Another week goes by and another set of great games. Michigan and MSU had firm control over the conference, but after both teams lost over the weekend, a few teams closed in. This was also a big week for teams like Ohio State and Wisconsin, who pulled off big wins. Finally, we almost have a unanimous bottom team, which is interesting given recent weeks. With no further wait, here are the BTP Power Rankings:
Week 15 Power Rankings
#1 - Michigan State (Average - 1.1)
The Spartans maintained #1 in the Power Rankings this week after splitting with Penn State and Wisconsin. In some weeks, that may have dropped the top team, but considering that both Michigan and Iowa split this week as well, MSU did not have to look over their shoulder too much. This is the first time in weeks that the #1 team has been able to hang on to their spot for two weeks in a row. Maybe it is a sign of things to come.
#2 - Michigan (Average - 2.1)
Michigan stayed at #2 this week, but actually fell in terms of the vote total. There is no doubt that a big hunk of this drop in the votes was due to their collapse on the road against Iowa. The Wolverines still remain tied with the Spartans in the Big Ten, but BTP's writers see a gap forming in the top two spots.
#3 - Iowa (Average - 3.2)
The Hawkeyes literally did not move an inch this week. Maybe this is what happens when you split with OSU and Michigan at home. Not only was Iowa ranked #3 last week, but they actually had the same 3.2 average total. This is the first time in quite some time that a team was able to stay that close to its spot in the previous week. It's fair to say that Iowa is clearly viewed as the 3rd best team in the Big Ten right now.
#4 - Ohio State (Average - 4.45)
The Buckeyes had one of their best weeks in quite some time by sweeping both Iowa and Purdue. OSU is now on a 3 game winning streak and are starting to make a serious run toward the top couple of teams in the conference. In fact, after being below .500 in conference play for quite some time, the Buckeyes are now just a game out of 3rd place, which is a major improvement.
#4 - Wisconsin (Average - 4.45)
In a very rare feat, the Badgers actually tied OSU in our polls to come in at #4 this week. This is the first tie that I can remember. The Badgers beat both Illinois and MSU last week and like OSU, appear poised to make a serious run at that 4th seed in the Big Ten Tournament. Doing well against Iowa and Michigan on the road will be key.
#6 - Indiana (Average - 6.5)
The Hoosiers jumped up two spots this week to settle at #6. It's sort of odd to see Indiana rise after losing its sole game this week (Minnesota on the road), but given the results of some other teams, it is not that crazy. The only thing worth noting is that there is a pretty sizable gap between the two #4 teams and Indiana. It will take a lot to see Indiana making a serious run at those teams next week.
#7 - Minnesota (Average - 7.0)
Like a few teams at the top of the polls, the Gophers did not move this week. They did slide back a tad in the vote total, but the voters appear to think they are just a tad behind Indiana. It certainly is an interesting ranking considering that Minnesota beat Indiana last week, but that Purdue loss still looks like it's hurting Minnesota.
#8 - Northwestern (Average - 7.9)
The Wildcats look like they might be starting to drop back to reality. After a completely insane run in the Big Ten, they lost their only game this week at home against Nebraska. This caused them to drop 3 spots in this week's rankings. Part of this was due to other teams winning, but it makes you wonder how much voters are dropping Northwestern simply because they do not believe their run can last.
#9 - Nebraska (Average - 8.6)
The Cornhuskers held strong at #9 for the 3rd straight week, but did move up a tad in the vote totals. If they can keep winning at home and steal a few more games on the road, they do have the potential to move up pretty quickly considering where they sit.
#10 - Purdue (Average - 10.0)
The Boilermakers moved up a spot this week after splitting with Minnesota and Ohio State. There is a pretty sizable gap between Nebraska and Purdue, so it's hard to see them jumping up too quickly unless they really start pulling off some impressive wins.
#11 - Illinois (Average - 10.6)
Illinois won the battle for last place on Sunday by beating Penn State. With the win, Illinois moved up a spot on this week's rankings and avoided the dreaded #12 spot. The win broke the team's 8 game losing streak.
#12 - Penn State (Average - 11.9)
The Nittany Lions were relegated to last place this week after losing to MSU and Illinois. This team probably is not as bad as they look, but they have made a strong claim to the last spot. Also worth noting, only one voter did not vote Penn State #12 this week.
For the first time in awhile, there were virtually no changes at the top. The only change in the top four teams this week was that Wisconsin moved into a tie with Ohio State, so in reality, there was no change in the top four. This is almost guaranteed to change this week with some challenging matchups for Michigan, OSU, and Wisconsin, but for now, the top of the Big Ten has at least taken some shape.
In the middle, there was an odd placement for Indiana. It's hard to reason why they were above Minnesota this week other than the fact that the Gophers lost to Purdue. That is certainly a bad loss for Minnesota, but you would think that beating Indiana later in the week would make up for it. Outside of that, it is interesting to see Northwestern tank so far from last week. As mentioned above, this is probably due to a lot of insecurity in ranking Northwestern that high last week. Whether this is unfair or not, it seems like the most reasonable explanation for the massive drop.
At the bottom, the only team that appears to have separated itself is Nebraska. For the next few weeks, it seems likely that Purdue, Illinois, and Penn State will simply move around based on when the teams can snag wins. At least, that has been what they have been doing recently.