The regular season wrapped up last weekend with a flurry of great games. Michigan beat Indiana at home to celebrate its first outright Big Ten title since 1986, Aaron Craft went out with a win on his Senior Day against MSU, and Nebraska picked up one of its biggest wins in program history over Wisconsin, which put the Huskers in great position to make the NCAA Tournament. Heading into the Big Ten Tournament, here are the BTP Power Rankings:
Week 19 Power Rankings
#1 - Michigan (Average - 1.0)
The Wolverines are once again #1, but after finishing the season on a 5 game winning streak, Michigan was not only #1, but ended as the Big Ten's unanimous #1 vote. Considering the fierce debate that people have had about whether Michigan or Wisconsin deserved to be #1 in recent weeks, that's a pretty impressive feat. Michigan won the Big Ten by 3 games and fully deserve the #1 spot this week.
#2 - Wisconsin (Average - 2.1)
The Badgers remained at #2 this despite dropping slightly in the vote total. Wisconsin had won 8 games in a row before going down in their season finale to Nebraska. Wisconsin was tied for 2nd in the Big Ten standings to finish the season, but due to tiebreaker gets the #2 seed in the Big Ten Tournament.
#3 - Michigan State (Average - 3.73)
MSU remained at #3 this week, but "dropped" in the sense that Nebraska is now tied with them in the poll numbers. The Spartans may have been the unanimous pick to win the Big Ten in the preseason vote, but they have really fallen apart down the stretch. Whether that has been due to injuries or not, MSU finished just 1-3 in their last 4 games, 2-4 in their last 6 games, and 5-7 in their last 12 games. In fact, the Spartans have not won back-to-back games since beating Indiana at home on January 21st. Not exactly what you like to see coming into March.
#3 - Nebraska (Average - 3.73)
It's hard to argue anybody was a bigger surprise than Nebraska this year. Down the stretch, they improved significantly and were able to snag the final Big Ten Tournament bye with the #4 seed. They finished the season on a 3 game win streak including a season finale win against Wisconsin at home. The Huskers also won 7 of their finale 8 games. They could be hotter than any team coming in the Big Ten Tournament.
#5 - Ohio State (Average - 4.5)
The Buckeyes have been great at times this season and downright bad at times this year. Despite losing 4 in a row in January and 5 out of 6 games, OSU got things on track and won 8 of the team's final 12 games including a big win over MSU in the season finale. OSU came just short of a 1st round Big Ten Tournament bye, but remain very dangerous with their defensive attack.
#6 - Iowa (Average - 6.6)
Perhaps the most disappointing team in the Big Ten this season has been Iowa. After starting the season so well, dropping to the #6 seed in the conference was definitely not where Hawkeye fans saw their team. Iowa ends on a 2 game losing streak which included a Senior Night loss to Illinois. The Hawkeyes also lost 5 of the team's final 6 games. Some have even said that if Iowa loses their Thursday game against Northwestern, they might even drop to the bubble for the NCAA Tournament.
#7 - Minnesota (Average - 6.8)
By far, the team with the most on the line in the Big Ten Tournament is Minnesota. The Gophers are firmly on the bubble and currently projected just outside of the NCAA Tournament. They did turn things around right at the end of the season, going 2-1 (loss to Michigan), but they still have more work to do in the conference tournament. They get a rematch with Penn State.
#8 - Indiana (Average - 7.9)
The Hoosiers dropped 1 spot this week after losing to both Nebraska and Michigan. Neither of these losses were bad, but with fringe NCAA Tournament hopes on the line, they certainly were not what fans wanted to see. Now, Indiana's tourney hopes ride on the Big Ten Tournament where they get Illinois in the 1st round.
#9 - Illinois (Average - 8.6)
Illinois has been the most improved team in the latter portion of Big Ten play of anyone in the conference. After suffering through a horrid 0-8 stretch, Illinois has now won 4 of their last 5 games and only lost to Michigan. The Illini probably still have to win the Big Ten Tournament to get into the big dance, but there's always a chance.
#10 - Penn State (Average - 10.3)
Penn State didn't end the regular season where they wanted (handled by Minnesota), but they are still considered a hopeful for the NIT Tournament and they get Minnesota in a rematch this week.
#11 - Northwestern (Average - 10.7)
The Wildcats ended their season with a big win over Purdue that kept them out of last place in the Big Ten. They have a tough matchup with Iowa in the Big Ten Tournament.
#12 - Purdue (Average - 11.9)
Purdue has been a disaster down the stretch. The team lost its final 6 games and 7 of its final 8. For a team with this much talent, that is underachieving.
The top 2 spots remained the same this week, but do not discount the fact that Michigan was unanimously named the #1 team this week. With both Michigan and Wisconsin competing for seeding in the NCAA Tournament, the outlook between the 2 teams could be very important.
Lower, it's kind of amazing to see MSU slated at #3. I have talked about this with other teams, but I think this is more due to preseason expectations than anything else. Injuries or not, this MSU team is not performing like the 3rd best team in the conference right now. Losing 3 of your final 4 games including a home game to Illinois should not warrant you that much in the polls. Add in that 5-7 record over the team's last 12 games including a 2-5 record against the top half of the conference and it's pretty hard to justify why they are so high on this list other than where people thought they would be to begin the season.
Further down, most of the rankings make a lot of sense. Nebraska slightly edged out OSU in the standings and in recent weeks and they did here. One could make an argument that Iowa should be lower, but it's not like Minnesota or Indiana have been on a tear lately. Plus, Illinois may have won a few games in a row, but they were also blown off the court recently against Michigan.
At the bottom, the list makes sense with none of the teams really separating themselves from one another except Purdue with their recent string of losses.