With the games on Friday night, non-conference play effectively ended for the Big Ten this season. Although that Indiana-Louisville matchup still awaits, for most of the league, the focus will now shift to Big Ten play. It should be an action packed next few months that should keep fans more than satisfied.
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.
For the first time this season, I am moving the BTPowerhouse Power Rankings away from a group vote and instead, I will be posting my own rankings. While I still love the idea of having a variety of Big Ten and national writers vote in our weekly poll, too many were inactive or inconsistent in casting their ballots. As such, this was the better option from an administrative aspect.
With that, here are BTPowerhouse's week seven Big Ten power rankings.
Big Ten Week Seven Power Rankings
#1 - Wisconsin Badgers +1
The Badgers sit atop this week’s BTPowerhouse Power Rankings after concluding non-conference play with a dominating win over Florida A&M. And when I say dominating, I mean dominating. Wisconsin won by 53 points, held every Florida A&M player below double-digits, and had a 53-21 rebounding advantage.
Wisconsin only gets one game this week and it will come on Tuesday at home against a feisty Rutgers squad. The good news is that Wisconsin projects as a double-digit favorite in the matchup and hasn’t lost at home since January of last season. Expect the Badgers to be 12-2 heading into next week.
#2 - Purdue Boilermakers -1
The Boilermakers finished non-conference play with two blowout victories over Western Illinois and Norfolk State at home. However, the big story for Purdue last week was the exceptional play of Caleb Swanigan, who is looking like the early season Big Ten Player of the Year favorite. His progression could very well determine whether Purdue can reach its lofty postseason goals this season.
However, Purdue will have its hands full this week with home games against Iowa and Minnesota. KenPom may project the Boilermakers as double-digit favorites in both matchupss, but these are key opportunities to add quality wins to the resume. Purdue needs to find a way to grab two wins or risk falling behind in the Big Ten title race.
#3 - Indiana Hoosiers --
The Hoosiers had two games last week and won both by more than 30 points against Delaware State and Austin Peay. It’s hard to complain much about Indiana’s performance in non-conference play this season and the Hoosiers will take that momentum into Big Ten play.
Indiana will now have an interesting week with Nebraska at home on Wednesday and Louisville on a neutral court on Saturday. This is the start of a huge stretch of games for Indiana that also includes matchups against Maryland and Wisconsin in the coming weeks. If Indiana can take down Nebraska and Louisville, it would be huge for the team’s resume and momentum going forward.
#4 - Maryland Terrapins --
The Terps only had one game last week and it came on a neutral court on Tuesday night against Charlotte. With the win, Maryland moved to 12-1 on the season and improved its currently winning streak to five games. Even if things haven’t been perfect in those wins, Maryland keeps finding ways to come out on top.
Maryland will have to hope it can continue building on its momentum as the Terps have home matchups against Illinois and Nebraska this week. Although Maryland figures to be a favorite in both games, these are two wins the team needs if it’s seriously going to contend in the Big Ten this year.
#5 - Minnesota Golden Gophers +2
The Golden Gophers are easily the Big Ten’s most improved team this season and finished up non-conference play by taking down Arkansas State at home on Friday night. Minnesota now sits at 12-1 overall and pulled off the incredible feat of doubling its non-conference win total (six) from last season.
Minnesota will now get arguably the program’s biggest home game in at least three seasons as the Gophers take on Michigan State on Tuesday. With a banged up Spartan squad, this is a huge opportunity for Minnesota to start building an NCAA Tournament resume. Minnesota will follow that with a tough road game against Purdue on Sunday.
#6 - Michigan Wolverines -1
The Wolverines made the risky choice of finishing non-conference play with a tricky Furman team at home on Thursday night and it nearly backfired. Michigan may have won the game, but the Wolverines had to work for the win from start to finish. Michigan only has one game this week and it comes on the road against Iowa on Sunday afternoon. Michigan will be looking for its first road win of the season in a key game for the team’s NCAA resume.
#7 - Northwestern Wildcats -1
The Wildcats wrapped up non-conference play with wins over IUPUI and Houston Baptist last week. Neither opponent was great, but the two wins pushed Northwestern to 11-2 overall as the team prepares to enter Big Ten play.
Northwestern will open with two road games this week against Penn State on Tuesday and Michigan State on Friday. If Northwestern is going to make the NCAA Tournament this March, it probably needs to go at least 1-1 in those games. Both games are winnable and this is the time to capitalize on a reeling Michigan State team.
#8 - Illinois Fighting Illini +2
The Illini finished non-conference play last Wednesday with a roar after the team took down Missouri in St. Louis. Illinois has now won six straight games with all coming against top 175 opponents and three against top 75 teams. The team will get two opportunities this week to prove its recent run wasn’t a mirage as it takes on Maryland on the road on Tuesday and Ohio State at home on Sunday. Both games are winnable and Illinois needs to steal at least one.
#9 - Iowa Hawkeyes +2
The Hawkeyes are another team on a roll after scoring wins over North Dakota and Delaware State last week. Aside from #Handshakegate, there wasn’t a ton to take from either win. Iowa will have to hope that success can hold up this week as the team faces Purdue on the road on Wednesday and Michigan at home on Sunday. Both opponents are rated in the top 30. The good news is that star freshman Tyler Cook could be closing in on a return from injury.
#10 - Ohio State Buckeyes -2
The Buckeyes were able to close out non-conference play with home wins over Youngstown State and UNC Asheville last week, but things didn’t come easy as the team had to seriously work for its win over UNC Asheville. The team will have to hope to improve on that performance as it faces Illinois on the road this week. With the team’s decent, but not great non-conference performance, this is a huge opportunity to steal a quality road win. The game projects as a tight matchup and Ohio State will have to hope it can come out on top.
#11 - Michigan State Spartans -2
The Spartans rebounded from the team’s embarrassing loss to Northeastern last week by taking down in-state Oakland on Wednesday night. It was an emotional win that Michigan State needed to move forward as a team this season.
Unfortunately, Michigan State won’t get much time to dwell on it as its faces arguably its most important week of the season. The Spartans go on the road against Minnesota on Tuesday night and face Northwestern at home on Friday. Both of these matchups probably need to be wins, but Michigan State absolutely cannot afford two losses. Otherwise, that NCAA Tournament dream will start looking like a longshot.
#12 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights --
The Scarlet Knights faced the team’s second quality opponent this season on Friday night on the road against Seton Hall. The game was largely competitive, but Rutgers fell short in the final minutes. Rutgers will hope to rebound from that loss this week with Wisconsin on the road on Tuesday and Penn State at home on Sunday. The goal should be 1-1 this week.
#13 - Penn State Nittany Lions --
The Nittany Lions finished non-conference play on a bit of an uptick with wins over St. John’s and Morgan State. Neither is anywhere close to great, but it pushed Penn State to 8-5 on the season entering Big Ten play.
However, things will get more challenging with Northwestern at home on Tuesday and Rutgers on the road on Sunday. Although both games are winnable, Penn State projects as an underdog in both matchups. As such, even a 1-1 performance by Penn State this week would be a good performance.
#14 - Nebraska Cornhuskers --
The Huskers avoided moving to a four-game skid last week as the team narrowly beat Southern at home on Tuesday. However, Nebraska sits at just 6-6 overall and looks like it could be headed for the worst record of the Tim Miles era in Lincoln.
The team will have to hope to pull off a major upset this week as it faces both Indiana and Maryland on the road. If Nebraska loses those two games (as expected), the team would fall to just 6-8 on the season and 2-8 over its last 10 games.