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Three Big Ten Teams Ranked In National Polls Heading in to Conference Play

After a mediocre non-conference showing, the Big Ten enters conference play with 3 teams ranked, including 2 in the top 4.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

With Big Ten play slated to begin Tuesday night, the conference will enter with just 3 ranked teams. Despite not having their play maker and leading scorer, Michigan State remains at the top of both the AP Poll and the Coaches poll with a 13-0 record. Maryland remains the 4th ranked team in both polls while Purdue slots in at 14th.

All three of the conference's ranked teams will play two conference games this week to get Big Ten play started. This will not only challenge these teams to win both games to improve their ranking, but also give other Big Ten teams a chance to top a ranked team and inch closer to earning a ranking themselves.

Today, we take a look at how the three ranked Big Ten teams fared last week and a peak at what team may appear in the top-25 next.

Michigan State Spartans (13-0)

- AP: #1 (64) USA Today: #1 (27)

In their first game since losing Denzel Valentine, the Spartans beat Oakland 99-93 in overtime. Bryn Forbes carried the load on offense for Tom Izzo with 32 points hitting 7 out of 9 from deep. Eron Harris also poured in 27 for the Spartans.

Michigan State will start conference play on Tuesday night at Iowa which will be a big test for the Spartans without Valentine. The Spartans will then travel to Minnesota as they play their first two conference games on the road. It will be a challenge for Michigan State to remain unbeaten for many games without their star.

Maryland Terrapins (11-1)

- AP: #4 USA Today: #4

Maryland remained the 4th ranked team in both polls this week as the Terrapins knocked off Marshall 87-67. Freshman Diamond Stone dominated on the block scoring 16 points while shooting 8-10. The lone loss for Mark Turgeon's squad continues to be at Chapel Hill against North Carolina.

The Terrapins will have to make sure they are ready for Penn State when they open up conference play as the Nittany Lions have a more talented roster than they have had in past years. Maryland will then travel to Northwestern and face a tough Wildcats team that went 12-1 in a pretty easy non-conference schedule.

Purdue Boilermakers (12-1)

- AP: #14 USA Today: #14

Purdue's lone game of last week was a solid win against Vanderbilt. AJ Hammons was huge off the bench with 21 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 blocks. The Boilermakers controlled the second half outscoring Vanderbilt 45-29.

The Boilermakers start conference play Tuesday as they travel to Madison to take on the Badgers. This will be a good early conference road test for Matt Painter's team before they travel back home to take on the Hawkeyes on Saturday. These are two tough games to start Big Ten play for Purdue, but both winnable for a team that looks like it could win the conference.

Who's Next?

There are two Big Ten teams also receiving votes in the AP Poll. Both Iowa and Northwestern have a chance to crack through the rankings and will do it if they can go 2-0 this week. Iowa will have to do it against Michigan State on Tuesday and then Purdue on Saturday. Two top-15 wins would certainly catapult the Hawkeyes up the rankings. Meanwhile, Northwestern has a great chance at they travel to Nebraska Wednesday to start Big Ten  play and then have a chance for a marquee win at home against Maryland on Saturday. If either team wins both games they will be ranked.