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Big Ten Power Rankings: Indiana, Northwestern come up short of dethroning Purdue

Both have beaten the Boilermakers in the last two weeks.

Syndication: Journal-Courier Alex Martin/Journal and Courier / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Indiana Hoosiers finished off a season sweep of Purdue over the weekend. Just a week ago, Northwestern also upset the Boilermakers in Evanston. However, neither did enough this week to actually push themselves past Purdue and earn the No. 1 spot in our Big Ten Power Rankings.

Somehow, the Boilermakers were so dominant at the start of the year that their 2-4 record in their last six games doesn’t impact their overall seeding. But the panic button has definitely been pushed in West Lafayette, as the Boilermakers attempt to right the ship prior to the Big Ten Tournament and beyond.

Here’s where all the teams in the conference stack up.

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

Minnesota has not had a game that was within 10 points by the final buzzer since Jan. 25. It Far and away the worst team in the conference.

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

Congratulations are in order for the Buckeyes, who earned their first Big Ten win since mid-January this week. A 72-60 upset over Illinois may have actually helped Michigan, which faces the Illini Thursday.

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

The Cornhuskers deserve a lot of credit for how they have turned their season around. They’re on a four-game winning streak and are trying to be a Cinderella story candidate heading into the Big Ten Tournament. I wouldn’t want to see them in Chicago.

No. 11: Penn State Nittany Lions (Last week: 10)

The Nittany Lions are so hot-and-cold. They narrowly escaped at Ohio State and then scored just 56 points in a three-point loss to a fumbling Rutgers squad. Their offensive output is either elite or horrendous, and there is not much in between. They’ll need great play from Jalen Pickett and their shooters this week and in the Big Ten Tournament to get back into the big dance.

No. 10: Wisconsin Badgers (Last week: 9)

The only difference between Wisconsin and Michigan is the Badgers have pulled out some of their close games. They are really hanging onto their “road win” over Marquette in Milwaukee. Without that, I’m not sure they would have much ground to stand in their tournament hopes. They face Purdue this week at home in a game that could very much determine their fate.

No. 9: Michigan Wolverines (Last week: 11)

Even without Jett Howard, Michigan has turned its season around. Winning six of their last eight, the Wolverines are right back on the bubble. This week won’t be easy, even if Howard returns, as their final two games are at Illinois and at No. 15 Indiana. Both would be a Quad 1 win and could push Michigan into the Field of 68.

No. 8: Rutgers Scarlet Knights (Last Week: 6)

Where did Rutgers' offense go?

The Scarlet Knights have scored more than 65 points just one time in their last seven games, in a loss to Nebraska. Escaping at Wisconsin and at Penn State is the only thinking keeping them from plummeting further.

No. 7: Iowa Hawkeyes (Last week: 8)

Iowa pulled off one of the craziest comeback wins I have ever seen over the weekend against Michigan State. The Hawkeyes were down 11 with a minute to go and hit four straight three-pointers to send the game to overtime. Momentum pushed them to a 112-106 victory. The win probably cements them as a tournament team with a chance to move up against Indiana on Tuesday.

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

The way the Spartans finished against Iowa probably should move them below the Hawkeyes by itself, but MSU earned a big win over Indiana a week ago. With how hot the Hoosiers have been, that helps MSU stay above Iowa for now.

No. 5: Illinois Fighting Illini (Last week: 4)

The Fighting Illini started the week off right with a home win against Northwestern, where they trailed by 18 at the half. But they followed it up by losing by 12 to the Buckeyes, who hadn’t won a game in over a month. They return home to play Michigan on Thursday, and they’ve lost just one game in Champaign in 2023. Then they finish off the season at Purdue, which could be a huge game for how the Big Ten Tournament shapes out.

No. 4: Northwestern Wildcats (Last week: 3)

In an alternate timeline, Northwestern is a game out of first place in the Big Ten and could be the No. 1 seed in these rankings. Instead, the Wildcats blew an 18-point lead against Illinois and then scored just 20 points in the second half in the loss to Maryland. They are no longer ranked, and it was a really disappointing week for a team that appeared to be trending up.

No. 3: Maryland Terrapins (Last week: 5)

Maryland is probably the hottest team in the Big Ten right now. Since January first, the Terps have upset Northwestern, Indiana and Purdue in College Park. Now they go on the road this week to Columbus and Happy Valley. Overall, the Terps have lost seven of their last eight Big Ten games on the road, with the only win coming in the Twin Cities. If they want to be a higher seed in the NCAA Tournament, they are going to have to prove they can win in hostile environments.

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

True freshman Jalen Hood-Schifino had the game of his life in Indiana’s upset win over Purdue in West Lafayette, playing in all 40 minutes and dropping 35 points. If the Hoosiers can get that kind of production from Hood-Schifino with how dominant Trayce Jackson-Davis has been, they are going to be the best team coming out of the Big Ten.

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

Alarms are sounding, just as they do every year in West Lafayette around this time. The Boilermakers are an enigma. They go 17-1 to start the season and then end it by losing four of their last six. Wisconsin and Illinois are on the schedule this week and both are in dire need of big wins to help their current positioning in the NCAA Tournament. Pressure is on for a fairly young squad, and it is going to be really interesting to see how they finish off the season in the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments where they have typically choked.