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2016-’17 Week 8 Big Ten Power Rankings: Minnesota Rises

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Check out BTP's power rankings for the Big Ten.

NCAA Basketball: Minnesota at Purdue Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

Conference play for the Big Ten officially tipped off last week and for the first time this season, the BTPowerhouse Power Rankings will incorporate some league games into its analysis. The last week has featured plenty of surprising results and it’s left things in a unique position across the Big Ten.

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 are composed entirely of my evaluation of the teams at this moment and their current momentum. This isn’t a projection of where I believe each team will finish, but rather, just a snapshot of where teams are trending across the league at the moment.

With that, here are BTPowerhouse's week eight Big Ten power rankings.

Big Ten Week Eight Power Rankings

#1 - Wisconsin Badgers (--)

The Badgers remained atop this week’s BTPowerhouse Power Rankings after moving to 1-0 in Big Ten play with an easy win over Rutgers at home. Wisconsin is now 12-2 on the season with its only losses coming against ranked Creighton and North Carolina teams away from home. In short, it’s been quite a start to the 2016-’17 season.

Wisconsin will now prepare for arguably its toughest week of the entire season with back-to-back road games against Indiana and Purdue. If Wisconsin can even go 1-1 through these two games, it would be huge for the team’s Big Ten title chances. A 2-0 performance would make Wisconsin the overwhelming conference favorite.

#2 - Purdue Boilermakers (--)

The Boilermakers had a mixed week of play as the team blew the doors off Iowa at home on Wednesday, but fell in overtime to Minnesota at home on Sunday. Although the loss to Minnesota will be one that stings in the weeks ahead, Purdue is still one of the conference’s top teams and should figure into the title race.

This week will be an incredibly important one for Purdue as the team travels to face Ohio State on Thursday and returns to face Wisconsin at home on Sunday. Purdue desperately needs to find a way to win at least one of its next two games and two wins would cement the Boilermakers as title contenders.

#3 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (+2)

The Golden Gophers may have started the week by giving away a game to Michigan State on Tuesday night, but the team recovered well by scoring a massive road win against Purdue on Sunday. The team is now 13-2 overall and is well on the way to an NCAA Tournament appearance, despite a horrid 2015-’16 season.

Minnesota will now get two tricky games this week as the team heads on the road to face Northwestern on Thursday and returns home to face Ohio State on Sunday. Minnesota needs to find a way to go at least 1-1 in that stretch.

One additional note. Obviously, many are going to be curious why Minnesota is at No. 3 and Purdue at No. 2, despite Minnesota beating Purdue last week. The reason is pretty simple. While recent play is valued more heavily in these rankings, it’s not the sole determining factor. Purdue’s overall trajectory is still better, which is why it ended up ranked above Minnesota this week.

#4 - Indiana Hoosiers (-1)

The Hoosiers are in a complete free fall. After starting the season with an 8-1 record, highlighted by wins over Kansas and North Carolina, Indiana has now lost three of its last five games. The worst of that stretch was this last week as the Hoosiers fell to Nebraska at home on Wednesday and Louisville on a neutral court on Saturday.

Indiana will now have to try and regroup as the team faces an incredibly important stretch of the season. The Hoosiers get Wisconsin at home on Tuesday and Illinois at home on Saturday. Even one loss in those two games would be devastating to Indiana’s hopes of repeating as Big Ten champions.

#5 - Michigan State Spartans (+6)

The Spartans may still be trying to turn the page on an underwhelming non-conference performance, but last week was a big one for Michigan State. The team not only scored a key win over Minnesota on the road, but it followed that up with a home road over a rising Northwestern squad. Michigan State now sits at 10-5 overall.

Michigan State now gets two manageable games with Rutgers at home and Penn State on the road this week. Both figure to be wins, especially if freshman star Miles Bridges returns to the lineup this week.

#6 - Northwestern Wildcats (+1)

The Wildcats had two road games last week and split them by beating Penn State and losing against Michigan State. Northwestern is now 12-3 overall, but all three losses have come against quality teams (Butler, Michigan State, and Notre Dame) away from home. Northwestern will now look to get back on track with a home game against Minnesota and a road game against Nebraska this week.

#7 - Maryland Terrapins (-3)

The Terps appeared to have two wins on the schedule heading into last week as Maryland was set to face Illinois and Nebraska at home. Things went well against Illinois, but Maryland couldn’t get the job done against a red hot Cornhusker team on Sunday. Although Maryland still has an impressive 13-2 overall record, the schedule is set to get much more difficult in the weeks to come. That stretch starts with Michigan on the road on Saturday for Maryland’s first conference road game.

#8 - Iowa Hawkeyes (+1)

The Hawkeyes are red hot. The team has won six of the team’s last seven games and scored a huge win on Sunday at home against Michigan in overtime. Iowa still has a lot of work to do to try and get into the NCAA Tournament conversation, but it will get opportunities to add wins this week against Nebraska at home on Thursday and Rutgers on the road on Sunday.

#9 - Michigan Wolverines (-3)

The Wolverines only had one game last week and dropped it on the road to Iowa in overtime. Michigan really needed a quality road win and lost an opportunity to do just that in Iowa City. Michigan will hope to rebound this week with home games against Penn State on Wednesday and Maryland on Saturday. Both would be nice wins to add to a resume that still needs some improvement.

#10 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (+4)

The Huskers had one of the most impressive weeks any Big Ten team has seen in quite some time. Nebraska started with a road win over Indiana and then followed it up with another road win against Maryland. Those two teams have been largely unbeatable at home in recent years and pulling road wins off against both is beyond impressive.

Fans will get to see whether this newfound success is real as Nebraska gets to face rising Iowa and Northwestern squads at home this week. Two wins would legitimately establish Nebraska as a potential NCAA bubble team.

#11 - Illinois Fighting Illini (-3)

The Illini had a really rough start to Big Ten play as the team got blown out by Maryland on the road. However, Illinois responded well by scoring a key win against Ohio State on Sunday. Illinois now sits at 11-4 overall and has won seven of its last eight games. Illinois only gets one game this week and it will come on the road against Indiana on Saturday. A win could massively change the direction of Illinois this season.

#12 - Ohio State Buckeyes (-2)

The Buckeyes continued the team’s underwhelming performance this season as Ohio State dropped its Big Ten opener on the road against Illinois. With the loss, Ohio State is 4-4 over its last eight games with no wins over top 100 teams. Ohio State will hope to rebound with two really difficult games against Purdue at home on Thursday and Minnesota on the road on Sunday.

#13 - Penn State Nittany Lions (--)

The Nittany Lions had two games this week and split them by falling to Northwestern at home and rebounding with a road win against Rutgers. Unfortunately, things will be tough this week as Penn State faces Michigan on the road and Michigan State at home.

#14 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (-2)

The Scarlet Knights have officially been exposed. After racking up an impressive 11-1 record to start the season, Rutgers has now dropped its last three games and has yet to record a win against at top 150 opponent. Unfortunately, that first quality win likely won’t be this week as Rutgers gets road games against Michigan State and Iowa.