been an 18-7 start. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see this team ranked if they continue playing well.

No. 4: Rutgers Scarlet Knights (Last Week: 4)

I really like Rutgers, but going to Indiana and Illinois this week was just a little too much. To be fair, I’m not sure any team would be able to survive that in the conference unscathed. The Scarlet Knights have done enough to prove they are better than the teams behind them in the conference, but that margin is thin. Recovery should be in order against Nebraska and Wisconsin this week.

No. 3: Illinois Fighting Illini (Last week: 3)

Illinois’ win over Rutgers was technically an upset, but was kind of expected. Now the Illini head on the road this week to face Penn State, who shocked them on their home court earlier this season. Then, the Illini have their toughest test yet at Indiana.

No. 2: Indiana Hoosiers (Last week: 2)

We all saw Indiana walk out of Ann Arbor with a two-point win after holding Michigan scoreless for the final five minutes of action. The Hoosiers have now won three straight, two against top-25 opponents, and are closing the gap between themselves and the No. 1 team in the conference. Northwestern and Illinois await this week, and then a rematch with Purdue the following week. If they win these three, they will have done enough to take over the top spot.

No. 1: Purdue Boilermakers (Last week: 1)

Despite losing two of its last three, Purdue is still at the top. The biggest question mark about this team is how the freshmen guards play away from home. Fletcher Loyer and Braden Smith were a combined 2-for-13 from the field in the loss to Northwestern. That’s not going to cut it when the stakes are high, and the Boilermakers are competing for a Final Four run. Zach Edey has covered that problem up like a band-aid but if Purdue isn’t careful, it could cost it a Big Ten or National Championship.