Last weekend marked the last good weekend of non-conference play for the Big Ten and it certainly brought its fair share of intrigue. Some teams scored marquee wins while other suffered disappointing losses. And in the case of Michigan State and Nebraska, some even suffered shocking home upsets.
But the most significant takeaway from last weekend is that fans can truly take a step back and evaluate the conference for the first time this season. Every Big Ten team has now played in at least 11 games and 13 of the teams have faced multiple quality opponents.
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 six Big Ten power rankings.
Big Ten Week Six Power Rankings
#1 - Purdue Boilermakers (275 Points) +2
The Boilermakers are absolutely rolling and jumped to the top of this week’s BTP Power Rankings with 47.6 percent of the first-place votes. Purdue only had one game last week, but scored a huge win against Notre Dame in the annual Crossroads Classic. It was the first time Purdue has won in the event and its the fourth straight win for the Boilermakers.
However, Purdue will now enter the danger zone of Christmas week with terrible Western Illinois and Norfolk State teams at home this week. There’s absolutely no reason for either of these games to be close and if Purdue wants to bring its momentum into Big Ten play, these need to be convincing wins.
#2 - Wisconsin Badgers (265 Points) --
The Badgers remained at No. 2 this week after improving to 10-2 with a double-digit win over Green Bay at home on Wednesday. Wisconsin now sits as one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten after winning its last six games and nine of its last 10, including five against top 100 competition. Wisconsin received just over 19 percent of the first-place votes.
Like many other teams, Wisconsin will have a pretty calm week as it only has one game against Florida A&M at home on Friday. This should be a decent opportunity to unload the bench and iron out some kinks in the system before Wisconsin opens conference play on December 27th.
#3 - Indiana Hoosiers (262 Points) -2
The Hoosiers played just one game last week and it came in a ranked matchup against Butler in the annual Crossroads Classic. The game was pretty competitive in the second half, but the Bulldogs ultimately grabbed an 83-78 win. With the loss, Indiana dropped to 8-2 overall and to No. 3 in our power rankings. Indiana received 23.8 percent of the first-place votes.
Indiana will hope to get back on track this week with home matchups against terrible Delaware State and Austin Peay teams. This is traditionally a dangerous week for teams who get caught looking ahead to Christmas and conference play and Indiana will hope it doesn’t get tripped up by either opponent.
#4 - Maryland Terrapins (215 Points) --
The Terps only had one game last week and improved to 11-1 with a convincing win over Jacksonville State at home. The advanced stats don’t view Maryland as highly as the team’s record might indicate, but it’s hard to argue too much with an 11-1 record that also includes a few nice wins.
Maryland will gets its final non-conference game this week with a neutral game against Charlotte in Baltimore. Things will get much tougher afterward, but if the Terps can put together a 12-1 non-conference resume, it’s hard to consider that anything other than a success.
#5 - Michigan Wolverines (195 Points) --
The Wolverines had two games last week and coasted to easy wins over Central Arkansas and Maryland Eastern Shore. Both opponents were terrible, but Michigan left no doubt in either matchup, winning by a combined 93 points.
Michigan will have just one game this week and it will come against a feisty Furman team at home on Thursday night. Furman has already beaten UAB and pushed Georgia and Winthrop to the edge earlier this season. Michigan will be favored, but it will have to at least show up to improve to 10-3 on the season.
#6 - Northwestern Wildcats (180 Points) +2
The Wildcats are quietly putting together one of the Big Ten’s better resumes and it got a major boost last Saturday following a win over a quality Dayton team. Although Northwestern still has more to prove before it will be considered a real Big Ten contender, things are looking good for the Wildcats.
Northwestern will get home matchups with IUPUI and Houston Baptist this week for an opportunity to enter Big Ten play with an 11-2 record.
#7 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (177 Points) -1
The Gophers only faced LIU Brooklyn last week and improved to 11-1 with a double-digit victory over the Blackbirds. Minnesota will close out non-conference play on Friday against Arkansas State at home with a chance to move to 12-1 on the season with six wins over top 150 opponents. A win would also put Minnesota in position to consider the NIT as this season’s floor, which is incredible given last season’s disastrous performance.
#8 - Ohio State Buckeyes (157 Points) +1
The Buckeyes only had one game last week and it came on a neutral court against a rolling UCLA team. To the surprise of nobody, Ohio State held on for awhile against the Bruins but faded down the stretch, losing by an 86-73 margin. Ohio State will now hope to get back on track against Youngstown State and UNC Asheville this week and avoid a repeat of its Florida Atlantic debacle earlier this season.
#9 - Michigan State Spartans (125 Points) -2
The Spartans are in major trouble. With a loss to Northeastern at home on Sunday night, Michigan State dropped to 7-5 on the season and on the outside of the NCAA Tournament picture. Things are not going well in East Lansing and there are legitimate fears that this could be the first season without an NCAA Tournament appearance for the program since the 1990s.
Unfortunately, things remain concerning as Michigan State prepares to tip-off against an in-state Oakland team later this week. The Grizzlies are 9-1 and are slotted more than 40 spots higher on KenPom than the Northeastern team that beat Michigan State last weekend. And it doesn’t hurt that Oakland took last year’s Michigan State team to overtime too. Michigan State desperately needs to win this game.
#10 - Illinois Fighting Illini (107 Points) --
The Illini have really turned things around after a horrid performance during late November. Illinois only had one game this week, but added the cherry on top of its recent run by knocking off a solid BYU team on a neutral court. Illinois is now 9-3 overall and sits in pretty solid position heading into a neutral game against Missouri this week. If Illinois can grab the win, the team should be where it needs to be heading into conference play.
#11 - Iowa Hawkeyes (84 Points) --
The Hawkeyes are in the midst of arguably the Big Ten’s best midseason turnaround throughout the first portion of this season. After limping to a 3-5 record to start the season, Iowa has won its last three games, including a win over rival Iowa State and a win against a quality Northern Iowa team more recently.
There’s still a long way to go before Iowa can be considered a legitimate NCAA Tournament contender. However, with North Dakota and Delaware State at home this week, Iowa will get two opportunities to pad its record.
#12 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (79 Points) --
The Scarlet Knights received one first-place vote this week (discussed below) after improving to 11-1 on the season. Rutgers still hasn’t beaten any of consequence, but the team is undeniably improved from last year’s group. Rutgers will get a big opportunity this week to prove itself on the road against Seton Hall.
#13 - Penn State Nittany Lions (46 Points) +1
The Nittany Lions only had one game last week, but scored a valuable road win against St. John’s on Sunday to improve to 7-5 on the season. Although Penn State’s resume isn’t great, it should be good enough to put the team in NIT consideration with a good performance in Big Ten play. Penn State will get Morgan State at home on Wednesday.
#14 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (38 Points) -1
The Huskers are in free fall right now. Despite starting the season with an impressive 4-0 record, Nebraska has now fallen to 5-6 overall with the team’s latest loss coming at home against a bad Gardner-Webb team. The grumbling about Tim Miles has already started and if things are going to turn around, it has to start this week. Nebraska gets Southern at home on Tuesday in a must win situation.
While the BTPowerhouse Power Rankings generally consist of sealed ballots each week, there are a few times each year when the voting pattern(s) of a few select voters will be revealed in this post. This only occurs when I feel that a voter has shirked the general consensus and really gone against the grain.
I do want to stress that revealing the votes of the Power Rankings is something that I do with extreme reluctance. I want writers to express their opinions freely and without fear of heckling or criticism. I want true and accurate votes.
However, sometimes, a vote is so far out of whack that it demands explanation.
This week’s unusual vote comes from Dave White of On The Banks. While most of Dave’s vote fits the general narrative, he voted Rutgers at No. 1 in this week’s Power Rankings. Considering that Rutgers was ranked outside the top six by every other voter, Dave’s vote demanded explanation.
So, here’s his explanation:
“I knew I was going to get called on this, and I know how Big Ten fans feel about Rutgers. But they have 11 wins, and no matter who they’ve played that says something. There are only 9 teams in the nation with 11 or more wins.
“Is there a bit of homerism here? Of course, but give this one to me. I’ve suffered big time with this team and a start like this is rejuvenating. No one expects this kind of start to last, or Rutgers to even make the NCAAs. But right now there are 3 teams in conference with 11 wins. Rutgers is one of them. I’m going to rank them number one for a week. Going by record, I’m not that far off." - Dave White.