Entering conference play, the Big Ten had just three teams ranked teams, and it looked like a top heavy league. Now, halfway through conference play, those three teams have a combined nine Big Ten losses, and two other teams have joined them in the rankings (Iowa and Indiana).
Iowa and Indiana not only have broken in to the rankings during the first half of conference play, but sit at the top with matching 8-1 conference records. Both teams, however, suffered their first conference loss this past week, resulting in a subsequent drop in their ranking.
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.
Maryland Terrapins (19-3)
- AP: #4 USA Today: #3
In a statement week for the Terrapins, Mark Turgeon's squad handed Iowa their first conference loss and then followed it up with a road win at Ohio State. Rasheed Sulaimon and Robert Carter came up huge for Maryland against the Hawkeyes as they each recorded 17 points and shot over 50% from the field. Maryland also forced Jarrod Uthoff in to his worst game of the season as he scored just 9 points on 2-13 shooting.
These wins bumped Maryland back in to the top-5 where they were for many of the early weeks. The Terrapins will play at Nebraska on Wednesday before returning home to face Purdue. Maryland needs to win both games to keep pace in the Big Ten as they remain a game back from Iowa and Indiana.
Iowa Hawkeyes (17-4)
-AP: #5 USA Today #7
The Hawkeyes weren't going to go undefeated in the Big Ten. They were going to lose eventually, and that loss ended up coming in College Park against Maryland. As mentioned previously, Iowa just could not survive Jarrod Uthoff's terrible shooting night. The Hawkeyes were able to salvage a win last week against Northwestern, and stay in the top-5 in the AP Poll.
In possibly their easiest stretch of the season, Iowa will face Penn State at home Wednesday before traveling to Illinois Sunday. Two wins will keep Iowa on top of the Big Ten with no games left against Maryland, Michigan state, or Purdue. Look for Iowa to stay right where they are in the polls the rest of the season, and challenge for a #1 seed.
Michigan State Spartans (19-4)
- AP: #10 USA Today: #10
After dropping three in a row, the Spartans have now won three straight after beating Northwestern and Rutgers this past week. Tom Izzo's squad won both games by more than 30 points, and seem to have found their groove again. In the two games, Denzel Valentine posted a combined 39 points, 13 rebounds, and 13 assists.
Just two of Michigan State's remaining 8 games are against ranked teams so this is a great opportunity for the Spartans to keep rising in the polls and get back in the conversation for a #1 seed. The Spartans will have a week off before traveling to Michigan to face a hot Wolverines squad on Saturday.
Purdue Boilermakers (19-4)
- AP: #18 USA Today: #16
Purdue rebounded from their loss to Iowa with wins over Minnesota and Nebraska this past week. Vince Edwards carried Purdue on the road against the Golden Gophers scoring 24 points for the Boilermakers.
The Boilermakers will now have the week off, but will have a lot of work to do as they prepare to face Maryland on the road on Saturday. This will be a good measuring stick for Purdue as they are just 0-2 against ranked teams this season.
Indiana Hoosiers (18-4)
-AP: #22 USA Today: #21
The Hoosiers lost for the first time in their last 13 contests, losing 82-79 in overtime at Wisconsin. This defeat dropped Indiana a couple spots in the rankings, but squeaking by Minnesota 74-68 on Saturday saved them from falling completely out. Thomas Brynat led Tom Crean's squad with a career high 23 points.
While Indiana continues to sit at the top of the conference with Iowa, the Hoosiers still have to prove themselves as they have yet to face any of the other four ranked teams. The Hoosiers have two road games this week as they travel to Michigan Wednesday and Penn State Saturday. Winning these two games will be key for Indiana before they finish the season with 5 out of 7 ranked opponents.
We've been talking about Michigan for a couple weeks now, and they are very close to breaking through. The Wolverines have now won 4 in a row and have a 7-2 record in the Big Ten. John Beilein's team has a great opportunity this week as they have home games against Indiana and Michigan State. A big key for the Wolverines will be if star guard Caris LeVert is available for these games after missing the month of January with a leg injury.