With just five or six conference games remaining for each team, the time is now for programs to make one final push at the NCAA tournament. The week 15 polls show five Big Ten teams that have all but solidified their spot in March and are just playing for seeding at this point.
Despite all three picking up a loss in the past week, three Big Ten teams remained in the top 10 in both the AP and Coaches Polls. The top-10 spots this year have been anything but stagnant this season as each week at least three or four top 10 schools seem to be knocked off. Iowa, Maryland, and Michigan State will look to avoid continuing this trend for second straight week.
Today, we take a look at how the five ranked Big Ten teams fared last week, and a peak ahead at what team may see their name in the rankings next.
Iowa Hawkeyes (20-5)
-AP: #4 USA Today #6
The Hawkeyes saw a slight drop in the rankings this week after suffering their second loss in Big Ten play at Indiana. The Hawkeyes rebounded by beating Minnesota on Sunday at home. While a 4 point win over a winless Big Ten team makes it seem like Iowa struggled, Minnesota has been much better of late. Jarrod Uthoff and Peter Jok carried the Hawkeyes cobining for 51 of 75 points.
Iowa's lone matchup this week will be in Happy Valley against the Nittany Lions Wednesday. The Hawkeyes might want to show up for this game, as Tom Crean found out two weeks ago what can happen if you take Penn State for granted.
Maryland Terrapins (22-4)
- AP: #6 USA Today: #5
Wisconsin ran in to a little bad luck last week as they faced the hottest team in the Big Ten Saturday in Wisconsin. The Badgers beat Maryland pretty easily on the road 70-57. The only other game of the week for the Terrapins was a win over Division II Bowie State. This dropped Maryland down from #2 in both polls to 5 and 6.
The Terrapins will be forced to travel to Minnesota Thursday without star freshman Diamond Stone as he was suspended a game for an incident that occurred Saturday against Wisconsin. Maryland will then return home to face Michigan on Sunday.
Michigan State Spartans (21-5)
- AP: #8 USA Today: #9
In one of the best games in the Big Ten so far, Michigan State lost in overtime at Purdue 82-81. This wouldn't end up affecting the Spartans ranking much, however, as Tom Izzo's squad had a big bounce back win against Indiana on Sunday. Denzel Valentine lit it up with 30 points and 13 assists and Matt Costello wasn't bad shooting 10-12 with a couple monster jams.
The Spartans will now play host to red hot Wisconsin on Thursday. This is the only game of the week for Michigan State as they get the weekend off. A win will solidify the Spartans as a top-10 team for the remainder of the season as their final four games are against Ohio State (2), Penn State, and Rutgers.
Purdue Boilermakers (20-6)
- AP: #17 USA Today: #16
As was the story with the first three teams on this list, Purdue also went 1-1 this week. The Boilermakers followed up their best win of the year against Michigan State with a loss on the road to Michigan. Senior center AJ Hammons was huge for Purdue with 19 points and 13 rebounds against the Spartans.
The Boilermakers will face Northwestern at home on Tuesday before facing a tough test at Indiana Saturday. This game provides Purdue with a chance to register their first quality road win since Wisconsin in late December.
Indiana Hoosiers (20-6)
-AP: #22 USA Today: #21
While Indiana jumped back in to the rankings, they finished the week with a win and a loss. The quality of opponent for the Hoosiers was at an all time high as they faced the #4 and #8 team in the country in a matter of 4 days. The Hoosiers did what they had to do, protecting their home court against Iowa before falling at Michigan State.
While Indiana finds themselves back in the top 25, they will probably have to have a perfect week to stay there. This means winning two home games against Nebraska and Purdue. The game against the Boilermakers will go a long way in determining what Big Ten team is the 4th highest ranked behind the three top 10 teams in the conference.
One of the hottest teams in the country is now being recognized as such as Wisconsin has won 7 games in a row. The Badgers are high up in others receiving votes and will break in to the top 25 if they can knock off Michigan State on the road Thursday. This may seem like a stretch, but Wisconsin proved to have the ability to knock off top 10 road teams just this past weekend against Maryland. The Badgers will end the week at home against Illinois.