Although college basketball technically started nearly two weeks ago, last week was the first full (and real) week of action. More importantly, it was the first week to include marquee matchups for the Big Ten, highlighted by the Champions Classic. As such, we now have far more to analyze in this week’s set of rankings.
With that, let’s take a look at BTPowerhouse's week two Big Ten power rankings.
Big Ten Week Two Power Rankings
#1 - Purdue Boilermakers (--)
The Boilermakers remain at the top of this week’s power rankings after putting together another week of quality play. Purdue went on the road and beat a solid Marquette team on Tuesday and followed that up by absolutely blasting Fairfield on Saturday night. It was the team’s third 100-point performance so far this season.
While Purdue has yet to attract the national attention of others in the league, fans should take notice. This team has all the pieces to make some serious noise in the Big Ten and next March. Not only is the team undefeated, but it’s also moved up to 11th nationally on KenPom. And there’s still room to grow.
This week, Purdue will head to the Bahamas to participate in the Battle For Atlantis. The team tips off against Tennessee on Wednesday. Purdue will likely face Villanova in the second round, if the Boilermakers can get past the Volunteers. Other teams participating in the event include Arizona, North Carolina State, and SMU.
Given that Arizona and Villanova are the top two teams on KenPom, I have a hard time believing Purdue will make it through this week unscathed. However, this is a great opportunity for the team to show that it belongs in the national conversation.
#2 - Michigan State Spartans (--)
The Spartans played the toughest matchup of any Big Ten team last week and came up short against Duke on Tuesday night. It was a disappointing loss, given the hype for the team coming into this season. Michigan State then rebounded with a win over Stony Brook on Sunday afternoon.
While a 1-1 record during last week isn’t disappointing given the schedule, how the games actually unfolded raised some red flags for Michigan State. To start, Michigan State was getting handled by Duke in the first half, until Marvin Bagley went out with injury. While few teams have a player of Bagley’s caliber, that’s not a good sign for a team hoping to make the Final Four at season’s end.
Additionally, it took some time for Michigan State to pull away in Sunday’s matchup against a Stony Brook team who is barely ranked within KenPom’s top 200. Michigan State won by 22, so I don’t want to overreact, but there were some bumps.
Michigan State will now head to Portland to play in the Phil Knight Invitational. The team opens against DePaul and will likely get Oregon on Friday. This is a great opportunity for Michigan State to build its resume.
#3 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (--)
The Golden Gophers went into last week with a lot on the line. The team faced a challenging road test at Providence on Monday night and a tricky game against Niagara on Wednesday and another against Western Carolina on Sunday.
And there’s little debating that Minnesota answered the bell.
To start, Minnesota knocked off a really good Providence team by double-digits on the road on Monday and then scored easy victories against Niagara and Western Carolina to improve to 4-0 on the season. The Golden Gophers are now up to No. 29 on KenPom and poised to move up even further in the coming weeks.
This week, Minnesota gets Alabama A&M on Tuesday and challenging neutral site games against UMass and Alabama on Friday and Saturday, respectively. Considering that the Crimson Tide are considered to be a top 25 team by many, Minnesota could really solidify itself as a nationally relevant team with three more wins this week.
#4 - Maryland Terrapins (--)
The Terps have gotten little national attention, but Maryland scored two solid wins last week, as the team beat Butler on Wednesday and Bucknell on Saturday. The latter was more competitive than fans might have liked, but both were top 100 win that should add to the Maryland’s resume.
Perhaps the most exciting parts of Maryland’s emergence have been freshmen Bruno Fernando and Darryl Morsell. Both have played major minutes fro the Terps and been productive. The future looks bright in College Park.
Maryland will now move on to face Jackson State on Monday, St. Bonaventure on a neutral court on Friday, and then either New Mexico or TCU on Saturday. Given that TCU is projected as a top 25 team, it seems likely that Maryland will face TCU on Saturday, should the Terps get past St. Bonaventure.
#5 - Wisconsin Badgers (--)
The Badgers only had one game last week and dropped it at home against Xavier on Thursday night. It was a back-and-forth affair where Wisconsin actually had 71.7 percent odds to win with less than three minutes remaining. Simply put, it was a game that Wisconsin could have won, but let slip away.
Wisconsin will now head to Kansas City for the Hall of Fame Classic, where the team gets a ranked Baylor team on Monday and then either Creighton or UCLA on Tuesday. The Badgers need to find a way to go (at least) 1-1 in those games. The team then returns home to face Milwaukee on Friday.
#6 - Iowa Hawkeyes (+1)
The Hawkeyes have played, arguably, the nation’s weakest schedule so far this season. KenPom ranks it 350th nationally and none of the team’s three games have been against a team ranked among the top 340 on KenPom. It’s a remarkably bad slate. As such, we still don’t know all that much about Iowa so far.
However, the team will start getting some challenges this week. Iowa will head to the Cayman Islands this week and tip off against Louisiana Lafayette on Monday and then face South Dakota State or Wyoming on Tuesday. Cincinnati and Richmond are also teams competing in the tournament. Iowa needs to come out with two wins in this event to help build its resume.
#7 - Northwestern Wildcats (-1)
The Wildcats entered last week at 2-0 with three challenging games on the docket. Odds seemed high that the Wildcats would drop at least one, but if the team was truly a top 25 unit, going 2-1 was a reasonable goal.
Unfortunately, Northwestern lost a competitive home game to Creighton on Wednesday and then got blown out by Texas Tech on Sunday. Even though the Wildcats beat La Salle on Saturday, it was a tremendously disappointing performance. Northwestern didn’t look anywhere close to a top 25 team.
This week, Northwestern won’t get a chance to redeem itself, but will get a matchup against Sacred Heart on Friday. The team needs to focus on addressing its issues and avoiding an upset. Not much else can be gained this week.
#8 - Michigan Wolverines (--)
The Wolverines had two games last week and scored wins over Central Michigan and Southern Miss. Neither win was particularly impressive, especially considering that Michigan was in a dogfight late against Central Michigan and let Southern Miss hit 46.2 percent of its three-point attempts. Nonetheless, Michigan is still 3-0.
Things will, however, get far more difficult this week. Michigan will head to Maui and opens up against LSU on Monday evening. Should Michigan win, the team will likely face Notre Dame on Tuesday. The key will be avoiding a loss to LSU on opening night because, should Michigan lose that game, it will face Chaminade on Tuesday, who will likely only hurt the team’s RPI rating.
#9 - Penn State Nittany Lions (--)
The Nittany Lions remain undefeated after beating Montana and Columbia at home last week. Both wins were by double-digits. In fact, Penn State has won all four of its games this season by at least 10 points, an encouraging sign.
Like several other teams on this list, things will get far more challenging for Penn State this week. The Nittany Lions will get Pittsburgh on a neutral court on Monday and then Oklahoma State or Texas A&M on Tuesday. While Pitt has looked disappointing, the other two teams look solid. Penn State will then return home to face Oral Roberts on Friday. Three wins this week would do wonders for the team’s resume.
#10 - Ohio State Buckeyes (--)
The Buckeyes continue to look improved. The team faced Texas Southern and Northeastern at home last week and came away with convincing wins in both games. In fact, Ohio State is now up to 67th nationally on KenPom, which is a pretty substantial jump from the team’s preseason ranking of 78th.
Like Michigan State, Ohio State will now head to Portland for the Phil Knight Invitational. The Buckeyes will open up against a talented Gonzaga team on Thursday. Fans will hope that the team can show some fortitude in that matchup, even if Ohio State likely ends up on the losing end.
#11 - Illinois Fighting Illini (--)
The Illini had home matchups against DePaul and Marshall last week and came out with wins in both games. Neither opponent was all that good, but Illinois does appear to be trending up, at least in the advanced stats.
Illinois will get two ‘buy’ games this week against Augustana (IL) on Wednesday and North Carolina Central on Friday. The team desperately needs to go 2-0 in those matchups to prime for a challenging road game against Wake Forest on the 28th.
#12 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (+1)
The Scarlet Knights are another team that has played an abysmal schedule to date. Rutgers has played four teams well outside KenPom’s top 250 teams so far with all four games coming at home. The good news, of course, is that Rutgers has won all four matchups.
This week, Rutgers will get more of the same with home matchups against Bryant on Tuesday and East Carolina on Friday. These both need to be wins. Rutgers fans will have to hope the team continues to improve over the next week before the more challenging games arrive in late November.
#13 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (-1)
The Huskers entered this season as one of the Big Ten’s biggest question marks. While most projected Nebraska to struggle, the team added a plethora of newcomers to its roster. If some of the new players could hit the ground running, Nebraska had the potential to do some damage in Big Ten play.
Unfortunately, four games into the season, that doesn’t appear to be the case. Nebraska won its games against North Texas and North Dakota this week, but got blasted by St. John’s on the road on Thursday. Admittedly, St. John’s isn’t terrible, but the Red Storm is far from an elite squad, either. This appears to be another rebuilding season in Lincoln.
Nebraska will get UCF in Orlando on Thursday, either West Virginia or Marist on Saturday, and then another team in Sunday. Realistically, Nebraska could be an underdog in all three of this week’s matchups. The Huskers need to find a way to win at least one of the three.
#14 - Indiana Hoosiers (--)
The Hoosiers had games against Seton Hall on the road and South Florida at home this week. Indiana lost the former matchup and won the latter. Through four games, there’s no evidence that Indiana will be anywhere close to nationally competitive this season.
Indiana will now get Arkansas State at home on Wednesday and Eastern Michigan at home on Friday. Given the loss to Indiana State to open the season, Indiana cannot afford a loss in either of these games.