With the Big Ten-ACC Challenge and most of the holiday tournaments now in the rear-view mirror, non-conference play is starting to near its final chapter. Every Big Ten team has now played nine or more games and most have faced at least a handful of legitimate opponents.
We’re rapidly approaching the time when we can move away from projections and speculation into legitimate analysis. And where does that leave things for the Big Ten this week? We’ll have to take a look at the power rankings below to see where things fit.
The BTPowerhouse Power Rankings is composed of votes from 48 writers that cover the Big Ten and three statistical measures (KenPom, RPI, Sagarin). This voting group is composed of BTPowerhouse's staff, 15 writers from SBNation's other Big Ten related sites, Steve Lorenz, Luke Srodulski, Josh Stephens, Mike Wilson, Brendan Brody of Rush The Court, Alex Cook from MGoBlog, Andrew Kulha, Shawn O'Neal from Lindy Sports, and Jim Weber from Lost Lettermen among others. (Not all writers participated in each set of rankings).
With that, here are BTPowerhouse's week five Big Ten power rankings.
Big Ten Week 5 Power Rankings
#1 - Indiana Hoosiers (200 Points) --
The Hoosiers played just one game this week and it came against an underwhelming Houston Baptist team at home on Saturday. Indiana walloped the Huskies by more than 40 points to improve to 8-1 on the season.
Indiana will get its lone remaining legitimate non-conference game before Big Ten action begins this Saturday as the Hoosier take on Butler in the annual Crossroads Classic. Expect a tight game between two of the better teams in the country. If Indiana can grab a win, it would really put the Hoosiers in great position to grab a one or two seed at season’s end.
#2 - Wisconsin Badgers (194 Points) --
The Badgers have officially made their claim as the Big Ten’s best team after recording two wins last week against Idaho State at home and Marquette on the road. Wisconsin’s 9-2 record leave some room for improvement, but the Badgers have now compiled five wins against KenPom’s top 100 teams, including three away from home.
Although Wisconsin only gets one game this week, it comes against a potential RPI booster in Green Bay at home. The Phoenix is only 4-5 overall, but should be in contention for a top 150 finish by season’s end. As such, Green Bay figures to be “good enough” to at least offer some boost to Wisconsin’s resume.
#3 - Purdue Boilermakers (182 Points) --
The Boilermakers are arguably the Big Ten’s hottest team right now. After falling by seven on the road to Louisville a few weeks ago, Purdue has reeled off three-straight wins by 24 points or more. The latest was against Cleveland State at home to push Purdue’s record to 8-2 overall.
However, things will get much tougher this week as Purdue gets a showdown with a really talented Notre Dame team in the annual Crossroads Classic on Saturday. Purdue has put together a decent non-conference resume so far, but it lacks a marquee win. It will have an opportunity to add one on Saturday against the Irish and desperately needs to get the job done for seeding purposes.
#4 - Maryland Terrapins (153 Points) +2
The Terps just keep winning. After facing Howard and Saint Peter’s at home last week, Maryland improved its record to 10-1 on the year and added another win to its resume by 10 points or less. Terms like “lucky” will get brought up a lot in discussions about Maryland in the coming weeks, but until the team drops another game, it’s hard to argue too much with a 10-1 record.
Maryland only gets one game this week and it will come on Monday night at home against an underwhelming Jacksonville State team. If Maryland can grab a win, it will (likely) have made it through non-conference play without a bad loss. That’s a pretty nice achievement for any team.
#5 - Michigan Wolverines (141 Points) --
The Wolverines had a mixed week with a win over Texas at home on Tuesday and a loss on the road against UCLA on Saturday. Michigan actually played much better in its loss to UCLA than it did in its win against Texas, but the Bruins were exceptional all night, averaging an absurd 1.59 points per possession against a respectable Michigan defense.
Michigan won’t have much to get excited for this week as the team prepares to face Central Arkansas and Maryland Eastern Shore at home. Considering that both teams are outside the top 300 on KenPom, the only concern here will be whether Michigan shows up as focused enough to avoid a potential upset.
#6 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (133 Points) +2
The Gophers had a great week as the team reeled off three wins against NJIT, Georgia Southern, and Northern Illinois at home. Although the NJIT game was a bit dicey at times, Minnesota still improved to 10-1 on the season and beat both Georgia Southern and Northern Illinois by at least 20 points. Minnesota will have just one game this week against LIU Brooklyn on Wednesday. A one-loss non-conference performance this season is very much in play for the Gophers.
#7 - Michigan State Spartans (126 Points) --
The Spartans continued to show flaws last week as the team took down Youngstown State and narrowly escaped against Tennessee Tech at home on Saturday. Miles Bridges will likely be out at least a little longer and the pressure will be on Michigan State to avoid an upset in his absence. The good news is that the Spartans get some time off before facing Northeastern at home on Sunday. Keep an eye on that matchup though, as it projects to be a tight one for Michigan State.
#8 - Northwestern Wildcats (107 Points) +1
The Wildcats only had one game this week and the team came away with a blowout win over New Orleans at home on Sunday. Northwestern’s resume isn’t outstanding with many of the its wins coming against weak competition, but the team is quietly 7-2 with upcoming matchups against Chicago State and Dayton this week. If Northwestern can come away with two wins, the postseason looks likely.
#9 - Ohio State Buckeyes (101 Points) -5
The Buckeyes had two games last week and thoroughly underwhelmed in both matchups. Ohio State started the week by losing at home to Florida Atlantic and followed it up by narrowly escaping against a 4-5 UConn squad over the weekend. Ohio State may be 8-2, but there are serious questions about this team.
The good news for Ohio State is that it gets UCLA on Saturday in an opportunity to add a massive win to its resume. The Bruins are 10-0 and have already recorded four wins against top 100 competition, including a road win over Kentucky. If Ohio State can find a way to win, it would make up for any non-conference struggles so far this season.
#10 - Illinois Fighting Illini (75 Points) --
The Illini have recovered well after three rough losses on Thanksgiving week. Illinois has now recorded four straight wins with two of those victories coming against top 75 teams and another against a top 150 team. Illinois recorded the latest two last week at home against IUPUI and Central Michigan. Illinois only has one game this week and it comes in Chicago against a pesky BYU team. This is a game that Illinois must find a way to win. If not, things could get rough.
#11 - Iowa Hawkeyes (54 Points) +3
The Hawkeyes were at the lowest of lows to start last week. The team was coming off a proverbial gut punch thanks to a loss to Nebraska Omaha at home and had a brutal four-game losing streak where just one of those losses had come by single-digits.
But as we all know, things change quickly in college basketball.
Iowa reeled off two wins last week with the first coming by 27 against Stetson at home and the second coming by double-digits against a good Iowa State team. It was Iowa’s first win in the rivalry series with the Cyclones since 2012. Iowa will get Northern Iowa on a neutral court on Saturday for an opportunity to add another top 100 win.
#12 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (51 Points) -1
The Scarlet Knights may have only played one top 175 team (Miami (FL)) this season, but Rutgers improved to 9-1 last week with wins over Central Connecticut at home and Stony Brook on the road. However, things will get tougher this week with Fairleigh Dickinson at home and Fordham on a neutral court. Neither opponent is great, but a win over Fordham would at least give Rutgers two wins against top 200 teams.
#13 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (44 Points) -1
The Huskers were underdogs in both of its games last week and neither game failed to live up to those projections. Nebraska fell at home against Creighton on Wednesday and on the road against Kansas on Saturday. The team is now 5-5 overall with no quality non-conference opponents remaining. As such, if Nebraska is going to make a postseason push, it will have to do it in Big Ten play. Nebraska will get Gardner Webb at home on Sunday this week.
#14 - Penn State Nittany Lions (19 Points) --
The Nittany Lions had two games last week and came up short in both with losses to George Mason at home and Pittsburgh on a neutral court. Penn State continues to have bright spots on its roster, but the team has struggled on the whole and a postseason appearance is starting to look less and less likely at this point. Penn State will get St. John’s on the road on Sunday and desperately needs to win that game to salvage its non-conference resume.