Just when we thought we had the Big Ten figured out for this season, the games took place and had to screw up all our projections. Nebraska went on a run, Minnesota decided to win at Purdue, and teams like Indiana and Michigan decided to struggle.
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 nine Big Ten power rankings.
Big Ten Week Nine Power Rankings
#1 - Purdue Boilermakers (+1)
The Boilermakers put together what could have been Purdue’s best single week of the season with a road win over Ohio State and a home win over Big Ten favorite, Wisconsin. The two wins pushed Purdue to 14-3 overall and in strong position to contend for the Big Ten title and an impressive seed in March.
Purdue only gets one game this week and it will come on the road against Iowa. Just a few weeks ago, Purdue faced Iowa in West Lafayette in a matchup that ended with a blowout win for the Boilermakers. Purdue will be hoping for a similar result this time.
#2 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (+1)
The Golden Gophers continued the team’s remarkable turnaround this week and recorded key wins against Northwestern on the road and Ohio State at home. Minnesota is now 15-2 overall and seems destined to make this year’s NCAA Tournament after missing it in each of the previous three seasons.
However, things could get tricky this week as Minnesota rematches with Michigan State on the road on Wednesday and faces Penn State on the road on Saturday. Two wins would give Minnesota astronomical odds to make the NCAA Tournament.
#3 - Wisconsin Badgers (-2)
The Badgers had an incredibly tough set of games this week as Wisconsin faced both Indiana and Purdue on the road. Things went well in the first matchup, but Purdue proved to be too much for the Badgers as Wisconsin fell to 13-3 with the loss.
The good news is that things should get considerably easier for Wisconsin as the Badgers only have one game this week and it comes at home against a struggling Ohio State team. It should be a great chance for Wisconsin to get back on track.
#4 - Maryland Terrapins (+3)
The Terrapins only had one game this week and it went well as Maryland went on the road and recorded a solid win against a respectable Michigan team. It was Maryland’s first win inside the state of Michigan since December of 2014.
Maryland will now look to build on that success with two important games this week. Things will start at home against a desperate Indiana team and will conclude on the road against an Illinois team that Maryland beat to open league play this season. Maryland needs to find a way to win at least one of these two games.
#5 - Northwestern Wildcats (+1)
The Wildcats had a mixed week of play as the team fell at home against Minnesota, but responded with a huge road win against a red hot Nebraska squad. Things weren’t always pretty, but Northwestern is now 13-4 on the season with two winnable games upcoming on the schedule. Northwestern will get Rutgers on the road on Thursday and a home matchup with Iowa on Sunday. Both need to be wins.
#6 - Michigan State Spartans (-1)
The Spartans appeared to have turned the corner on the team’s lackluster non-conference season earlier this month, but after Saturday’s loss to Penn State, many of the same questions are reemerging. Michigan State has talent, but can it show enough consistency to meet its postseason goals?
Michigan State will get an absolutely crucial set of games this week as the Spartans face Minnesota at home on Wednesday and go on the road to face Ohio State on Sunday. Both are winnable, but neither is anywhere close to guaranteed. As such, two wins would do wonders for Michigan State’s postseason hopes.
#7 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (+3)
The Cornhuskers entered last week’s BTPowerhouse Power Rankings as the hottest team in the Big Ten after winning on the road against Indiana and Maryland in back-to-back games. While Nebraska did follow that up with a win against Iowa, things did cool off as the Huskers fell at home to Northwestern over the weekend.
Nebraska has to be considered a dark horse NCAA Tournament contender considering the team’s hot start to Big Ten play, but that window is awfully narrow. Nebraska only has one game this week and it comes on the road against a reeling Michigan team. If Nebraska can grab the win, that NCAA dream will keep building.
#8 - Indiana Hoosiers (-4)
The Hoosiers have undeniably been the most disappointing team in the Big Ten so far during conference play and things didn’t get much better last week. Indiana fell at home in a competitive game against Wisconsin and followed that loss by knocking off an underwhelming Illinois squad at home over the weekend.
Indiana has two games this week and they come against Maryland on the road and Rutgers at home. If Indiana is going to hold onto its already slim Big Ten title hopes, both of those games need to be wins.
#9 - Iowa Hawkeyes (-1)
The Hawkeyes had an underwhelming performance this week with a loss against Nebraska on the road on Thursday and a close win against Rutgers at home on Sunday. With the split, Iowa sits at 10-7 overall with a home game against Purdue and a road game against Northwestern coming this week. It’s hard to imagine Iowa making an NCAA Tournament run without winning at least one of those two games.
#10 - Michigan Wolverines (-1)
The Wolverines really underwhelmed this week as the team narrowly avoided a home upset loss to Penn State on Wednesday and followed that by losing at home to Maryland on Saturday. Michigan is now 1-2 in Big Ten play and is still searching for its first quality win of the conference season.
Unfortunately, Michigan won’t get any easy opportunities this week as the team goes on the road to face Illinois on Wednesday and returns to face a dangerous Nebraska team at home on Saturday. Both are winnable, but neither is guaranteed, which should raise concern for a Michigan team that’s lost two of its last three games.
#11 - Penn State Nittany Lions (+2)
The Nittany Lions probably aren’t going to the NCAA Tournament this season, but it’s hard not to feel excited about where Penn State’s program is heading, especially after the team pulled off the surprising upset of Michigan State last Saturday. Penn State is now 10-7 overall and should be in position to finish with a record above .500.
Things will be tough this week with Minnesota at home, but if Penn State can pull off another upset, it might be time to readjust season expectations for this group.
#12 - Illinois Fighting Illini (-1)
The Illini only had one game last week and it ended badly as the team went on the road and got blown out by Indiana. While Illinois was able to cut the lead to single-digits a few times, Indiana was never really in position to lose. As such, Illinois fell to 11-5 on the season and 1-2 in Big Ten play.
This next stretch figures to be “gut check” time for Illinois. With Michigan and Maryland at home this week, there are two opportunities to score quality wins and get back on track in Big Ten play. However, two losses could very well push the Illini to the NIT at season’s end. The pressure will be on John Groce and his staff to avoid a slump.
#13 - Ohio State Buckeyes (-1)
The Buckeyes are in a free fall. After entering conference play with a respectable 10-3 record, most fans had hoped for the best. However, with losses to Purdue and Minnesota last week, Ohio State is now 0-3 in the Big Ten as it’s preparing for a road trip to face Wisconsin and a home game against Michigan State this week.
Like Illinois and Iowa, this is a crucial stretch for Ohio State. Tough slate or not, Ohio State needs to find a way to come away with a win against either Michigan State or Wisconsin. And considering that Wisconsin has won its last 15 home games, that Michigan State matchup is seeming like a “must win” for the Buckeyes.
#14 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (--)
The Scarlet Knights had two games this week and lost both matchups. The two losses came on the road against Michigan State and on the road against Iowa. For awhile, it looked like Rutgers might be able to pull off the upset against Iowa, but things fell apart in the last stretch and Rutgers ended up coming short.
As I continue to say, this team is better. Unfortunately, it’s just not going to show up in the win-loss record this season. The Big Ten’s bottom group is simply too good.