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Big Ten Power Rankings: Will Michigan win another game this season?

It’s a fair question to ask at this point when you’re at the bottom.

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

A crazy week in the Big Ten Conference has caused a shake-up in our rankings after Wisconsin went 0-2, losing on the road against Nebraska and at home to the Purdue Boilermakers. Now, Purdue has taken over as the No. 1 team in the conference, with Wisconsin and Illinois just one game back.

Way down at the bottom of the rankings are the Michigan Wolverines, who went from being blown out by Michigan State in East Lansing to embarrassing themselves on their home court against Rutgers after scoring just 20 second-half points and only two in the final seven minutes.

From top to bottom, let’s take a look at this week’s power rankings:

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

Record: 7-15 overall, 2-9 B1G

Juwan Howard has absolutely no answer to countless problems surrounding his team. The offense is broken, the players look lost on the court, and they make no adjustments.

The home loss to Rutgers was the ultimate example of what keeps happening to this team. Michigan entered halftime up nine and then forgot how to play basketball in the second half, scoring just six points in the last 10 minutes. Rutgers finished on a 22-6 run as Michigan dropped its fifth straight game.

With a really difficult nine games left, it’s fair to question if this team will win another game:

  • 2/7 - vs No. 11 Wisconsin
  • 2/10 - @ Nebraska
  • 2/13 - @ No. 10 Illinois
  • 2/17 - vs Michigan State
  • 2/22 - @ Northwestern
  • 2/25 - vs Purdue
  • 2/29 - @ Rutgers
  • 3/3 - @ Ohio State
  • 3/10 - vs Nebraska

It’s tough to pick a game confidently that Michigan wins. Maybe against Rutgers in Piscataway (doubtful) or perhaps at Ohio State? This team is playing with little “pride,” according to Howard, and I just don’t see how that gets restored with a brutal slate of games down the stretch.

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

Record: 11-10 overall, 3-7 B1G

What makes Michigan’s loss to Rutgers even worse is it got absolutely boat-raced by Penn State earlier last week. At home, the Scarlet Knights scored only 46 points in their worst showing of the season. I was primed to put them in last place and finally move Michigan up a spot, but that horrendous second half keeps Rutgers ranked ahead.

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

Record: 13-9 overall, 3-8 B1G

It’s official, Ohio State was a fluke this season. That early win over Alabama was an anomaly because this team stinks. The Buckeyes have now lost seven of their last eight. I questioned how this team would stack up in the Big Ten in my first rankings of conference play, and I just don’t see how they dig themselves out of this massive hole with only a couple weeks to go and still having Wisconsin and Purdue on the schedule.

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

Record: 11-11 overall, 5-6 B1G

Don’t look now, but Penn State is currently playing its best basketball of the season. The Nittany Lions have won three of their last five with wins over No. 11 Wisconsin, at Rutgers, and at Indiana. Ace Baldwin Jr. is on a really nice run from behind the arc, shooting 59.1 percent from deep in the last five games. They’re still far from even being close to a tournament team, but if they get hot from the three-ball, they’re a tough team to beat.

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

Record: 13-9 overall, 5-6 B1G

Indiana did pull way late in a home win over Iowa this week, but the Hawkeyes shot only 35.4 percent from the field. Credit to Indiana for playing defense and for outrebounding Iowa, 45-32, but the Hoosiers also turned the ball over 11 times.

Then, they lost to Penn State by 14 points at home because the Nittany Lions shot 54.5 percent from deep. The Hoosiers are sloppy offensively and cannot shoot the ball from deep. A lot will have to change to put them anywhere near the top of the conference.

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

Record: 14-7 overall, 5-5 B1G

The Golden Gophers earned a great win over Northwestern in overtime this week, as they forced 17 turnovers in a late come-from-behind victory. The game was in Minneapolis, though, which makes an upset like this one more plausible. Still, it was an important step to proving this team is for real with a key Quad 2 win, and now they have a chance to improve upon that with three Quad 1 games coming up against Michigan State, Iowa and Purdue.

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

Record: 13-9 overall, 5-6 B1G

Iowa’s lucky to not have lost five straight. Michigan choked in the second half a couple weeks ago in Ann Arbor. Then, the Hawkeyes had that horrific shooting night in Bloomington. A game that featured 10 lead changes against Ohio State and resulted in a two-point win at home has them struggling to keep themselves upright. They easily could drop in our rankings in what is the mosh pit of the middle of the Big Ten.

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

Record: 13-9 overall, 5-6 B1G

The uptick here has more to do with the teams around them than it does for any kind of success they had this week. Their only game was a loss to Michigan State in East Lansing, but they held a one-point lead with seven minutes to go until the Spartans went on a 22-12 run to close out a nine-point win at home. I still like the direction the Terps are headed with the play of Jahmir Young, who had a 31-point performance in the loss.

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

Record: 14-8 overall, 6-5 B1G

No change for the Spartans this week after the win over Maryland. It will be a big week for Tom Izzo’s squad, as they head to Minneapolis to face Minnesota and then host Illinois for one of their most important games of the season.

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

Record: 15-7 overall, 6-5 B1G

Wildcats fans should be at least a little upset Purdue shot 46 free throws to their eight in their overtime loss in West Lafayette. It was a bit “hack-a-Shaq” when Zach Edey got the ball in the post. Even so, the discrepancy is daunting. Following that up with an overtime loss to Minnesota didn’t help. They can get a leg back up if they can take care of business against Nebraska and Penn State this week back at home.

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

Record: 16-7 overall, 6-6 B1G

No team did more for itself this week than the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Most of their wins this season came against Quad 3 and Quad 4 opponents, but they turned a 19-point deficit in Madison into a top-10 win over Wisconsin to start the week. They then played Illinois to the wire in Champaign in a thrilling overtime game, losing by just three. They need to finish out the season strong, but I think the Cornhuskers have a good chance to be dancing by season’s end.

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

Record: 16-6 overall, 8-3 B1G

The Badgers squandered their first-place lead in the Big Ten after falling to Nebraska and Purdue. That loss to the Cornhuskers is going to haunt them if they don’t retain at least a share of the regular season title when we hit March. They should rebound this week against the two worst teams in the conference: Michigan and Rutgers.

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

Record: 17-5 overall, 8-3 B1G

It was a clean week for Brad Underwood’s squad after running away from Ohio State and beating Nebraska in overtime. The Fighting Illini were actually winning by 10 points with only 3:30 minutes to play in regulation before Nebraska went on a crazy run to force overtime. They’ll get most of this week off before taking on Michigan State in East Lansing, a battle on CBS this Saturday.

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

Record: 21-2 overall, 10-2 B1G

Purdue continues to prove it is among the elite teams in college basketball. The Boilermakers legitimately could be the best team in the country this season, as their only two losses are on the road against quality Big Ten opponents. Outside of that, they have eight Quad 1 wins after beating Northwestern in overtime and topping Wisconsin in Madison. Now, they have the first-place spot in the conference and have won seven straight games.

Senior guard Lance Jones has scored 20+ in three of their last four games. If the Boilermakers can get that kind of scoring around superstar Zach Edey, Purdue could go all the way this season.