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Big Ten Power Rankings: Purdue-Wisconsin on Sunday could determine top spot

It’ll be a great matchup in Madison later this week.

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Rutgers Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Daniel Plocher Dan Plocher contributes to Maize n’ Brew in several areas including podcasts, game previews/recaps, and various YouTube videos.

The two top teams in the Big Ten Conference by record will face off this week as the No. 6 Wisconsin Badgers take on the No. 2 Purdue Boilermakers in Madison on Sunday. In all respects, it should determine who the top team is in our rankings next week.

But both could be caught earlier than that with mid-week contests against two teams in the upper half of our power rankings. Let’s take a look at this week’s rankings and see how the teams stack up:

14. Michigan Wolverines (Last Week: No. 14)

Record: 7-13 overall, 2-7 B1G

Michigan is a completely dysfunctional basketball program right now. The Wolverines lost by 30 to Purdue in maybe the most embarrassing loss of the Juwan Howard era, and then responded with a 9:30 second-half drought at home against Iowa where they also lost by double-digits.

East Lansing is going to be a nightmare on Tuesday, as the Wolverines will struggle to operate without Dug McDaniel, their best player, who will be continuing to serve his academic suspension.

13. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (Last Week: No. 13)

Record: 10-9 overall, 2-6 B1G

I was actually really impressed with Rutgers’ play against Purdue on Sunday. It climbed back from a 12-point deficit and nearly pulled off the home upset over the Boilermakers after forcing 15 turnovers.

But Edey was too much and propelled Purdue to the 68-60 win. Because of that, Rutgers is staying towards the bottom.

12. Penn State Nittany Lions (Last Week: No. 12)

Record: 9-11 overall, 3-6 B1G

Penn State is hanging onto this spot over Rutgers by a thread after a nine-point home loss to Minnesota this week. The win over Wisconsin puts it just ahead of Rutgers, but a matchup in Piscataway midweek will determine if it stays here or falls back a slot in next week’s rankings.

11. Minnesota Golden Gophers (Last Week: No. 11)

Record: 13-7 overall, 4-5 B1G

The Golden Gophers were so close to pulling off the home upset over Wisconsin after a great second half. But they went 5-of-13 from the free-throw line, causing them to lose the lead late.

Pulling away from Penn State keeps them out of the bottom three, but their next two weeks ahead are really tough with contests against Northwestern, Michigan State, at Iowa and at Purdue.

10. Ohio State Buckeyes (Last Week: No. 8)

Record: 13-7 overall, 3-6 B1G

The Buckeyes are teetering in Big Ten play, just as they did a season ago. Their only win in their last six games was at home over Penn State, and they are coming off back-to-back beatdowns against Nebraska and Northwestern. They’re in jeopardy of falling even further if they can’t get back in the win column against Illinois and Iowa.

9. Indiana Hoosiers (Last Week: No. 9)

Record: 12-8 overall, 4-5 B1G

One thing is for sure — Indiana is closer to the bottom half of the conference than the top. The Hoosiers let Illinois slip away later in a 70-62 loss, but this team has serious flaws. They have no presence behind the arc going 0-for-9 against the Fighting Illini, dropping them to last in the conference averaging just five made threes per game.

With plenty of teams who can light it up from deep, Indiana could be in trouble against some of the teams on the upcoming schedule, including Iowa and Penn State this week.

8. Maryland Terrapins (Last Week: No. 10)

Record: 13-8 overall, 5-5 B1G

Kevin Willard’s team was extremely streaky last season and made a late push in Big Ten play to solidify a spot in the NCAA Tournament. With several returning players, could they still have a little magic left in them?

They have a ways to go to avenge losses to UAB and Davidson earlier this season, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see this veteran-laden team make a run after huge wins over Iowa and Nebraska this past week.

7. Iowa Hawkeyes (Last Week: No. 4)

Record: 12-8 overall, 4-5 B1G

Ok. I’ll admit it. I was maybe a tad overzealous about this Iowa team. The Hawkeyes danced with Michigan for a little too long in Ann Arbor before pulling away, and then lost a home game to Maryland after allowing Jahmir Young to score eight points in the final 86 seconds, including a buzzer-beater to win, 69-67.

I love what the Hawkeyes are capable of on offense, which is why I think they can compete with just about everyone in the country, but their pace makes them one of the weaker defenses in the conference. If they don’t shoot well (like 21 percent from deep against Maryland) they’re going to struggle to win games.

6. Michigan State (Last Week: No. 5)

Record: 12-8 overall, 4-5 B1G

I, and many others, keep waiting for the other shoe to drop for Michigan State — in a positive manner. This team is far too talented to be tied for seventh in conference play with a 4-5 record. Wisconsin blew them out at the Kohl Center last week after shooting over 50 percent from the field and out-rebounding them by double-digits.

Something is going to have to change soon for Tom Izzo or this could turn into one of the most disappointing seasons in East Lansing in quite some time.

5. Nebraska Cornhuskers (Last Week: No. 6)

Record: 15-6 overall, 5-5 B1G

A 22-point loss to Maryland was an ugly way to finish their week, but that game should prove to be more than a fluke than anything else.

They have a big opportunity to shake things up this week as they get Wisconsin in a potential trap game before the Badgers face Purdue. Then, they host Illinois for a chance to keep their home winning streak going.

4. Northwestern Wildcats (Last Week: No. 7)

Record: 15-5 overall, 6-3 B1G

Don’t look now, but Northwestern has a shot at the Big Ten regular season title after pulling off an upset win in an OT thriller against Illinois at home. It helps when you shoot 9-of-13 from beyond the arc and over 55 percent from the field.

Boo Buie continues to be one of the top performers in the Big Ten and in the country, and they’ll need him to keep this up to finish as champs.

3. Wisconsin Badgers (Last Week: No. 2)

Record: 16-4 overall, 8-1 B1G

A.J. Storr continues to be one of the most influential transfers in college basketball this season after dropping 28 points in the home blowout of Michigan State. The Badgers are deep, have plenty of ways to beat you, and play really efficient basketball. They’re definitely one of the top-15 teams in college basketball, but I’m slightly skeptical since they haven’t faced the best of the Big Ten yet.

2. Illinois Fighting Illini (Last Week: No. 2)

Record: 15-5 overall, 6-3 B1G

I can’t let an overtime loss on the road against Northwestern impact my thoughts on the Fighting Illini just yet. That was their first loss of Big Ten play with Terrance Shannon Jr., and it was in hostile territory in overtime.

They’re not as deep as some of the other top three teams in the conference, but they might have the best starting five, which is why I still like them over Wisconsin by just a hair. That could change if Wisconsin can beat Purdue this Sunday.

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

Record: 19-2 overall, 8-2 B1G

Make it five in a row for the Boilermakers. As mentioned earlier, the Rutgers game nearly got away from them, but they were good enough to stop the run and leave Piscataway with a win.

It might be their biggest week in Big Ten play. They play their kryptonite — the Northwestern Wildcats — on Wednesday before a matchup with Wisconsin on Sunday.

The supporting staff around Edey will have to be better for this team to win keep this winning streak alive and for the Boilermakers to take the top spot away from Wisconsin in Big Ten play.