After months of waiting, we finally made it. The 2017-’18 college basketball season tipped off on Friday afternoon and it couldn’t have started much better. Fans got to enjoy a plethora of fun games, including some major upsets.
Of course, the weekend’s action also shook things up across the Big Ten. Indiana got upset on Friday and other teams like Michigan and Rutgers had to work to avoid losses as well. Meanwhile, teams like Michigan State and Purdue coasted to easy wins.
With that, here are BTPowerhouse's week one Big Ten power rankings.
Big Ten Week One Power Rankings
#1 - Purdue Boilermakers (+2)
The Boilermakers may not have gotten the offseason hype of others in the Big Ten, but Matt Painter and his staff have put together one of the best rosters in the nation. The team has impressive frontcourt and wing depth and an experienced backcourt that’s good enough to win a lot of games. All the pieces for a great season are there.
Over the weekend, Purdue played two bottom-dwellers and eviscerated each with impressive precision. The Boilermakers won the two matchups by a combined 100 points. And while neither SIU Edwardsville or Chicago State are good teams, Purdue absolutely dominated from start to finish and looked the part of an elite squad.
However, this week will bring much bigger challenges for the Boilermakers as the team gets Marquette on the road on Tuesday and Fairfield at home on Saturday. If Purdue can come out of Marquette with a win, things would look pretty swell for the team.
#2 - Michigan State Spartans (-1)
The Spartans only played one game this weekend and easily dispatched with North Florida on Friday night. Miles Bridges looked like his usual self, scoring 20 points, but it was true freshman Jaren Jackson that stole the show. Jackson finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds in his debut for the Spartans.
Given Michigan State’s win on Friday night, many are likely wondering why the Spartans moved down. Nobody in the Big Ten has played anybody of consequence yet and Michigan State did what it was supposed to do in its only regular season matchup so far. However, Michigan State dropped primarily due to its underwhelming exhibition performance and Purdue’s quality play. It was a combination of factors.
The good news for Michigan State is that the team can regain the top spot this week. The Spartans face Duke on a neutral court on Tuesday night and Stony Brook at home on Sunday. Beating an elite Blue Devil team would go a long way toward legitimizing Michigan State’s offseason hype.
#3 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (-2)
The Golden Gophers came into this season with high hopes and looked the part on Friday, walking to a 15-point victory over USC Upstate. The team got huge contributions from Jordan Murphy (35 points) and from Reggie Lynch (15 points, 13 rebounds) upfront.
Nonetheless, Minnesota’s biggest question remains: How players like Amir Coffey and Dupree McBrayer will progress from last season? Both looked decent on Friday, but far from special. We will see if they play better in the coming weeks.
This week, Minnesota will get a really good Providence team on the road on Monday night, Niagara at home on Wednesday, and West Carolina at home on Sunday. This week will tell us a lot about the Gophers. Not only because Providence figures to be a top 25 team this season, but also because Niagara is a dangerous team as well. The Purple Eagles knocked off St. Bonaventure last weekend, who was a top 100 KenPom team. Three wins here would be huge.
#4 - Maryland Terrapins (+1)
The Terps entered this season with a plethora of questions given the losses of players like Melo Trimble and Damonte Dodd. However, Maryland appears to have answered many of those queries, as the team coasted to wins over Stony Brook and Maryland Eastern Shore over the weekend. The win over Stony Brook was particularly impressive, as it came on a neutral floor.
Maryland’s big three have been dynamic. So far, Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter both have offensive ratings above 135 and Justin Jackson has been absolutely dominant on the boards. Things also appear to be developing around these two, as freshmen Bruno Fernando and Darryl Morsell have both seen productive playing time.
Things are set to get far more difficult this week, however, as Maryland will face Butler on Wednesday and Bucknell on Saturday. The Bulldogs are coming off three straight NCAA Tournament appearances and Bucknell is projected as a top 100 team. Two wins would be huge for Maryland’s resume.
#5 - Wisconsin Badgers (+3)
The Badgers faced South Carolina State and Yale over the weekend and coasted to easy wins against both teams. The first matchup wasn’t expected to be all that intriguing, but Yale was rated as a top 100 team entering its game against Wisconsin. Even if Yale had some roster and injury concerns, Wisconsin still ended up winning by 28 points. A great opening weekend win.
Wisconsin only gets one matchup this week and it comes at home on Thursday night against a talented Xavier team. Since the Musketeers are one of the better defensive teams in the country, this will be an opportunity for Wisconsin to prove that it has other offensive options outside of Ethan Happ. My guess is that the Badgers will have their work cut out to come away with a win.
#6 - Northwestern Wildcats (-2)
The Wildcats entered this season with high expectations after making the NCAA Tournament last March. And with so many important returners, many voters had Northwestern ranked inside the top 25 entering last weekend.
Unfortunately, things got off to a poor start as Northwestern ended up in a tight battle with Loyola (MD) on Friday night. The team had a horrid shooting night and struggled to convert from the free throw line as well. Opening weekend struggles don’t always translate to bigger things, but this result was certainly a red flag.
Northwestern will now get Saint Peter’s at home on Monday night, Creighton at home on Wednesday night, and La Salle on a neutral court on Saturday. If the Wildcats are going to get through these games unblemished, the team’s play will have to improve substantially from what it did against Loyola (MD) last weekend.
#7 - Iowa Hawkeyes (--)
The Hawkeyes opened up regular season play with Chicago State and Alabama State at home over the weekend. Iowa ended up scoring two blowout victories. Neither game was remotely competitive, despite the absence of Nicholas Baer.
Luka Garza was the most encouraging takeaway for the Hawkeyes over the weekend. The freshman center scored 16 points in the first game and had a double-double in the second matchup. If Garza can continue his stellar play, Iowa figures to be one of the better teams in the league.
Despite the promising start, Iowa will remain an unknown for at least a few more days. Iowa’s only game this week will be a against a terrible Grambling State team at home on Thursday. Better opponents will arrive soon thereafter and we will get a better idea as to how the Hawkeyes compare with the rest of the league.
#8 - Michigan Wolverines (-2)
The Wolverines figured to have a celebratory atmosphere on Saturday night. Michigan was raising its 2017 Big Ten Tournament title banner and several recent alums were in attendance to join in on the event. All signs pointed to a fun night for fans.
Unfortunately, North Florida had other ideas. The Ospreys pushed the Wolverines for much of the night and were competitive for a large hunk of the second half. Michigan ended up pulling away to grab a 20-point win, but the final score was a misleading one.
Michigan will get two more tune-up games this week with Central Michigan at home on Monday and Southern Miss at home on Thursday. However, the team will need to find a way to improve its play from the point guard position. Otherwise, things could get rough when the team heads to Maui later this month.
#9 - Penn State Nittany Lions (--)
The Nittany Lions faced two underwhelming opponents over the weekend and saw mixed results in the two games. Penn State was pushed significantly by Campbell on Friday night, but scored a relatively easy win against Fairleigh Dickinson on Sunday afternoon.
Penn State will likely have some more growing pains this season. The question will be whether it ends up costing them a game. However, with home games against Montana on Wednesday and Columbia on Friday this week, don’t expect a loss this week.
#10 - Ohio State Buckeyes (+1)
The Buckeyes figured to be one of the Big Ten’s weakest teams heading into this season. However, Ohio State looked solid over the weekend, scoring a blowout victory over Robert Morris on Friday and a double-digit win against Radford on Sunday. Neither opponent was great, but both were wins.
Ohio State still has a long way to go before fans should buy into the team’s improved play, but the core appears to be there. The team will get Texas Southern at home on Thursday and Northeastern at home on Sunday. This will be Ohio State’s last chance to improve before heading to Portland to face a loaded Gonzaga squad.
#11 - Illinois Fighting Illini (+2)
The Illini were another team that faced two underwhelming opponents and saw mixed results over the weekend. Illinois beat Southern by 47 points on Friday night, but only beat Tennessee Martin by three on Sunday. The two results leave us in the same place we were before the season: With a lot of questions.
Perhaps the most encouraging sign for the Illini has been the play of the true freshman Mark Smith. He had a 120 offensive rating on Friday and 13 points on Sunday. Graduate transfer Mark Alstork has also looked solid in the backcourt. If Brad Underwood can find some surrounding depth, watch out.
This week, Illinois will get DePaul at home on Friday and Marshall at home on Sunday. Neither opponent is phenomenal, but both are better than the two teams Illinois faced last weekend. As such, improvement will be needed.
#12 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (+2)
The Huskers only played one game over the weekend and came around with a four-point win over Eastern Illinois at home. The Panthers aren’t a great team, but are likely better than their current ranking of 195 on KenPom. As such, Nebraska’s win probably ends up being a tad more impressive than it currently looks.
Unfortunately, things will get tougher this week with North Texas at home on Monday, St. John’s on the road on Thursday, and North Dakota at home on Sunday. Nebraska needs to go (at least) 2-1 against that slate. Otherwise, things could start to head off the tracks with more challenging games coming in the next few weeks.
#13 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (-1)
The Scarlet Knights are 2-0 coming out of last weekend, but were another team with mixed results. The team cruised to a 56-point win on Friday, but narrowly scraped by Central Connecticut on Sunday. This lackluster performance dropped Rutgers to 145th nationally on KenPom.
Rutgers is set to face two more underwhelming teams at home this week with Cleveland State on Tuesday and Coppin State on Sunday. Neither will tell us much about the Scarlet Knights. However, both need to be wins.
#14 - Indiana Hoosiers (-4)
The Hoosiers had an absolutely disastrous weekend. The team shockingly dropped its home opener against Indiana State on Friday (by 21 points!) and then had to battle to get past a horrible Howard team at home on Sunday. The two games dropped the Hoosiers nearly 20 spots on KenPom.
Indiana’s biggest problems of the weekend arose from lackluster defense play and underwhelming backcourt production. On Friday, Indiana State shot 17-for-26 (.654) from three-point range and Indiana’s backcourt responded with unproductive play, including a dreadful three points from Devonte Green in 25 minutes of playing time. Things improved against Howard, but these two issues are likely to plague the Hoosiers for the duration of the season.
Unfortunately, Indiana won’t get much time to lick its wounds with a road trip to Seton Hall awaiting on Wednesday and a game at home against South Florida on Sunday. The Hoosiers will likely drop the game to Seton Hall, but cannot afford to drop both matchups. Otherwise, the pressure will be on.